When I was a little girl, I wanted to grow up to be a princess. I was convinced that I was of royal descent and my parents had just not told me yet.
Honestly, that is what I thought.
After all, the movies and TV shows that I watched glamorized the girl who had the perfect looks and sweet demeanor. These qualities led the princess to being saved by a handsome knight in shining armor. Who would complain about that?!
And as us girls grow up, we are bombarded by celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and those Real Housewives of Whatever County. It seems that looks and money get you far, Honey! And, if you are anything like those women are portrayed, you do not seek to empower other women, but you wish to be the lone survivor on top.
The fact of the matter is that too many women believe that in order to be on top, they must knock others down. While a healthy sense of competition is a great motivator, a paradigm shift is necessary in many of our mindsets. A great number of women must realize that in order to be successful, we must rely on and support other men and women alike along the way.
We do not need to feel inadequate every time we turn on the TV. That is no way to live. As well, we should not merely judge other successful women based on what they are wearing (Sorry Fashion Police). I challenge all of you to be of greater substance than that.
Stop caring about how your looks stack up next to Kim Kardashian’s and start doing things that MATTER. Looking back, would you rather your life be about your ultimately declining level of beauty or do you wish to stand for something far greater than yourself? I choose the latter.
In standing for something greater, we must focus on issues of real significance and deter those that seek to cut others down. After all, we have so many opportunities that others do not! We MUST take advantage of them and be thankful, instead of focusing on inconsequential matters.
If you are a young woman with a high school degree, you are already so much further ahead than millions of other girls in developing countries. Yet, another reason you should stop caring about what the media tells you to be and start making differences that can empower other women, not only in your circle, but around the globe.
For instance, according to Cynthia B. Lloyd and Juliet Young of the Population Council, Secondary school completion rates for adolescent girls is below five percent in 19 sub-Saharan African countries (Lloyd & Young "New Lessons"). This means while you may be concerned about what job fits your personality type, millions of other girls across the world will never even dream of that consideration, because their lives have already been predetermined for them. They likely will not even be able to decide who they will marry, forget the education.
Furthermore, one in seven girls in developing countries will be married before the age of 15 (‘Supporting Married Girls: Calling Attention to a Neglected Group’). This not only deters the girls from receiving an education, but the risk of death during pregnancy between the ages of 10 to 14 is five times greater than between 20 to 24 (GFD_Brief-3_MarriedGirls). There is so much more going on outside of the bubble that many of us live in...
SO WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Fortunately, there are so many ways to give back and stay focused on important issues. Specifically, the Girl Effect was created by the Nike Foundation to enable young girls in developing countries to have better opportunities (www.girleffect.org). Watch the eye-opening video here:
If any of this strikes a chord with you, I challenge you to shift your mindset away from the latest celebrity gossip and who said what about who. While it is totally okay to enjoy some reality TV here and there, too much of these distractions can consume you and take you away from what is truly real in life. Do not let that be how you define yourself. Those things will not matter in a day, yet alone a year. You were given so many opportunities in this world that others were not, so choose to be a woman of high character that empowers other females around her instead of cutting them down.
So how can you begin to shift your mindset?
1. Obtain awesome female role models
Who your role models are says a lot about you. Whether your definition of success is becoming the next CEO of Google or becoming a stay at home mom, look to other women of high character. Hopefully, these women can keep you on track to becoming a true leader.
2. Do something that makes you feel good about yourself and helps others
I have never felt so grounded as when I am helping other people out. All too many of us are extremely consumed with our own lives, but we have to remind ourselves otherwise. What a waste of a life it is if we continue to only live in our own little worlds. It pays to see the greater picture and see something from someone else’s point of view.
3. Become a role model for other girls
With so many negative distractions from the media, it is important to serve as a role model for other young girls. If I ever have a daughter, I hope to instill in her that her self-worth should come from what she does for others and not simply how she looks. While I absolutely love getting all dolled up, that is not how I define myself. Otherwise, I would never really feel good enough anyway. There is always someone better looking or smarter. But, a true role model aims to be in their own race against themselves, not others.
So, the next time you are bombarded by inconsequential matters, realize what is actually important to you and not the media. Do not be what the world tells you to be. Decide that for yourself and take action NOW.
The time will pass no matter what, so what are you going to do with it?
Adolescent girls are the most powerful force for change on the planet. Find inspiration and tools to unleash the girl effect at girleffect.org. (n.d.). Retrieved November 15, 2014, from http://www.girleffect.org/
‘Supporting Married Girls: Calling Attention to a Neglected Group’, Population Council 2007,
GFD_Brief-3_MarriedGirls. ‘Fact Sheets: Young People’, UNFPA. Retrieved 28 March 2011 from http://www. unfpa.org/public/factsheets
Lloyd, Cynthia and Juliet Young. ‘New Lessons: The Power of Educating Adolescent Girls’. Population Council 2009 pp. 23. Retrieved 25 March 2011 from http://www.popcouncil.org/pdfs/2009PGY_NewLessons.pdf