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What It Does To Little Girls When You Expect Them To Be 'Pretty And Small And Quiet'

Glennon Doyle Melton explains.

When she was a little girl, best-selling author and Momastery writer Glennon Doyle Melton was often described as “pretty” or “adorable.” People commented on her childhood beauty, and strangers were drawn in by her smile. But when a young Glennon would speak to these adults with confidence and clarity, she sensed them pulling back. 

As Glennon writes in her memoir, “Love Warrior,” she was about 10 years old when the disturbing realization hit her:

“I begin to understand that beauty warms people, and smart cools people.”

It’s a passage that stands out to Oprah, who asks the author about it when the two sit down for a conversation aired on “SuperSoul Sunday.” Glennon begins by describing society’s expectation for girls and how it influences their psyche.

“I think the world wants girls to be pretty and small and quiet,” she says. “As long as I was able to stay pretty and small and quiet, everything would be fine.”

Glennon, who has since become celebrated for her candor and openness, points out that society’s indoctrination of girls sets them up for failure. “How can you be a successful girl if the purpose of being human and growing is ... to find your voice?” she asks. “It’s a set-up.”

“SuperSoul Sunday” airs Sundays at 11 a.m. ET on OWN. You can also watch full episodes for a limited time on SuperSoul.tv or catch up any time on demand via the Watch OWN app.

Another moment from the interview:

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