If you were to get a front-row seat in any of my coaching sessions, at some point, you’ll hear me support my clients to unhook from The Good Girl Complex.
The Good Girl Complex is the result of the social behaviours internalised by girls from childhood to please others – often at the cost of their own wellbeing or needs.
The Good Girl Complex leads us to:
- Become people pleasers at the cost of knowing our own needs.
- Experience difficulty in saying no.
- Not wanting to ruffle feathers or upset people.
- Being afraid of failing.
Unhooking from The Good Girl Complex can feel challenging. But when you start to do it, it’s EMPOWERING!
You start to reclaim your personal power. You begin to harness your voice and use it for the things that matter most to you. Not the things that you’ve been taught should matter most.
And if you ever wanted a masterclass in this, I encourage you to watch the Netflix documentary Miss Americana by Taylor Swift.
I’ve somehow missed out on Taylor’s 20-year career. Sure – I knew her name, but I didn’t know much about her.
I’m now a *huge* fan, and I think you will be, too, after watching her documentary.
In it, she shares her journey from being a perfect student of The Good Girl conditioning:
“When you’re living for the approval of strangers, and that’s where you derive all of your joy and fulfilment, one bad thing can cause everything to crumble.”
We see her world start to crumble in reaction to Kayne West’s MTV stage invasion that led to the then-President, Barack Obama, calling him a “Jackass!”
“For someone who’d built her entire belief system on getting everyone to clap for you, the whole crowd booing is a pretty formative experience. That was a catalyst for a lot of psychological paths I went down…….and not all of them beneficial.”
Taylor then shares how she went into overdrive to prove herself. To prove she was good enough. To prove she was the ‘good and nice girl’ she’d been conditioned to be.
As a result, Taylor went on to win Album Of The Year at the Grammys for the second time in a row in 2016 at the age of just 26. A phenomenal achievement (she’s since gone on to win for a third time) but she documents the impact of focusing so intensely on proving yourself at the cost of everything else.
She shares that she had a purpose crisis when she got to the top of the mountain.
Taylor powerfully shows us that her mum getting diagnosed with cancer woke her up to what was really important. She stopped worrying if the internet didn’t like her on any particular day after that.
We get to see the crazy beauty standards that women are held to. Especially women in the public eye. Taylor tells us:
“There’s always some standard of beauty you’re not meeting. If you’re thin enough, you don’t have that ass that everyone wants. But if you have enough weight on you to have an ass, then your stomach isn’t flat enough. It’s all f*cking impossible!”
We continue to hear how she’s navigated challenges that her Good Girl Complex made more difficult.
When Kayne West released a song calling her a b*tch, and she protested, the media turned against her.
Her reputation as a good person started to be questioned, and her world began to unravel. We see the painful impact of someone whose whole life had been centred around being a ‘good person’.
She wanted to disappear.
And did for a year.
“The reason why the backlash hurt so much was, because, that used to be all I had.”
When you build your whole purpose around being The Good Girl, it can be a fragile way live on.
This led to a massive reset for Taylor.
“I had to deconstruct an entire belief system for my own sanity.”
Taylor shares that this transformation made her *really* happy……..but not in the way that she’d been trained to be happy.
“It was happening without anyone else’s input.”
Which highlights the power of intrinsic motivation.
When you self-source your happiness, rather than doing stuff because of outside incentives or pressure, it can bring that deep contented happiness.
In this documentary, we see how Taylor starts to use her voice beyond her music.
She starts to get involved in politics despite her team begging her not to get involved. But we see Taylor step outside of her Good Girl Conditioning and find her voice and personal power:
“As much as I have in the past, and would like to continue, voting for women in office, I cannot support Marsha Blackburn. Her voting record in Congress appals and terrifies me. She voted against equal pay for women. She voted against the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which attempts to protect women from domestic violence, stalking, and date rape. She believes businesses have a right to refuse service to gay couples. She also believes they should not have the right to marry. These are not MY Tennessee values.”
Taylor had been conditioned as a female and musician to stay out of politics.
Being told a nice girl doesn’t force her opinion onto people. A nice girl just sits there, smiles and waves. A nice girl doesn’t make people feel uncomfortable with her views.
Taylor reflects on how, in the past, The Good Girl Complex had robbed her of her voice:
“I was so obsessed with not getting into trouble, I’m not going to do anything that anyone could say anything about.”
But as she begins to shed her Good Girl conditioning, we hear the power rise up within her:
“I’m getting to the point where I can’t listen to people saying ‘no stay out of it!’ I can’t do that anymore.”
We get to watch Taylor in conversation with her male producer while creating the song The Man. Responding to Taylor sharing the insights of misogyny, her producer comments:
“It must be so exhausting, you must have to be thinking about this sh*t all the f*cking time!”
“You are kind of doing a constant strategy in your head as to how not to be shamed for something on any given day. But then you get accused of being calculated for having a strategy. You do sort of have to twist yourself into a pretzel on an hourly basis.”
Taylor then shares how she is the victim of a sexual assault by a radio DJ. When she reports this to his boss and he gets fired, he goes on to sue her for millions of dollars.
Taylor responds by countersuing him for $1.
Despite seven people witnessing the assault and despite it being captured on camera, the court case is a profoundly traumatic experience for her.
We see Taylor emotionally reflect:
“I’m angry that this happens to women.
I’m angry that people are paid to antagonise victims.
The process is so dehumanizing.
This is with seven witnesses and photo evidence!
What happens when you get raped, and it’s his word against yours.”
At one of her concerts, precisely a year after her experience in the courtroom in Denver, she emotionally shared with the packed stadium that her court case was for people that weren’t believed. For people that don’t speak up for fear that they won’t be believed.
Taylor reveals that this sexual assault case was a painful but pivotal moment in her life:
“Next time there is any opportunity to change anything you had better know what you stand for and what you want to say!”
We see Taylor shift from Maiden to Matriarch and find her voice for the things that matter.
She shares the fear and pride in using her voice. Sharing with her 112 million followers on social media what she stands for.
She recognises it’s risky for a celebrity to use their status for political means but that she’s not willing to tolerate disappointing herself for fear of losing popularity.
We watch as she uses her music and voice to influence the next generation and pours her passion into her song Only The Young.
We see her shift from Good Girl to an Activist as she declares:
“It’s time to take the masking tape off my mouth…….like, forever!”
And she leaves us with this parting comment in her masterclass on unhooking from The Good Girl Complex:
“I’m trying to educate myself on how to deprogramme the misogyny in my own brain. To toss it out. Reject it. Resist it.”
I never expected to be saying this – but Taylor Swift is now my role model in navigating the Good Girl Complex and freeing yourself from it.
I have no doubt that if you watch her documentary, you will get inspired too.
Here’s to taking the masking tape off!