The Myth of the Perfect Girl
In Episode 99, I talk with Ana Homayoun, a nationally recognized counselor and consultant specializing in positive strategies for junior high and high school students. Ana was previously on the podcast (Ep. 45) talking about her book Social Media Wellness: Helping Tweens and Teens Thrive in an Unbalanced Digital World (Corwin Teaching Essentials).
I feel equally as enthusiastic about her book, The Myth of the Perfect Girl: Helping Our Daughters Find Authentic Success and Happiness in School and Life, and that’s the book we talk about in this episode.
We cover a few of the topics from the book, including why girls tend to think they have to be perfect, why girls are especially sensitive to and influenced by the expectations of others, and ways we can encourage our daughters to seek their own path and their own interests in life.
- Ana and her team at Green Ivy Educational Consulting want kids to develop into thoughtful, resilient, and interesting young people. And to take those skills to college and beyond.
- It’s important for kids to find a sense of joy and fulfillment, and also a sense of purpose and meaning in their daily work, both inside and outside of the classroom.
- There’s a lot around the culture of perfectionism that doesn’t go away when we get older.
- We all need to reflect and get to know what’s important to us, and what our own values are, to be the most powerful that we can be within our own minds.
- Girls often struggle to figure out what brings them a personal sense of purpose, joy, and fulfillment, in their quest to achieve external standards of perfection.
- Kids need to have some time off.
- Children need to understand whether what they are doing is energizing or draining.
- Summer camp offers kids a change in schedule, and an opportunity to learn things in a different environment.
- Parents should focus on having compassion, empathy, and understanding around social media use, and also around their child being a middle-schooler or a high-schooler in general.
- Parents need to understand and accept unconditionally who their kids are.
- Spiritual wellness is important, as well as social, emotional, and physical wellness.
Ana: “So much around the culture of perfectionism doesn’t go away when we get older.”
Ana: “We see the research that says anxiety and depression, particularly among teen girls, are increasing. I think part of it is if we back up and figure out why are we not having the conversation around purpose and meaning earlier? So that kids can explore and build their own blueprint, rather than what I call ‘borrow someone else’s’. In the book, I call it ‘filling the box’ rather than ‘building your own’. What it means really, is that you’re constantly looking at what everyone else is doing, rather than figuring out ‘what’s important to me. What are my values? How are my daily habits reflecting those values or moving me closer, or away from those values?’ ”
Ana: “Parents need to help their kids identify what energizes them and what drains them. And to look at their behaviors accordingly. A mistake we make around social media and technology is that we always tell kids what they should be doing. But we don’t even look at our own modeling around it.”
Ana: “Instead of coming from a place of anger and frustration, parents should really focus on having compassion, empathy, and understanding, not just around social media use, but really around being a middle-schooler or a high-schooler in general. Because the combination of going through puberty, and having excessive academic and extra-curricular and athletic expectations, is a never-ending ‘nothing is ever good enough.’ ”
Ana: “The number one thing that middle-school and high-school girls can benefit from is parents who assess their own house, socially. Even if you feel so secure as an adult, there is that twinge of challenge when you watch your child struggle socially.”
Ana: “Understand who your child is and accept them for who they are. Really understanding and accepting your daughter as who she is, and allowing her to develop into her sense of self; unconditional acceptance is also really important.”
Ana: “A lot of times kids put stress on themselves, and pressure on themselves, because they see what everybody else is doing.”
Ana: “Make sure that your child has multiple outlets, or what I call ‘clusters of connection’.”
Ana: “A lot of people don’t fully realize all the media that girls are consuming when they look at reality television and the relationships and how they’re portrayed on reality television. So helping them evaluate, ‘what is it that I’m consuming?’ ‘What is it that’s coming into my life?’ And, ‘what are the things that you need to do to feel emotionally based and secure so that you can promote physical wellness around nutrition, exercise, and place?’ ”
Ana: “Spiritual wellness is important, as well as social, emotional, and physical wellness.”
When Ana Homayoun was a senior in college, she had a professor ask her what qualities she wanted in a career. “I want to write, I want to travel, and I want to help people,” she said without missing the beat.
Two decades later, she does all of the above. Ana Homayoun is an author, educator, and coach who helps teens and young adults grow into resilient, thoughtful, and engaged young people. She is the founder of the Silicon Valley-based Green Ivy Educational Consulting and travels around the world speaking at schools and conferences. Her work has been featured in the NYTimes, Chicago Tribune, SF Chronicle, ABC News, and USA Today, among others, and she is a frequent guest on NPR. Her first book, That Crumpled Paper Was Due Last Week quickly became a classic for those who deal with disorganization and distractions. Her second book, The Myth of the Perfect Girl highlights the modern-day dilemmas of today’s teen girls and young adult women, and was heralded by one college student as being the book “that discusses what everyone is dealing with but no one is talking about.” Her latest book, Social Media Wellness, caused her to spend far more hours than she would like to admit using Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter.
For nearly two decades, Ana Homayoun’s work has focused on helping teenagers and young adults develop their own blueprints for success. Her prescriptive solutions promote better executive functioning skills, effectively address the culture of teen perfectionism, and provide practical real-life advice on how to promote social media wellness in an always-on digital world. Her authentic wisdom and sensible perspective is real, relevant, and adored by parents, educators, and teens around the world.
Ana works with middle school and high school students on organization, time management, and finding purpose. She and her team help students figure out their own goals and the daily habits they need to practice in order to achieve those goals. She helps make the college admissions process an empowering rather than a stressful experience.
I’m looking forward to my son (starting his senior year in August) working with Ana and her team at Green Ivy on his college application process. They help students organize the process so that they do 2-4 hours of work on applications per week (2-3 tasks), maximize sleep, wellness, and free time, and are done with applications by early December. Sounds great to me!
Resources & Related Posts
Free Download about The Myth of the Perfect Girl (on Ana’s Book Page)
The Anatomy of Trust by Brene Brown (Audrey mentioned in this episode.)
Book Trailer for Myth of the Perfect Girl
Social Media Wellness: Helping Tweens and Teens Thrive in an Unbalanced Digital World (Corwin Teaching Essentials)