Boots & Sabers

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0934, 28 Feb 18

The Lonely Life of Girls

We have created a real and digital proxy universe in which it is nearly impossible to meet everyone’s expectations.

And social media — where, according to Pew Research, girls tend to dominate, using visual platforms like Instagram and Snapchat in far greater numbers than boys — isn’t helping the matter. The pressure to get at least one like per minute on Instagram and keep up scores of daily Snapchat “streaks” is unending.
“I can’t go to sleep at night until I answer all my notifications,” one high school student told me last week. Adolescent girls get the least sleep of any group of youth.
But social media and the internet are only part of the issue. 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” — too 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.
The sheer impossibility of measuring up has left a generation of girls with the enduring belief that, no matter how many achievements they rack up, they are not enough as they are. The path their mothers and grandmothers cleared so their girls could enjoy every opportunity is marked by self criticism, overthinking and fear of failure.
I would suggest that a return to faith and human relationships is needed. Badly.

0934, 28 February 2018


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