I met Roseanna recently when I gave a talk at a university. She remembered that I asked women to share their girly thoughts, an obnoxious term I coined to describe that toxic, inner self-talk that plagues and disempowers women.
Roseanna send me a poem she wrote about her sister, a sixteen-year-old who was taught to underappreciate her accomplishments and to focus instead on fashion. Sound painfully familiar? After you read this poem, I hope you’ll share your comments with me, and I will forward them to her.
by Roseanna Boswell
(a college student studying Creative Writing and Women and Gender Studies)
My sister has no boots.
that’s what she tells me,
over orange juice and coffee cups.
she would be shunning daylight,
making faces at her cereal bowl,
the effervescence of her smile
tells me: we’re going to talk
and we’re going to talk about shoes.
She is 16
and I worry:
In a world where it seems as though
she has a better chance
of being sexually assaulted
than becoming a computer science major,
how can I tell her not to be afraid?
She is 16
and she tells me that she has a 90 average,
that she needs new boots,
that sometimes she feels afraid to be alone with her teachers,
that she wants to borrow my sweater.
I tell her to always fight the patriarchy,
to be smart and safe,
I tell her “don’t believe guys
who say condoms don’t fit,”
I tell her “don’t let society dictate your beauty,
don’t let anyone dictate your body.”
She is 16,
she sighs, and rolls eyes.
She already knows how to navigate a world
that is unsympathetic to her body,
She tells me she needs new boots.
What Happens When We Give Something a Name?
We realize we can wrap our minds and our words around a thing when we label it. We learn that what is rattling around inside of us is not just about us but has a more universal meaning.
Rosanna is just enough older than her sister to understand the power of our girly thoughts to distract us from what is really important. But we don’t have to continue to do this. We can identify those toxic girly thoughts and replace them with helpful and empowering thoughts about the ways in which we are special.
Do You Want to Share Something About Girly Thoughts?
If so, please contact me through my website. Look soon for artwork from Michelle Sohn depicting girly thoughts.
Interested in speaking about girly thoughts?
Join Me—Next Stops:
- Worchester, MA: June 11, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. “Girly Thoughts and Addiction.”
- Lake Placid, NY: July 11, 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Book signing at Bookstore Plus.
Want to talk about girly thoughts? Invite me to:
- Your book club
- Your management meeting
Remember, you’ll find more ideas for getting rid of your negative self-talk in my latest book, The Girly Thoughts 10-Day Detox Plan: The Resilient Woman’s Guide to Saying NO to Negative Self-Talk and YES to Personal Power
Patricia A. O'Gorman, Ph.D., is a psychologist in private practice. She is noted for her work on women, trauma, and substance abuse and for her warm, inspiring, and amusing presentations that make complex issues accessible and even fun. She has served as a consultant to organizations across the country in preventative and clinical strategic planning. Dr. O'Gorman is a cofounder of the National Association for Children of Alcoholics, and she has held positions ranging from director of a rape crisis center to clinical director of a child welfare agency, and director of the division of prevention for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). She is a veteran of numerous television appearances, including Good Morning America, Today, and AM Sunday and is the author of eight books including: The Girly Thoughts 10 Day Detox Plan (2014), The Resilient Woman: Mastering the 7 Steps to Personal Power (2013), and Healing Trauma Through Self-Parenting (2012) 12 Steps to Self-Parenting.