Orlando counselor offers 4 self esteem tips the 2015 Superbowl Commercial “Like a Girl” commercial teaches!  You may have caught the reality-based commercial in which girls of various ages were asked to “Run like a girl.” The commercial beautifully demonstrated how sexism, like racism, is socially constructed by the use of language in our society. Just like no child is born racist, no child is born sexist. These are lear

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 2.16.59 PMned behaviors and thought patterns that children glean through their experiences from their environment, from family to the dominant culture.

When young, school-aged girls, approximately seven-years-old, were asked to “run like a girl,” they ran skillfully, quickly, and exuded confidence; however, when older, teenaged girls were asked to “run like a girl,” they reflected the widely disseminated image of an uncoordinated, inept runner, complete with flailing arms and legs. They reflected the fact that by their teenage years, girls had successfully internalized the message from the dominant culture that girls are less capable and less respected, for “running like a girl” is widely used as an insult among males, never as an indicator of strength, speed or ability.

These types of messages hurt the development of healthy self-esteem among girls. Girls with low self-esteem view themselves as inadequate, unlovable, and/or incompetent, resulting in faulty assumptions and self-defeating behavior.

Here are some statistics of self-esteem among girls:

  • 75% of girls with low self-esteem reported engaging in hurtful activities such as smoking, drinking, disordered eating, cutting or bullying, compared to 25% of girls with high self-esteem.
  • 70% of girls between the ages of 15 and 17 reported avoiding normal daily activities, like school, when feeling badly about their appearances.
  • 44% of girls in high school reported they were unhappy with their weight, in comparison to only 15% of boys.

So what can we do?

First, we can raise awareness by challenging and rejecting the commonly used phrases that reinforce the message that girls are less capable and inherently substandard. The Super Bowl commercial is a step in the right direction. But now, we must take it a step-further and remove such phrases from our discourse. We need to teach our sons, and remind our fathers, that these types of phrases are hurtful, inaccurate, and unacceptable.

Second, we need to create a culture in our homes that communicates respect and an expectation of ability from our girls, and one that highlights and celebrates the accomplishments of women in our society..

We need to give them opportunities to experience their selves as successful, capable and strong. We need to notice and reflect the abilities we see in our girls, so they may see it more readily in themselves.

And third, we need to take the time to really talk to and connect with our girls. We need to let them know Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 2.21.32 PMthey are loved and valued. As parents, we certainly know we love our children, but it is another thing entirely for our children to feel loved and valued. We need to take the time to really listen to our girls, so we can hear the messages they tell themselves and work with them to pluck out the unhealthy ones that may have snuck in when we weren’t looking. We need to find out what makes them feel loved and when do they feel most valued, and work to do more of those things.

And fourth, if we notice our girls are struggling with low self-esteem, we need to get them help. Girls with low self-esteem are more likely to become depressed, to engage in risky behaviors, engage in activities with boys they later regret, and experiment with drugs and alcohol. Girls need a suit of armor to walk through the world, as imperviously as possible, amidst the disparaging discourse, while we work to change it. The suit of armor is comprised of self-knowledge, parental love and attention, and healthy and discerning thought patterns.

If you think you, or a girl you love, may be experiencing low self-esteem, a counselor may be able to help.

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Author & Edited by Dr. Leslie Hamilton, Ph.D., LMFT