I recently spent a week at summer camp with eight teenage girls. Aside from the fact that I spent the entire week sharing a bathroom that was covered in glitter with said teenage girls, I had a fabulous time!
But I walked away with a realization…too many teenage girls struggle with body image, self-esteem and confidence about who they are and who they can become.
While I had a week of anecdotal evidence, I was curious what the research said. And what I discovered was disheartening.
*A girls’ self-esteem peaks when they are 9 years old….the average 3rd grader turns 9 during the school year!
*42% of first, second, and third grade girls want to lose weight
*More than 90 percent of girls – 15 to 17 years – want to change at least one aspect of their physical appearance, with body weight ranking the highest.
Here at Strong Girl Collective we are all about empowering and supporting each other as women. Our vision is to create a community of diverse women empowered and equipped to live life to the fullest and be the best possible version of themselves. And what I realized after spending a week with teenage girls and researching the issues they face, is that we have a responsibility as women to not only do this for each other, but we have a responsibility to be empowering, supporting, and equipping the next generation of women.
- You are beautiful. A lot of girls, and women, struggle with self-esteem. They need to hear from women that they are beautiful because for many teenage girls, they don’t believe it to be true. They need to hear this often from the women in their lives.
- You will do BIG things. I think too many young girls don’t allow themselves to fully dream about what they can do with their lives. We need to be reminding them that will can be world changers. That they can dream as big as they want and then they can go out and chase those big, crazy, scary dreams.
- You are beautiful, but you are more than your outer beauty. You have unique gifts, passions, and skills that make you, YOU. And YOU are amazing. Teenage girls need to be reminded of the traits and qualities that make them special and unique. This means taking the time to figure out what those traits are because a genuine, specific affirmation can go a long ways.
- You are not defined by boys. It is so easy for teenagers to get caught up in young love. Chasing it down, trying to keep it, recovering from broken hearts, so much of their emotional energy is spent on romantic relationships. We need to be reminding teenage girls that they are not defined by boys!
- You are kind. One of the number one concerns I hear from teenage girls is related to bullying. Whether they are bullied or they see their friends being bullied these girls need to be reminded that they can be kind. And in fact, kindness goes a long way to not only making themselves feel better, but the girls around them will feel better. I have watched entire classes of kids change because one student chose to start being kind. And there was a ripple effect.
How can you be sharing these truths with the teenage girls in your community? What other truths do you think teenage girls need to hear?