Let It Go -- Exploring And Escaping The 'Good Girl' Syndrome

Why is a 60-year-old woman going to see 'Frozen', an animated children's Disney movie, for the third time? The answer is that this film quite honestly changed my life.
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

Why is a 60-year-old woman going to see "Frozen", an animated children's Disney movie, for the third time? The answer is that this film quite honestly changed my life. "Frozen" is one of those wonderfully scripted movies that targets young girls but also resonates with sisters, mothers and grandmothers alike. Beyond being entertaining, the movie delivers an important message for women of all ages:

Stop trying to please everyone, forget perfection, don't be afraid to be different and be true to yourself. Stop being a "good girl."

For many older women, being a "good girl" was stressed by family and teachers from a young age. It manifests itself in broken marriages, unfulfilled careers and parental challenges. Like Elsa, we struggled for years to "let it go." My guess is that many teenage girls and young women also suffer from the "good girl syndrome." What are its symptoms? We feel an intangible urge to want to please everyone. Many of us feel that we are never good enough. Or, perhaps we are afraid to show our true emotions or judge ourselves by our own standards.

If you are a young woman reading this article, be aware that the idea of being a "good girl" is one of the most common things older women say held them back and caused pain in their lives. When I put this question to the Sixty and Me community, many women said it had taken them their entire lives to break free. If you start to challenge this now, you have a greater chance of living free of other's expectations, feeling worthy and finding more fun and adventure in your life.

Here are some of the comments from older women in the Sixty and Me community. I hope that their experiences will help women of all ages.

Have you ever experienced the "Good Girl Syndrome?"
  • I'm getting over it, but what a shame it's taken so long! It concerns me when I see signs of it in my daughter in her 30s.
  • Definitely! Always be nice or you are a bad girl. Now I realize I am good enough just as I am.
  • Yes, but I'm still trying to change. It's hard.
  • All my life I have been trying to get my parents' approval.
  • As I've gotten older, others' opinions of me matter less and less. Now it's more about being true to myself rather than trying always to please others.
  • I've felt it my entire life. Now because I am single in my 60s and wanting to find love again, it is really, really there.
  • Definitely I am struggling with this one while launching my business.
  • Yes, at times. And, it can be paralyzing and feel overwhelming.
  • Yes, it was so soul destroying and so hard to avoid. I never did stop hearing that voice!
Have you broken free of the "Good Girl Syndrome?"
  • Yes, now I'm growing old disgracefully :-)
  • Yes, I am feeling that at my age I don't have to please anyone.
  • Keep your values, your culture and family but forget about someone else's idea of "perfection."
  • What you see is what you get. Take it or leave it that's my motto now.
  • I like who I am and others can accept me or not. It does not matter. I'm comfortable in my own skin.
  • Age has mellowed me in that way. I'm very accepting of me today. I'm happy with my perfections and imperfections!
  • I always tried to be a good girl and I still do. I do not worry about not being good enough. Now I am comfortable with who I am. I enjoy helping people, being there for my family, friends and neighbours.
  • Yes. You must love yourself first and hold your head up high.
  • It's been a long time getting here, and a big lesson, but great now I can concentrate on me.

"Frozen" reveals a road-map for the journey from being a "good girl" to one defined by self-acceptance and confidence. I would suggest that you listen to the song "Let It Go" and join Elsa as she sings "I'm never going back; the past is in the past! That perfect girl is gone." For young women, go create your own beautiful unbounded, empowered life now. Don't wait until you are 60. If you are in your 60s, don't wait for another second.

How has the "Good Girl Syndrome" impacted your life? Please add your thoughts in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or in the Sixty and Me forum.

Earlier on Huff/Post50:

The Lipstick Queen

5 Inspiring Female Entrepreneurs Over 50

Popular in the Community


What's Hot