I’m Tanya Meessmann and you’re listening to Episode 7 of the Raising Girl Shaped Flames podcast.
It’s my fundamental belief that every girl has a fire in her belly and confidence is the oxygen to those flames. If you’re the parent of a teenage girl who could do with a confidence injection, listen in as we deep dive into the relationship between confidence and the areas of your daughter’s life it directly impacts, such as happiness, resilience, communication, connection, and much more. I aim to leave you inspired by new ways to build your daughter’s self-belief and nurture her flame from a flicker into an inferno. All right. All right. Enough of the fire puns already. Let’s strike the match.
Tanya Meessmann: (00:52)
Hi everyone. And welcome to episode 7. Today, we are doing two of my favourite things: talking to teenage girls about confidence and announcing a brilliant competition with our partners, Red by Modibodi and Bright Girl Health. A bit more on that in a minute. Now we’ve had some really engaging guests on the series so far, but at the end of the day, there’s only one group of people who can really offer us accurate insights about how they feel about confidence. And that is the girls themselves.
Our Girl Shaped Flames representative, grade 12 student Charlotte, hit the playground in search of some answers to questions. Like what does confidence really mean to you? What helps and what harms your confidence and what do you wish your parents were doing more or maybe less of to build your confidence and while there were a few responses that work to confirm what we already know, there were some amazing reveals about the different roles that friends play in their lives, what they would actually do with more confidence if they had it, and whether they intentionally speak to anyone about confidence, kind of as a concept, Charlotte also offers her own very mature take on the girls’ responses and her experiences. She has a strong female role model mother, and now she’s reaching the end of her teenage years and she talks about how she’s found peace and confidence with her own self and abilities.
Now, if you’re interested in Dr. Diane Harner’s take on confidence, head back to episode one of the Raising Girl Shaped Flames podcast, and you can hear her nine minutes of neuroscience that was focused solely on confidence as the topic and the teenage girl brain. Now onto that competition I mentioned earlier. It’s natural for people and organisations dedicated to the development of teen girl confidence to be drawn to one another through the ether.
Tanya Meessmann: (02:45)
And that exactly was the case with Girl Shaped Flames, Red by Modibodi and Bright Girl Health. Ensuring girls are feeling empowered, confident, and strong are our number one priority. So we decided to come together and show the girls we really mean it. Now to be in the running to win a really exciting prize pack. And in the prize pack, you score for your daughter or for any girls listing for yourselves, not only a seven pack of her choice of Red by Modibodi underwear and our Girl Shaped Flames “Stronger Than You Know”, our online course, but you also win a 45 minute parent or a mentoring session with myself, Tanya from Girl Shaped Flames and another one with the founder of Bright Girl Health, Demi Spaccavento.
So it’s super easy to enter, just head to comp.girlshapedflames.com and answer the question in 25 words or less: What does confidence mean to you now? Parents and daughters are both welcome to enter and we’ll be drawing the competition just after it closes on the 10th of July. I’ll pop the link in the show notes. So make sure you jump over there and don’t miss out.
Okay. We’ve definitely got the confident vibe going on now. So let’s get into our really great discussion about confidence with Charlotte and six other girls at her school this week. I sent Charlotte out on a little bit of a research project for Girl Shaped Flames, which I personally have been really excited to find out. As I mentioned earlier, a lot of the reason I started Girl Shaped Flames was to get some more face time with the girls and really dive into a very thorough understanding of what goes on with them. What is challenging their confidence and how most importantly Girl Shaped Flames and their parents can help them through all of that. So I sent Charlotte out with a series of questions that she helped put together so that we could dig around these topic and get a better understanding from some of our friends. And I’m joined today by Charlotte. Who’s going to give us a bit of a rundown on how that all went. Welcome to the Raising Girl Shaped Flames podcast, Charlotte.
Thank you so much for having me.
INTERVIEWS BY CHARLOTTE
Tanya Meessmann: (04:52)
Thank you very much for hanging out there and getting us some fantastic insight and feedback from some of the girls that you go to school with. Can you explain to the listeners a little bit about what I asked you to do and how you went about doing it?
