Writer’s Name: Lorraine Elzia
Title: Reminding Her That She Wears a Crown
By virtue of her birth she is a queen; yet often the royalty of her birthright is lost due to debilitating thoughts, remarks, and actions which demolish her self-worth. Who is she? She’s your average African American teenage girl.
At a time when her body is changing, transforming from the framework of a child into that of a woman, she is also challenged with changes to the way she sees herself as well. Trying to find one’s self and establish an individual identity in the twenty-first century can be extremely hard for our young people. For a teenage girl, she has the added pressure put upon her of measuring up to cultural expectations and current standards of society’s view of beauty which exists on a higher level for her than the one put upon her male counterpart. In a world governed by constant images of standardized recognized beauty, coupled with a reliance on acceptance via social media, a girl’s self-esteem becomes prey to the definitions and labels of others. Often those definitions and labels cripple her self-esteem.
Suddenly that regal queen becomes a troubled, insecure, and emotionally empty young adult. Her emptiness should be our emptiness; because for each queen we lose due to her failure to live up to her potential, we, as a society, lose out on the gift she was supposed to give to the world, but didn’t, due to her own self-imposed doubt. Her loss is our loss.
It is important therefore, that we take a more active role in cultivating our young females by helping them battle against low self-esteem so that they may blossom into that which they were created to become. We do that by recognizing and helping erase the very things that chip away at their confidence level.
One of the major predators to the way a young adult looks at herself begins with her appearance/self-image. While it is easy to dismiss this as being vain or shallow, it is very important because most teenagers, to some degree, are concerned with how they are viewed by others. Body shape, complexion, hair and physical traits all play a part in how a young adult is viewed by others and how she feels about herself because of those viewpoints. A low self-image can be difficult to overcome. Obsession with the outer package for a young adult can skew a girl’s view of the total package that she truly is. Instead of concerning herself with the content of her character, she devalues herself based upon skin that is too light or too dark; weight that is above or lower than the norm; a behind or breasts that are too big or too small; and other things that have nothing to do with who she is on the inside.
Another important factor that plays a role in self-esteem is one which has been heightened lately by the insurgence of social media into a teenager’s life. Anxiety about fitting in at school or with peers has always been a problem for young adults. But with all the different venues available now due to modern technology, our young people not only engage in, but are expected to have an online presence outside of the normal walls of school or home.
Back in the day a teenager only had to worry about how they were viewed at family gatherings; during school hours and an occasional school-related event or two. But now, they are expected to have a presence on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter just to name a few. Suddenly, the yard stick of measuring who they are as a person has grown, and her measurements are out in the open for all to see, comment on, and judge. The pressure is literally and figuratively on. One wrong stroke of the keyboard, one bad hair day captured in a picture, or one wrong comment to a post, can all be triggers that catapult them into becoming a pariah; a state of existence of no return in the teenage mind.
It is important to recognize that teenagers need to feel valued and loved. If those two elements are not present in their lives, low self-esteem can be the result; and low teen self-esteem can lead to sexual activity which can result in teen pregnancy. It becomes a trickle-down effect. The need to feel loved by another person can be so strong that it overrides common sense, leaving a young woman with a reputation for being promiscuous, or becoming a mother at an age when she is just a child herself.
With all the pressure that threatens a young woman’s belief about herself, one of the major dangers to her is the cloud of depression that can hang over her due to low self-esteem. Depression can stem from her feeling as though she is not good looking enough; not worthy enough; not loved enough; and just in general, not good enough. In some cases, teenagers who cannot overcome their feelings of hopelessness and low self-esteem may resort to suicide. Something as simple as physical imperfections, peer pressure, or feeling unloved; all of which are temporary states of mind, can detour our young women from their destiny.
A young woman’s self-esteem can easily be broken. The challenges of life alone leave them ill equipped to instinctively fight back. But if the, “Village” takes the time to identify the sources, we can educate the child. We owe it to them and to ourselves. We need to help our young queens look past the obstacles, so that they can find their inner beauty; because that is where the real jewels of their worth reside.