By Ms Linda Douglas, Principal
Each year, Ruyton recognises International Women’s Day, a day to celebrate the achievements and contributions women have made and continue to make economically, socially, culturally and politically. Last year TED talks released Teach Girls Bravery, Not Perfection. It is a talk with a strong message for us all, a reminder to cultivate a culture of excellence, of personal best, not a search for perfection for the women of tomorrow.
At the inaugural Global Forum for Girls’ Education, Dr Tara Christie Kinsey, principal at The Hewitt School, and Rachel Simmons, author, educator and co-founder of the Girls’ Leadership Institute presented a session on The Myth of Effortless Perfection. First coined in Duke University’s landmark study by the Women’s Initiative in 2003, the concept of ‘effortless perfection’ has given a name to the constant pressure felt by young women to be ‘smart, accomplished, fit, beautiful and popular,’ all without ‘visible effort.’ The price of such a lofty goal can have far-reaching consequences. The truth is that effortless perfection just isn’t real.
There are a number of issues that create the core of girl struggles today. The complicated nature of self-esteem, along with internalising behaviours, can lead to stress, depression and anxiety. We understand the need for girls to experience failure but we fail to recognise at times that girls, particularly high-achieving girls, are debilitated by failure and therefore are less likely to take risks. We need to actively teach girls the benefits of failure and clearly articulate the nature of feedback, while being sensitive to their possible interpretation.
Maniacal over-preparation, otherwise referred to as performing with a capital P, is not uncommon in high-achieving girls. Young women never talk about what they want to do, but rather the things they have to do. With this in mind it is imperative that we focus on restoring their agency to say no and give them time and permission to contemplate what matters and why.
As parents, leaders and educators we have a responsibility to support our girls to feel worthy, so that they have the courage to feel imperfect. They need to see us sweat, see us fail, and see us recover: see us fall down seven times and get up eight. We need to be real for them so they can truly be themselves.
At Ruyton our focus on continually reviewing our wellbeing programs, increasing our opportunities for mindfulness, and providing opportunities for mentoring and coaching, are all important as we grow our girls. We need to champion them, introduce them to opportunities, and lift them up to help them to achieve what’s really possible for them. We also need to support them to learn from times of failure and lack of self-belief. We all need to focus on supporting our girls to be brave and true to themselves.
‘Understanding the difference between healthy striving and perfectionism is critical to laying down the shield and picking up your life. Research shows that perfectionism hampers success. In fact, it’s often the path to depression, anxiety, addiction, and life paralysis.’ Dr Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are.
To learn more about Ruyton, click here to see their School Choice profile: Ruyton Girls’ School
As an independent, forward thinking girls’ school, Ruyton is committed to preparing girls for a lifetime of learning, leadership and […]