Girls hide themselves for the benefit of others

What you could be subconsciously doing could be subconsciously hurting you

March 7, 2016


Chelsea Santos

Girls are becoming one and the same, picking up common traits they see in other girls, until they are just variants of the one “IT” girl.

“Be yourself, so nobody has to,” is an age-old phrase most commonly heard by girls, starting from the age they are old enough to grasp the concept. “It’s okay to be yourself.”

Then enters hypocrisy a little later. “Why can’t you be more like so-and-so?” “How come you look different from those other girls?” “No one dresses like that.” Don’t act that way, people will think you’re weird.” How are girls supposed to be confident and secure in themselves when they are told two different things?

In an attempt to please people, girls will take measures that increasingly become drastic as the years go by. This is a “practice of tweaking how one looks and acts in order to blend in with peers,” according to psychologist JoAnn Deak, Ph.D.

At first, these adjustments are small — wearing a new shirt, using a new perfume, getting a haircut, going from glasses to contacts, being in relationships with someone they don’t have any interest in. Then they escalate into wearing makeup, dieting and even changing the way they speak. All of this is done, just to fit in.

Albeit, some girls do some of these things for themselves. There are girls out there who prefer contacts, prefer wearing makeup, and do enjoy dieting. These girls are being themselves. But for the girls who try so hard to run with the wolves, so to speak, they go through a lot of stress to conform.

However, with the likes of Kylie Jenner reigning as the supreme queens of teen idolatry, the standards have been set at an unattainable high. The ranks of girls demanding plastic surgery is on the rise. According to an article by Express, plastic surgeons are turning away the masses of young girls requesting Botox injections, lip fillers, rhinoplasties and other cosmetic procedures.

Many girls from Clark have been part of the growing number of girls seeking an alteration in their appearance. “I got a nose job because I didn’t like the way my nose looked. I got hyaluronic acid injections, which are like basically fillers, so my nose looks bigger now. But bigger, in a good way,” says one anonymous junior.

There are many girls like her who do go through with their plastic surgery desires. They attempt to emulate one look, like this style from 2015, and are then ridiculed by the same people who mocked their original appearance, saying that every girl looks the same. Oh, the irony.

“There’s a uniformity in teen girls that can be seen across schools and college campuses everywhere, and it extends to young women in the workplace too,” says a recent article published by Teen Vogue. “They know the same songs, dress nearly the same, wear their hair the same way — and slowly their voices become indistinguishable from that of the people sitting next to them. If a girl successfully camouflages, she’ll disappear altogether.”

Nevertheless, there are many girls who take it too far. One anonymous Clark junior says, “I have strong opinions, and usually have a lot to say. But most of the time, I don’t want to speak up because I don’t want to bring attention to myself or look like a try-hard.” Another nameless junior says, “I have a big vocabulary, but sometimes I use ‘dumber’ words so that I don’t seem too pretentious, and so that boys don’t get intimidated by me.”

The way a girl speaks and the way she carries herself ultimately reflects the person she wants people to see. In many cases, this is not her true self. Sometimes she will avoid eye contact or stand with a slouched posture, ultimately appearing weak, timid, and vulnerable. Sometimes she will speak in a certain tone meant to not upset anyone, otherwise known as “apologetic speech.”

“Many women avoid taking ownership of their words; they discredit themselves before their sentence is finished,” says Nicole Williams, author of Girl on Top. Women also tend to go for statements that imply uncertainty, using phrases like, “I think,” “I might be wrong, but,” “Maybe,” instead of more assertive sayings such as, “We should,” “I know,” and the like. “And they sometimes alter the intonation at the end of a sentence, making a question out of an assertion (also known as upspeak). These inflections make them appear less authoritative, and even submissive,” says the Teen Vogue article.

What girls don’t seem to understand is that doing this also makes them look abusable and prone to submission. They don’t realize that by not being confident in themselves, they make others, especially the opposite sex, look more powerful.

That’s why when girls do stand up for themselves, they are called out as being a “bitch,” or something along those lines. They are then mockingly relegated “back to the kitchen,” while a man who stands up for himself is noted as “strong,” and praised for his courage or whatever. Talk about a double standard here.

“When girls are young, some harmless adjustments may seem minor — or a natural part of just being a teenager — and the shifts may not be obvious immediately. But over time women can lose sense of their authentic selves: who they are and what they really want. It may not be until late adolescence or adulthood that a woman realizes she has become a diluted version of herself,” says the article. “The worst part is that a teen girl ultimately hides her true self from herself,” Dr. Deak says.

“Camouflaging in the tween years can lead to settling for less as an adult. When a woman has a solution to a problem at work but waits for someone else to say it first, it means she has lost the courage that is needed to lean in. When she continues to date a guy whom she recognizes is wrong for her, it may be a side effect of not knowing herself. When she is certain she deserves more pay than she is offered but accepts the job anyway, she may no longer be confident of her worth. What Oprah Winfrey once called “the disease to please” seems to have infected generations of women.”

The loss of identity isn’t the only side effect of camouflaging. Other repercussions can be depression, self-harm, and other behaviors that can be detrimental to oneself. Common demons that stem from camouflaging are eating disorders — CJ McAllister, a friend of mine, has dealt with anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa in her struggle to be like the girls plastered upon the covers of fashion magazines.

“I regret not being proud of who I was. I could never be myself around most people. I hated who I pretended to be. She was my worst enemy. But she stuck with me for so long, at one point I forgot who I really am inside. So I had to give her the boot,” she says. “It’s important to know that you’re important, and whoever can’t love you for who you are is someone you shouldn’t spend your time trying to please.”

Girls have to learn to put their own happiness first. They should own up to themselves and be proud of who they are. Everyone is special — which is cliche, but incredibly true. There are seven billion people in the world, sure, but no one has the same exact memories, experiences, and thoughts as you. There is only one of you. And that’s you.


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  • K

    Kalette MargaretMay 4, 2018 at 2:32 am


  • K

    Kalette MargaretMay 3, 2018 at 2:13 am

    In Africa, more so in my country Uganda, a girl is brought up grows up knowing that she is there to please others and sacrifice her happiness. I will share what I have learned from this article during my visits in schools and other women gatherings.