It was such a lovely experience. I don’t usually get to talk to a lot of girls from different grades. What I tried to do is find one girl from every grade, so we got a good range. I have friends who are prefects so they know the younger girls and I got them to find me girls with different personalities and from all different walks of life, so that we could get a really good understanding of, you know, girls as a whole.
Tanya Meessmann: (05:40)
Yeah, perfect. Like a good cross section basically to kind of represent what girls think about when it comes to confidence. Now we have pulled together the responses because you managed to record each of their responses, which is really great. And we’ve got six key questions that really look at what girls understand when it comes to confidence: what helps and hurts their confidence? What do they wish they were more confident about? And for all the parents listening that critical question, if they could give their parents one piece of advice about helping their confidence, what would it be? And I’m going to make the parents stay tuned until right at the end so they can get the answer to that one. Let’s dive in question by question. So first, what we’re going to do is hear the responses from the girls when they are describing what is a confident person to them.
Describe a confident person.
Teen girls: (06:35)
I’d probably say just happy in themselves. Wanting to have fun, I’d say, and yeah, just being carefree. Someone who’s not afraid to speak over people. If they have to not afraid to be like who they are, someone who is really organised and planned out and really happy with what they’re saying and like what they’re doing, they’re confident about their abilities and their self.
Teen girls: (07:02)
A confident person is not only confident with speaking and can just do things without other people caring, but can also be compassionate. So they’re not someone that doesn’t care about anyone else or what they think, but it’s more just like they just like push mean comments away and they just will take in happy ones, you know?
Teen girls: (07:24)
When you say confident person, I kind of thought of Zendaya, all her female empowerment, that’s really inspiring to me. A lot of people around the school, I see just doing their own thing without thinking about what other people are thinking like that. I think very confident. Brave. Yeah. That’s really nice. I mean, I think it’s just someone who knows who they are and are just like unapologetic for who they are.
Tanya Meessmann: (07:59)
So that was amazing. That’s a great sort of nice cross section there of different girls’ understanding of what makes a confident person. Were they the kinds of responses you were anticipating?
Honestly, I was a bit surprised with some of them. I thought it was really lovely. How many of the comments were about not just not caring what anyone thought, but just about being confident in yourself and trusting yourself. I really liked the one where it was about still being compassionate. I think that a lot of the time people think that confidence is just, you know, not listening to anyone and not caring, but yeah, it was nice.
Tanya Meessmann: (08:37)
Great. And what about you? How would you describe a confident person?
I think that a confident person, isn’t someone who blindly thinks that they can do anything in the world right now. I think it’s someone who knows and believes that as long as they really focus and put their mind to something, they can achieve what they want to.
Tanya Meessmann: (09:03)
Yeah. Nice. After the girls sort of clarified that we went into a bit about why is confidence actually important? We’ve got a great variety of responses there, which we’ll take a quick listen to.
Why do you think confidence is important?
Teen girls: (09:24)
Confidence is important to me, especially as I do a lot of sport and stuff. Like I want to feel confident in my ability what I do, for example, like basketball. I want to feel confident in my game and stuff. I also want to feel confident just to be, just to feel happy about myself. Like if I’m doing assessment or anything, I want to feel confident in what I’m handing in or anything like that.
What helps you be yourself?
Teen girls: (09:49)
It’s like your self worth. It’s how you see yourself and how much do you value yourself? It would just eventually make you a happier person. And I think that it’s nice to be around confident people because it also lifts your mood. So I think, yeah, being confident is good, beneficial for everyone.
Teen girls: (10:11)
It’s important to me because I like to do a lot of things. Like I overcame it myself and the only way for me to enjoy those things, if I’m confident, make friends and do all that kind of stuff.
Teen girls: (10:23)
I think it just gives you like the ability to empower yourself. And I think it just enables you to be sure in what you’re doing and your choices and just general life decisions.
Tanya Meessmann: (10:42)
So some great insight there. And for me personally, running an organisation like Girl Shaped Flames, it’s really reassuring to hear those kinds of responses from the girls and see the value that confidence really does play in their lives. How did you come away from those answers to those questions? What are your thoughts?
