How We Raise Girls To Be Confident Women

by Joanna McClanahan
Originally Published: 
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I usually look at my brave, confident 6-year-old girl and am filled with pride. But sometimes I can’t help but feel fear. I wonder who will try to break her, who will tear her down, who will fill her mind with self-doubt.

As a woman, I know it’s only a matter of time before society tries to break her confidence. At some point, she’ll become insecure about her tiny imperfections. She’ll spend too much time obsessing about the size of her breasts. She’ll worry about her weight, no matter how skinny she is.

She’ll be taught, directly or indirectly, that her voice matters less than the voices of men around her. She’ll watch as the boys around her are more likely to be called on. She’ll be told to let other people have a chance. They’ll tell her boys only tease her because they like her. She’ll be told she laughs too loudly.

She’ll eventually learn that outspoken girls are considered “bossy,” while outspoken boys are considered “assertive.” She’ll eventually try to make herself as small as possible: her body, her voice, her entire sense of self.

Society will try to fool her into believing that her worth is based on her beauty (specifically her attractiveness to men). It will hold up a number of unachievable standards that she’ll never be able to fulfill. She’ll notice that women are held to an entirely different standard than men, who are rewarded based on merit, not by the way they look.

As she grows up, she’ll find that beauty is expensive: makeup, skincare, hair products, clothes, shoes. Women are expected to shoulder a number of expenses that men never have to.

Later in life, she’ll find that women are under a different set of expectations, and must learn to balance raising a family with pleasing everyone at work. One day she’ll learn the hard way the way how beautiful women are treated in the workforce, and how much less they’re paid to do more.

Society will do everything it can to destroy the love she has for herself, and she’ll have to rebuild it on her own.

My hope for my daughter is that she sees through the charade. I hope that she retains her confidence that my husband and I have helped her build in her most formative years. I hope she understands that society forces the concept of beauty on women as a distraction. Society does this to all women, because they know that confident women are a force to be reckoned with.

Well, it’s 2018 and I’m hopeful that women are taking back their confidence. We are beginning to have dialogues about sexual assault epidemics that have stayed hidden for far too long. We are starting to demand equal pay. We’re using social media to share stories, and find our own tribes of supportive, badass women.

Every confident woman will tell you that she wasn’t born that way. We’ve learned the hard way through successes and failures, and triumphs and struggles. We have walked through the flames of self-doubt and risen, like fucking phoenixes, on the other side.

A confident woman is not afraid to speak up or speak out. She has no desire to tear other women down out of insecurity. She fiercely defends her friends and family. A confident woman has found her voice and is not afraid to use it when it matters most.

Once a young woman builds that confidence for herself, it can’t be taken away. And there’s nothing more beautiful than that.

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