By SOFIA ALEXIA
Home is the place where most habits are learned: our parents teach us a lot. A father teaches us how a man should be and a mother teaches us how a woman should be. If a father is abusive or controlling this behaviour will reflect upon his children. His daughter may become rebellious or isolate and end up with an abusive and controlling partner as this is what she is used to and subconsciously comfortable with in a man.
An abusive and controlling man will slowly but surely break down a girl’s self-image. Abusive and controlling men live in fear, fear of losing the powerful image they portray of themselves. These are very insecure men.
A controlling and abusive father will lead a daughter to live in fear and feel inadequate compared to other girls with positive supportive fathers.
A mother who is insecure about her image due to her fear of society not accepting her or her husband not being attracted to her anymore (especially if she is financially dependent on him) will pass on this insecurity onto the daughter. Bringing diets into the kitchen (the heart of the home) brings awareness to weight and self-image issues that aren’t healthy for a growing teenage daughter to see, helping to make her conscious of her body image and weight.
School is a sanctum where all the insecurities learned at home are taken. It’s a place where girls get to interact with other girls. So all of the insecurities they collect from their homes come to that one place. Insecurities come out in the form of gossip, jealousy, hate, violence and aggression. To deal with these unkind expressive behaviours, girls learn to build layers between their true authentic self (inside) and their exterior image (out). They learn to become what society wants them to be to avoid being bullied, gossiped about and to be socially accepted. There is no avoidance. There is just a loss of the authentic self, the secure self.
School is a place where self-image issues are nurtured and fed.
Church: a place to feel safe in the presence of a higher deity, a place where there is a meaning to life. How does church impact a girl’s self-image? Guilt.
Living with an eating disorder, feeling ungrateful and praying to for thinner thighs on a Sunday can make a girl feel extremely guilty. Wasting food when there are people starving out in the world is a sin, right?
Church is a place to connect with God but if you cannot feel God inside of you and be thankful and secure for everything He has blessed you with, church can be a guilt-ridden duty. Guilt can weaken a girl’s trust in the world adding fuel to the fire of her insecurities and therefore demeaning her image of herself.
To summarise: home is where insecurities are planted, school can feed the seed and church can sprinkle guilt upon the blossoming flower. Home should be a place of rest, school a place to connect with friends and learn and church a refuge.
Sofia Alexia is the author of A Goddess In Waiting: A Girl’s Guide To Self Discovery.