I thought it was so lovely to hear how many of the responses were about just being happy. And self-assured, I thought that I found that really uplifting in that. It seems that it’s more about feeling good in yourself instead of externally coming off as a confident or extroverted person.
Tanya Meessmann: (11:21)
And what about you personally? Has there been a specific time or a thing in your life where confidence has actually helped you in that moment or achieve that thing?
Confidence has been incredibly important for me all throughout my life. Um, when I was younger, I wasn’t super confident as a lot of young kids are, you know, it’s difficult. I found that confidence has been really important in me standing up for myself and knowing when I’m in a situation that I don’t want to be in and knowing my self worth and what things I should say no to.
Tanya Meessmann: (12:04)
That goes very nicely with our previous episode, we did with Erica Berchrtold, the CEO of The Iconic, where we talked about setting boundaries and the role that confidence plays in helping girls set and hold those boundaries, which is a really good episode. And if anyone listening hasn’t checked it out, I’m pretty sure it’s episode five back over in our main podcast page. Alright. So moving swiftly on into some slightly more juicy answers here where we asked the girls who or what actually helps their confidence. And this is something, again, it’s really valuable to know, because we might think we know what we can be doing to help their confidence, but there were some really nice insights here that the girls provided. So we’ll have a bit of a listen.
Who, or what helps your confidence?
Teen girls: (13:00)
I think my friends definitely, because also I’m around them a lot, especially during school. My parents, yeah. Mainly my friends and my people I’m close to.
Teen girls: (13:11)
The thing that helps my confidence is other people like my friends who really back me up and support me if I’m doing like assignments or like an oral task, there’ll be that. And like also if afterwards I do an oral task for example, and they give me supportive words and words of wisdom, I guess that really helps. Helping each other up and getting each other confidence.
Teen girls: (13:36)
I mean, if my friends are around, like right now, it pretty much helps. Because then I’m not by myself and it’s not that awkward, I guess. I mean, just people I know in general.
Teen girls: (13:47)
Swimming helped my confidence a lot. Just being in the pool with my friends and my coaches. Aelin from Throne of Glass was like a massive inspiration because she was the first female character I’d ever seen, who was confident in the way she like looked and wasn’t a bad person because the only other examples you really have, like the evil queen or like Malificent who were very, very vain, but definitely evil. Other than that, you don’t get anyone who’s confident in their appearance and good. So yeah, she helped me a lot.
Tanya Meessmann: (14:29)
So that was interesting. And I think from my perspective, and I’m probably speak on behalf of the parents listening really reassuring to hear the positive role that friends are playing in the girls’ lives because we hear so many horror stories about friendships going sideways, especially when it comes to girls. So to hear the positive impact that these friendships are having on them was really amazing. What did you think coming off the back of that?
I think that it really shows the importance and the influence that the people that are around you have on you and your confidence. So many of the girls are talking about either their friends or their family. And I think as we’ll see in the next question, sometimes that can go badly if you don’t choose the people, or your clan, correctly.
Tanya Meessmann: (15:17)
Nice segue. Before we jump into that next one, I want to know who has been the person that’s helped your confidence the most in the last couple of years?
Probably a bit of a stereotypical answer, but definitely my mum, not because she pumps me up and tells me I’m amazing all the time, but because she has just been a really fantastic role model. And I think that that’s what’s really important -not telling people they’re amazing, but showing people how great it can be to really feel confident in yourself, to know that you’re good at things. I think that that’s probably even more powerful than just saying people are great because sometimes that can come off as a little superficial I find.
Tanya Meessmann: (16:05)
Hmm. Leading by example, make sure your mom listens to this podcast recording. And then speaking of, you know, the girls helping each other bolster their confidence. I mean, do you see a lot of evidence of that in everyday life? Or do we still have remnants of the tall poppy syndrome and there being a competitiveness between girls. What of that are you actually witnessing in day to day life?
I think that this is a really difficult question because so often girls are very subtle about this sort of thing. And so I think sometimes you can feel it, but I also think that I think competition in terms of academics or those sorts of things, are fine and can be healthy. I’ve definitely been at school and there have been comparisons around people’s bodies or boyfriends or that sort of thing. And so I think that it definitely does still happen, which is a big problem. But I think that once again, like so many of the girls said their friends helped that confidence. And so I think that that shows that they are with the right people. And if you are in a group of friends where you’re feeling you need to compete, then you should get out of there. Honestly.
