by Goumah Conde, RMFT
These are very challenging times for girls. They are told in many ways, that they are not good enough, pretty enough, or smart enough. Whether it’s from social media, school mates, the community, or sometimes family, girls are feeling the pressure to ‘measure up,’ and this leaves them overwhelmed, feeling anxious, depressed, confused, angry and even turning to drug use at times.
As a mother of three daughters, two of them teenagers (Middle and High School), and a clinician who has worked passionately to build self-esteem and self-confidence in girls, I know firsthand the immense pressure they are under to act a certain way or make choices simply to “fit in.” Their peers and even society forget that they were created individuals, with their own minds and unique personalities. Because girls want to be accepted by others, we have found that they mostly pretend to be what they are not; they develop perfectionism and strive for flawlessness. They set high performance standards and become self-critical, hoping that they would be validated. They feel that if no one knows the “real” them, they would be loved and accepted by others.
In a recent survey conducted by Yahoo and Seventeen Magazine, 74% of girls said they felt the need to be perfect. Girls Rule Foundation reports that 90% of girls suffer from eating disorders and 30% have thought about suicide. Among 15-29 years olds, suicide is the leading cause of death in America. American Counseling Association member Laura Hensley Choate says girls are taught that their value is connected solely to what she calls the “three A’s” — appearance, attention and accomplishments.
With over 10 years of experience, I’ve worked with many girls who struggle with anxiety, depression, suicide, self-injurious behaviors such as cutting, etc. Several of them describe feelings of worthlessness. At Wellspring, we meet many parents who desperately want to help their children struggling with many of the above mentioned issues. They want to help their daughters overcome the need to give in to peer pressure and learn how to cope with the negative emotions that accompany the need to please. Negative emotions such as sadness, anger, loneliness, fear, worry, hate, jealousy, envy, etc.
We at Wellspring have heard the concerns of our parents and girls and have been thinking about how we can help girls accept themselves as they are and live a wholehearted life. Drawing from Brene Brown’s, The Gifts of Imperfection, research, and of course the Bible, we concluded that the way to help girls overcome the unrealistic need to be perfect, and learn to accept themselves as they are, is to teach them how to live authentically; to be real!
So, after much prayer and consideration, UNMASKED is here! The purpose of UNMASKED is to help girls understand how to: feel worthy because of Christ, accept themselves as they are, be loving towards themselves, and live wholeheartedly! For we know that Jeremiah 1:5 says, before you were born, I set you apart. We know that girls are born with a purpose, and we want to help them begin to realize that, by first accepting and believing in themselves.