The Hub sent me this article the other day about why teenage girls are struggling with depression. The paragraphs that really struck a chord with me:
“I have been asking adolescent girls to describe what it means to them to be successful. They tell me they are under pressure to be superhuman: ambitious, smart and hardworking, athletic, pretty and sexy, socially active, nice and popular — both online and off.
Psychologists call this ‘role overload’ — to many roles for a single person to play — and ‘role conflict’ — when the roles you play are at odds with one another. The effort required to get a bikini body will cut away at the hours you need to spend in the lab to get into medical school.”
To which I say to these teenage girls: “Welcome to my life!!” (Lol. Just kidding…Sorta.)
But seriously, do we need special psychology terms for this? I call it (as I oft note on here): “There-Are-Not-Enough-Hours-In-The-Day-To-Do-Everything.” End of story.
I realize that I have the advantage of age to be able to laugh at the notion of having a bikini body and not worry about it too much. Of course, I also have the benefit of being happily married to a man who still finds me attractive regardless of how two babies disfigured my body. (Some women snap back. Some women don’t. I am in the “don’t” category.) But I can only imagine what this pressure feels like for young girls who – whether they should or not – cannot help but care about their appearance. And even if I can intellectually know that what my body looks like now does not matter, that does not mean I like it. For years, I struggled with ‘role conflict,’ because the hours it took to become and be a lawyer definitely ruined the dancer’s body I once — many, many, many moons ago – had. And that was before social media!
I am genuinely SCARED TO DEATH of raising daughters in the age of social media. I have no idea how I am going to navigate that terrain. But I know some of what I can do is to project a healthy attitude about self-image and a healthy attitude about how much a well-adjusted human being can accomplish in a single day. I stress the importance of plenty of sleep (I am a monster without it, and so are they); and the importance of eating healthy to keep our bodies healthy. But I am not afraid of eating cookies and ice cream with them, because: (1) I don’t want them to think or feel that they cannot eat or have those things as a woman; and (2) because there are very few ways I get my kicks these days and that’s one of them. (Ha!)
Despite what I discuss (complain about) on this blog, I do try to keep a positive attitude and not try to be “Superwoman” — honestly, for the sake of my own daughters. When I feel myself becoming unglued, I know it means I need to scale it back and “take a chill pill.” I regularly try to do things for myself, because I want to model that for my girls. I want them to know that, someday, they can take time out of their busy schedules (that usually revolves around their children – if they have children; I will not insist that they do) and get their hair done or have lunch with a friend.
So, that’s my strategy: Modeling self-care — as best I can. Beyond that: Say your prayers for us. Thanks!