Tanya Meessmann: (17:31)
Yeah, absolutely. I absolutely think you’re spot on there around healthy competition. I mean, I think back, I remember I moved high schools in grade nine and I’d already been doing a drama class with a girl outside of school and we had sort of developed a bit of competitiveness. We didn’t know each other very well, but we knew that we were the two to beat basically when it came to drama. And then when I moved schools and I went to the new school, she was in my class and I was like, right, it’s on, you know, here we go. This is competitive. And we sort of sized each other up for the first couple of weeks. And then I think we both put in assignments or something and we both nailed it. And then it was a conversation about the assignment afterwards, where we ended up sort of making some suggestions to each other about each other’s assignments. And we just like clicked. We just clicked in our own ambition and drive and support for each other. And that was in grade nine. And she was one of my bridesmaids at my wedding. She’s still one of my besties. And I think that it is that healthy sort of alliance that you can get rather than competing. Like you say, for some of those fleeting aspects of life like boys and fashion and popularity. Alright, let’s dive into what you asked the girls which is of equal importance as what helps their confidence. And that is what hurts their confidence. Let’s listen.
Who or what hurts your confidence?
Teen girls: (19:06)
Would it be weird to say myself, I guess when I over think things that obviously will pull me down further and further as I kind of spiral, I’d say for me mostly myself.
Teen girls: (19:17)
Feeling excluded, and not being able to put my ideas forward. Hurting my confidence would be people who put you down or who like maybe glare at you or who are just rude to you when you’re trying your best and trying to feel organised and improving on yourself.
Teen girls: (19:38)
I mean, if I’m with someone that I’m uncomfortable around, who isn’t the friendliest or maybe is like scary in a way, who’s got a lot of power then I’ll feel less confident.
Teen girls: (19:56)
I think my friends more than anyone. They don’t actually hurt my confidence, I don’t allow other people to have my confidence anymore basically. So the only people who actually hurt my confidence are the people I trust. So being vulnerable. I guess how other people act. It’s not how they act towards me. It’s how they act when they see themselves. It’s like some sort of pressure about how I should see myself then, in terms of what I do. So if other people are putting themselves down, you’re like, Oh, should I do that too? I’d probably say mostly the media just being like on Instagram, being infiltrated with models where obviously it’s their job to look thin and skinny. I don’t think that the media should be portraying just one image of bodies and I think definitely it’s very unrealistic, but it just, it does infiltrate our minds. So I think that should be changed, but that would probably hurt it the most.
Tanya Meessmann: (21:09)
So it’s always a little bit hard to hear some of the not so nice things that are happening to our girls. What did you think when you were hearing what the girls were sharing with you and did they find it hard to share that with you?
I think they definitely did. They got kind of a lot shyer and smaller and their voices kind of went down and they kind of looked down at the floor, which was difficult. And a lot of them were speaking about, you know, people that they were around that were mean to them or friends, or people online. And so I think that, again goes to show how important it is to create the space that you want to exist in the people that you want to exist in because they can have such a profound effect on people.
Tanya Meessmann: (22:00)
So now that they’d had a little think about what helps their confidence and then what hurts their confidence, we then went into a little bit of aspirational, what things would they actually want to do if they had more confidence? And I personally really loved hearing the responses to this particular question, because it just really shows what’s inside them, what they really want to go out there and achieve. So we’ll have a little listen.
Is there anything that you wish you had more confidence to be able to do?
Teen girls: (22:37)
I wish I had the confidence to just speak my mind more than I do. I wish I could be more confident, like in class, like speak up more and that stuff. Well, I’d like to improve on my oral speaking as I’ve started getting better with it and I’d like to improve on that. I’d probably say put myself out there more. I think a lot of the reason that I don’t is because I’m not confident with myself enough to worry about what other people think. So yeah. Put myself out there. I’d say,
Teen girls: (23:14)
I mean, sometimes I sign up to things and then I like really want to do it. But then when it gets to the time I sometimes back out of it. And so I wish I had the confidence to stick through with what I’ve got instead of backing out at the last minute and then regretting what I’ve decided to do.
