This week’s show discusses girls, experiences unique to girls, and the effect of these experiences on women. Our guest is Dr. Lisa Hinkelman, a professor at The Ohio State University and founder of the group, Ruling Our Experience (ROX), an evidence based empowerment program for girls.

Ruling Our Experience

While volunteering for a crisis hotline while working on her PhD at The Ohio State University, Dr. Hinkelman encountered many calls from women who hadn’t experienced trauma recently but were waking up with nightmares with roots in childhood trauma. From those early experiences and her research work, Dr. Hinkelman founded ROX, to use evidence to guide practice in empowering girls, and hopefully avoiding these nightmares later in life.

Social Media and Sense of Self

Social media and self conceptualization are relatively new ideas. How social media factors into our perceptions of self, specifically girls, is largely a new phenomenon. Social media is a new measure and a platform that allow people to edit image, and creates a sort­of “pressure for perfection”. While many of us are affected by how many likes we get or how we perceive others through social media, girls are often very susceptible to being swayed by the images and judgement social media creates.

Pressure is Relative

While many of us look at the lives of children or specifically girls as enviable as we juggle mortgages and bills, we forget that there is a lot of judgement and pressure in the lives of girls. Many girls are looking for approval and often place the majority of their own value based on their physical appearance and nothing more. When perceived value is based only on our looks, we go to great lengths to look a certain way in hopes of receiving approval (likes, attention). As adults, we reinforce these cultural norms to tell young girls they are pretty or cute for years­­and then it stops abruptly in adolescence when many go through phases of growth/awkwardness. We can instill confidence and empower girls with compliments about who they are and create value not just from the physical.

Key Issues

Friendships, relationships with other girls and girl drama are the largest issues facing girls in late elementary/middle school year. Pressure is also a growing issues of concern coming from parents, peers, and adults in their lives. Teaching young girls how to navigate relationships and communicate their feelings and actions effectively is of critical importance. Puberty and adolescence can bring a host of changes or a shift where girls lose their confidence and become consumed in social pressures, self perception, and societal norms. You can’t be good at being pretty, but we can help girls develop skills to cope with these pressures and use value systems that aren’t based in non­skills like physical looks or popularity.

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