Developing a Young Women's Self-Image and Self-Esteem
As Latin American women, we are heirs of a culture of silence....
What hurts is the discovery of the measure of our silence. How deep it runs.
How many of us are indeed caught, unreconciled between two languages, two political poles, and suffer the insecurities of that straddling.”
Alma Gomez, Cherrie Moraga, Mariana Romo-Carmona
I am visible -- see this Indian face -- yet I am invisible.
I both blind them with my beak nose and am their blind spot.
But I exist, we exist.
They'd like to think I have melted in the pot.
But I haven't. We haven't.
I am playing with my Self, I am playing with the world's soul,
I am the dialogue between my Self and el espiritu
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To put faces behind the statistics of the AAUW survey, Orenstein interviewed girls from a cross-section of ethnic, class and family structures in two schools in Northern California. Despite an educational system supposedly designed to encourage the intellectual and social growth of all young people, students in the AAUW survey reported gender bias in the classroom. Boys receive the majority of their teachers’ attention and are rewarded for being outspoken and aggressive (xvi-xvii), while girls are rewarded for being silent and compliant, forcing them into the role of “outsiders in the learning process, passive observers rather than competent participants.” (226) So it is not surprising that, when asked what they like most about themselves, adolescent girls “cite an aspect of their physical appearance” and think they are “not smart enough” or “not good enough” to achieve their dreams. (xvi) Boys, on the other hand, name their talents as the thing they like most about themselves, and say they are “pretty good at a lot of things” (xvi).
Although all girls report having lower self-esteem than boys, “the severity and the nature of that reduced self-worth vary among ethnic groups.” (xvii) African-American girls have strong female role models in their community from which they can draw the strength and pride