Teen girls: (23:31)
Texting people. I am so awkward and not confident when it comes to texting people. So yeah. Yeah. Just being casual about that would be great.
Tanya Meessmann: (23:54)
So public speaking, I’m not even going to act surprised. Because I must admit over the last few years running Girl Shaped Flames, this comes up all the time. And I think as adults, we associate public speaking with something quite formal, the fact that you’re going to get up and you’re going to give a presentation to a board room or a speech at a conference. And to us, it’s a very formal thing, but I think what’s been such an interesting insight is that it really just boils down to having the actual confidence to be heard and to raise your voice and to speak up at a point in time, when you have something to say, that’s really what is meant by public speaking by the girls so often. Did you expect to hear that from the girls, that if they had more confidence, that’s how they would use it?
I’m definitely not surprised, but I’m disappointed because I think about how many people struggle to articulate their ideas and how much we’re missing out on because people can’t make their voice heard. And I think that that’s such a shame and I wonder how many great ideas we’re losing, because if you aren’t able to articulate yourself, it doesn’t matter how great your ideas are. If no one can hear them, there’s not really any point in having them.
Tanya Meessmann: (25:07)
Yeah, absolutely. And I think even the personal development side of things, we know if you voice a thought or opinion or a feeling, and that is received well or appreciated or complimented or even just nodded along, it just goes so far to bolster that internal self belief, that you’re on the right track and that, your thoughts are valid and your feelings are valid. And if girls are not even having the confidence to speak up and to have their thoughts or feelings be put out there so that they can explore that, it feels as though that really hinders their ability to develop that understanding of themselves and to develop that confidence and belief in their own thoughts. And instead spending a lot of time inside, processing lots of internal thoughts and thinking, without having that confidence to go out there and say them out loud. Alright, we have reached the final question, which everyone has been waiting for with bated breath. And that is if you could give your parents one piece of advice about helping your confidence, what would it be? And there was some interesting responses to this one. Let’s have a listen.
If you could give any advice to your parents about ways to help you with your confidence or ways that they’re hurting your confidence, what would that be?
Teen girls: (26:37)
When I’m driving mum’s really aggressive when I’m doing something wrong, it terrifies me and I’m already stressed.
Teen girls: (26:49)
I mean, just namely not being as weird as they are. This might sound funny, but if you’ve got a new friend, they can be a bit over the top with it instead of just being chill and letting us take our time.
Teen girls: (27:07)
I think my parents, they know that they shouldn’t give me a big head. So I’m not saying they put me down a lot, but they’re not exactly complimenting me all the time, and praising and all that stuff, which I think is good for me as an individual, because then I can say to myself: “No, you’re doing great. Keep going. Or: we’ve got to change the pace.” You know, the change is coming from myself and not from what someone else has said to me. So you’re not relying on that outside validation. Now it’s not really much, but mum’s pretty good.
What does she do that’s good?
Teen girls: (27:46)
She doesn’t comment on my appearance much, which I think is a really good thing. Because it’s not “Oh, you look really nice today” and it implies that you don’t look nice on other days, and that’s really nice. And she also doesn’t comment on my weight, like, ever.
Teen girls: (28:02)
I think my parents have given me a lot of support and things and yeah, I’d like them to continue doing that. Beause it really builds me up and feeds my ego, but in a good way, of course, to feel better when I’m doing things. They’re cool. So they just really give you words of encouragement.
Teen girls: (28:23)
I’d probably say I’d probably thank them because they’ve always been supportive in everything that I’ve had an interest in. So I just say, yeah, keep on supporting me. Yeah. Keep on pushing me.
Tanya Meessmann: (28:42)
One thing I really wanted to ask you was why do you think some of the girls struggled a little bit to either think of or articulate what it is that their parents could actually do to help them with their confidence?
I think that something that a lovely girl said was, Oh, I’ve never thought about it. Oh, that’s an interesting question. And I think the thing is that we don’t talk about it enough. People aren’t really looking to pick apart what their parents are doing and how that’s helping or not helping them. And so I think it can be hard to pinpoint.
