How much competition is too much competition? The media, teachers, parents and friends push girls to be competitive in school and sports. Although it’s good to meet your own goals, is competition becoming unhealthy for young girls?
Today, girls feel the pressure to be nice, do well in school, succeed in extracurricular activities and never have a bad hair day. Emily, a 15 year-old, tells Girls’ Life Magazine that she felt like she had “to pull back and not try so hard” when her track teammates started making rude comments about her success. Similarly, Katie, 16, started playing tennis “poorly to avoid conflict with the team captain.”
Why are girls not going after what they want? Rachel Simmons, author of the Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls, claims it’s “a matter of lingering gender rules.” Although “confidence and competition are critical tools for success,” they are not considered feminine traits and “openly competitive behavior undermines the good girl personality.”
There is nothing wrong with wanting to look and act your best, but experts believe that the amount of pressure facing girls today is causing school and social activities to become more intense. Too many goals and a lot of pressure can result in bottled up feelings, which can lead to an increase in acting out, depression, eating disorders or even self-harm.
To reduce the pressure, young girls can strive to surpass personal goals one goal at a time. Trying to achieve one personal goal as opposed to trying to please others—can increase happiness, develop self-confidence and create a balanced, healthy life. To learn more about Unhealthy Competition, please check out this article.
- Samantha Bradbeer
Girl Museum, Inc.