I provide support and guidance to women through the lifespan to fully and authentically come into themselves. I understand how complex it is for women to be strong, caring (of others and oneself) and be assertive in our society.
Peggie Orenstein states in her book, School Girls (1994) that:
“In spite of the changes in women’s roles in society, in spite of the changes in their own mothers’ lives, many of today’s girls fall into traditional patterns of low self-image, self-doubt, and self-censorship of their creative and intellectual potential. Although all children experience confusion and a faltering sense of self at adolescence, girls’ self-regard drops further than boys’ and never catches up. They emerge from their teenage years with reduced expectations and have less confidence in themselves and their abilities than do boys. Teenage girls are more vulnerable to feelings of depression and hopelessness and are four times more likely to attempt suicide.
Without a strong sense of self, girls will enter adulthood at a deficit: they will be less able to fulfill their potential, less willing to take challenges, less willing to defy tradition in their career choices, which means sacrificing economic equity. Their successes will not satisfy and their failures will be more catastrophic, confirming their self-doubt. They will be less prepared to weather the storms of adult life, more likely to become depressed, hopeless and self destructive. In order to raise and nurture healthier girls, we must look carefully at what we tell them, often unconsciously, often subtly, about their worth relative to boys’. We must look a what girls value about themselves-the “areas of importance” by which they measure their self-esteem-as well as the potential sources of strength and competence that, too often, they learn to devalue.”
For young women the journey to womanhood can be difficult and confusing due to the overwhelming transmission of information from social and cultural media that is reinforced and perpetuated within female friendships. This makes it very difficult for young women to develop self awareness and a trust in their own needs, feelings and intuition. When women turn to external means, such as other people's impressions, cultural pressures, online interaction, achievements in academics, sports, arts and so forth for affirmation, this leads to a sense of disconnection from oneself and so not respecting or accepting oneself. I believe the ideal is to live life from the inside out. A life that is determined by one's values and what is meaningful in how one contributes to the world.
Adult woman have many more challenges today with balancing family, home life, work, relationships, community responsibilities and self nurturance. I understand that challenge well with being a mother of three children, having a career and other community involvements, while also being true to my ongoing self development. Woman, like all people, are struggling with keeping up with our fast paced, stressful lifestyles that are still based on material acquisitions and the ongoing stress for financial stability. This way of living can lead to disconnection and result in having to use ineffective coping strategies.
Women desire reciprocal, emotionally connective relationships to grow emotionally on an individual and relational basis. Woman often express their disconnection from self and others through a split between internal needs and authentic expression of self over succuming to societal/cultural pressures. This dilemma is articulated through disordered relationships with food, body image dissatisfaction and weight obsessions, judgment of self and others, anxiety, depression, perfectionism, envy and competition with other women.
I believe more than ever in our history as woman, we have an important role in contributing to creating a society that is more compassionate, connective and loving. Due to women being emotionally sophisticated and empathetic; having equal opportunities and able to participate in all aspects of life; these attributes are needed to repair our world. Taking the time to truly get to know and accept oneself is essential to achieve and continue to grow and to share with others.
I am on faculty at the Montessori Academy of London, www.montessori.on.ca, as social/emotional educator for grade 4, 5, 6 boys and girls. The goal of the program is to develop more empathetic, fair and respectful social relationships and better skills in negotiating the social terrain while developing self confidence.