When I was young, I was convinced that I would somehow become a boy. I rode my bike everywhere, beat-up boys twice my size, stood my ground against the playground bullies and even had three paper routes by the time I was nine. I had plenty of confidence and was determined I’d become either a witch or an astronaut. I spent my childhood believing I was a strong girl who could either fight anyone or run away faster than someone could catch me. Being raised in a household where we didn’t watch T.V., or even see a fashion magazine, I never had the “knowledge” that a girl was deemed somehow inferior to a boy. It was great, but then I got older.
My innocence was destroyed when I was twelve. When I went to collect money for my paper route at a certain house and I went to the back door, just as I always had, and the owner’s son answered the door in a tee-shirt and nothing else. I had no idea what to do. He gave me my money, and I went home. I told my parents what happened, but instead of doing anything, I was told I was in the wrong because I went to the back door. According to the paper’s rules, we were to collect at the door we left the paper in, and that was what I did. My parents didn’t call the police or tell the paper. I was at fault because I went to the back door.
As a parent, I am just breathless with this response. I don’t know how my parents justified their actions, but I know that I would never do that to my own child. But from that time on, I began to question myself over everything. My confidence was gone, and on some level I realized that I couldn’t protect myself from everything, and my parents wouldn’t.
Research shows that girls lose confidence in themselves starting around age eleven or so, and that this has a devastating effect on the growth and development of girls and women. This is important, and we really need to look at these results. We don’t need half of our population walking around with little confidence. Life can be so much more, and we need to stress this in our education of our children. Let’s try and boost our own confidence and that of our girls.