Have you told yourself lately that you love you, just the way you are? Have you congratulated yourself lately for being a smart, passionate individual?
It’s unfortunate that so many women neglect to appreciate their own inner beauty and forget to recognize their own worth. It’s heartbreaking to acknowledge that years of negative self-talk have misled many women into suppressing their own dreams and goals.
The pressure to be perfect, to “fit in,” begins to weigh down on many tween and teen girls during their most vulnerable adolescent years. Many young girls are willing to hide anything about themselves that makes them unique, to camouflage their true selves, if it means that they will be able to blend into the “in crowd.”
“Camouflaging” is a term coined by JoAnn Deak, Ph.D., a psychologist and the author of “How Girls Thrive and Girls Will Be Girls: Raising Confident and Courageous Daughters.” It refers to the phase that many girls enter between the ages of 8 and 12 during which they try so hard to blend in with their peers for acceptance, that they lose the very essence of themselves in the process. In the words of Deak, “It’s the time when a girl lives her life as someone she thinks will be accepted by everyone else.”
Society should be promoting individuality and authenticity, instead of promoting more unrealistic and unattainable standards for young girls to strive to live up to. The insecurities, self-consciousness and negative self-image that often begin in the middle school years, can carry on throughout the high school years and leave a huge impression on a woman long after her teenage years have come and gone.
So how can we as a sisterhood of women help others and ourselves overcome camouflaging? We can begin by celebrating our own lives, our own bodies and our own successes. It is always important to be humble and respectful but that doesn’t mean that women should be afraid to express all the things that they love about themselves. Post that body-positive selfie and pat yourself on the back for a job well done because you deserve it. You deserve to be happy, to love your life and to share that appreciation with others.
We can celebrate the great accomplishments of other women, both past and present. There are countless women who have overcome great obstacles, who have changed the course of history and who have dared to step away from the crowd and speak up for what they believe in. It’s so important to recognize that if she can do it, then so can you.
And finally, as we all are out there doing and accomplishing great things, we can take the time to reach out to other women, to be their mentor and to pull them upwards with us. We can help empower other women and girls to follow their dreams, to stay true to who they are and to never be afraid of speaking out.
When women decide that they are sick and tired of being asked to blend into the crowd, when women decide to ban together and make their voices heard, anything is possible.