Tanya Meessmann: (29:23)
What they want out of their parents?
Yeah. Yeah. And I think that a lot of people haven’t identified what helps or hurts their confidence properly. I think that a lot of the time we think it’s something, but then it’s actually not. And so, yeah, it’s difficult.
Tanya Meessmann: (29:38)
Do you feel, just out of interest, after you did this exercise with the girls, do you feel that any many or any of them left the conversation thinking to themselves, maybe I will chat to my parents about it or maybe I’ll just take them into consideration a little bit more. Like, do you think that sort of triggered anything with them?
I hope so. You could definitely tell they had to really think through what they were saying. And so I think that it’s really good to get that thought process going and hopefully that continues.
Tanya Meessmann: (30:08)
Yeah, absolutely. So you’ve got two questions left from me. I want to know. We’ve already talked about the fact that your mom’s being a really strong role model in your life, but on that point about whether it’s, you know, confidence is an actual topic and an actual thing, do you ever sit around the dinner table and talk about your confidence or when you’re on a drive or something, does that ever come up very specifically or do you find that you sort of end up talking kind of around the topic and it’s more about the things that you are doing or feeling that are impacting your confidence?
We actually talk about it a fair amount. But more in hindsight. So I’m at a point in my life where I feel pretty good about myself. I’ve definitely come a long way. We talk about it more in how far I’ve come and the things that have helped and how wonderful it is to be where I’m at.
Tanya Meessmann: (31:10)
Nice and must be nice to be able to sort of identify and pinpoint some of those things. And it must be also super nice for your mum to get the opportunity to say, I told you so like 90 times, right? Okay. Final question. I’m going to put the weight of all teenage girls in Australia on your shoulders and ask you what would be the single piece of advice that you could give parents who want to raise strong, confident and courageous daughters?
My single piece of advice would be from a young age, always include them in conversations, always make them feel heard. That’s something that my parents did to me a lot. I, I would always ask to sit at the grownup table because I preferred talking to adults than I did to kids my own age, because I was so interested in what they were talking about. And I think a lot of the time we underestimate young kids and how much they can take or understand. But if you just take a short time to explain it to them, they really understand quite a lot. And I think that’s really all confidence is, even when you’re in a group of people who are absolutely above you in terms of age or status or anything like that, you still feel that your voice is valid and your opinions are valid, and what you have to say has value. And I think that if you start that from a really young age, then that will have a massive impact on your girls.
Tanya Meessmann: (32:48)
That is amazing and very powerful insight. Thank you, Charlotte. That’s so great. And thank you for undertaking that little research exercise for us. I think it’s really important that we keep actively listening to the voices of all the girls your age. And I know that’s something I prioritise with Girl Shaped Flames and I’m proud to say that so many of the decisions that have been made around what we do and how we try to help girls build their confidence has come directly from actually asking all of you, like, what do you want and how can we do it better? So, and that’s exactly why parents are listening to this episode today, because they really want to know how can they better help their daughters, and help raise really confident girls. So I appreciate so much your going and doing that. Thank you very much and all the best for the rest of the year.
It was a lot of fun. Thank you so much for having me.
Tanya Meessmann: (33:39)
I have to admit that whole exercise left me equal parts joyous and nostalgic. I really miss connecting with the girls regularly in person and reminding them how amazing and capable and strong they are, which also reminds me: if you haven’t already do check out our Stronger Than You Know online course for your daughter.
It’s a seven module, self paced course that I deliver that will really help her develop a more comprehensive understanding about herself, her strengths, how to reach her goals and ultimately what she’s really capable of and build what we’ve been talking about all day, her confidence. So the link is in the show notes, and while you’re there, don’t forget to enter the “Confidence Is Key” competition proudly brought to you by Girl Shaped Flames, Red by Modibodi and Bright Girl Health.
If you’d like to share any of your own insights about your daughter’s confidence, please feel very welcome to come and join our Raising Girl Shaped Flames Facebook community. We have almost 200 parents in the community, all learning together, how to raise strong, confident and self-assured daughters. So hopefully I’ll see you in there and until then: keep fanning her flame.
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