I have been following Girls Who Code founder Reshma Saujani. What interests me most is her discussions surrounding how girls are raised to be beautiful, smart and successful. Any deviation from this goal cause girls anxiety. The effect of this conditioning is we don’t try, we erase our efforts for fear of being judged. Boys fall, scrape their knees, fail tests, get back up and are told to keep at it. Girls feel the need, weighted by the immense burden, to be perfect from the start.
I debate how to fight this urge with my daughter. Unconsciously and sometimes deliberately I manipulate my image depending on the context. That is what I was taught to do; to be obsessively aware of who is watching, why I am present and how best to represent myself to blend into the moment. I can name countless times my own anxiety at being “over” or “under” dressed for an occasion. I have never witnessed any men in my life sharing the same level of anxiety over their choice of attire.
My daughter loves her colourful tights, her soft sweatshirts, her mismatched socks, her onesie and worn out runners. I have consciously stopped asking her to coordinate, pick coordinated shoes, flattering shapes. I watch her run and tumble in her fluffy oversized sweatshirt and psychedelic tights and it makes me smile.
I know I am socialized to rely on feedback from others, to pay attention to what everyone else thinks. I hope I give my daughter some reprieve from that world, to trust herself and that that it is the most important thing to being her very best.