The Curse of the Good Girl

The title comes from Rachel Simmons excellent book (same as title).  I write the following particularly to point out the cultural programming most women carry into their adult lives…

p.3 “..if their college applications are stamped with twenty-first century girl power, girls’ psychological resumes lag generations behind.  The Curse of the Good Girl erodes girls’ ability to know, say, and manage a complete range of feelings.  It urges girls to be perfect, giving them a troubled relationship to integrity and failure.  It expects girls to be selfless, limiting the expression of their needs.  It demands modesty, depriving girls of permission to commit to their strengths and goals.  It diminishes assertive body language, quieting voices and weakening handshakes.  It reaches across all areas of girls’ lives: in their interactions with boys and other girls, at school, at home, and in extracurricular life.  The Curse of the Good Girl cuts to the core of authentic selfhood, demanding that girls curb the strongest feelings and desires that form the patchwork of a person.”

The author articulates the “good girl” message clearly that I received growing up and I appreciate her ability to link what I thought was individual programming into a larger cultural context:

“..what emerges as a social phenomenon in relationships begins to limit individual strength and potential….their fear of disappointing or angering others, their intense need to please, had spilled over into their skills and potential as individuals.  When the Good Girl mentality migrates into girls’ public venues…girls learn many of the behaviors that will stunt their personal and professional success as adults.” (p.8)

Here the author explains what happens when Good Girls become adults:

“Good Girls may enjoy success in high school, but as they enter college and move into the workplace, the rules of the game change.  It is no longer enough to be smart and hardworking.  The skills required to self-promote, negotiate, and absorb feedback are among the new criteria for success.  Young women are ill prepared.  Professional self-help books for women offer bleak inventories of these missing skills; the title of one of the bestsellers–Lois Frankel’s Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office: 101 Unconscious Mistakes Women Make That Sabotage Their Careers–is no coincidence.” (p.9)

When I bring up “the Curse of the Good Girl,” I want women to understand that some of their deepest fears are potentially culturally programmed…and I crave for women to WOMAN UP.

(Oh–see the “Woman Up” poem that I wrote and performed at Kindred Spirits Talent-Optional Show at Rowe Conference Center in August of 2011.)

I know as I become more empowered in my life, more willing to take on a leadership role, and more willing to take negative feedback, I see the mask of my Good Girl persona fading.  I watch my tendency to smile or perhaps apologize or laugh after I say something particularly painful or meaningful in my life and I am doing my best to STOP.  I am doing my best to give myself permission to express exactly what I felt in the past without some social filter to “nice it up.”  I hope that ONE WOMAN just by reading this page and my WOMAN UP poem can find some inspiration to become more empowered in her life and SPEAK A LITTLE LOUDER.  The world NEEDS US.

Questions? Contact me at [email protected]

Remember, I want to help you live the healthiest life possible! –GreenLightHeidi

***photo credit is to stevendepolo

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