– 14: Freeing Girls from a Culture of Perfectionism with Eliza Reynolds

This episode's guest is Eliza Reynolds. Eliza is a senior at Brown University where she is studying developmental and social psychology & Gender Studies.
Eliza was a peer-counselor throughout high school and an S.O.S. trained educator for Planned Parenthood. She continued to use these skills working in Providence city schools as a sexual health educator. Eliza has recently co-authored a book titled: Mothering and Daughtering: How to Create a Deep and Enduring Relationship Through the Teen Years with her mother Sil Reynolds. Eliza was a featured presenter at the 2013 Emerging Women Live Conference in Boulder, CO.
In this episode of Grace & Fire, Eliza and I speak about:

Perfectionism and her battle with her inner critic
How perfectionism isolates us as women and how she recommends to break these walls
Advice for Moms to help their daughters cultivate self-acceptance of their bodies
A final piece of wisdom for girls who are facing their inner critics

Tune in and listen to Freeing Girls from a Culture of Perfectionism with the young and insightful: Eliza Reynolds.

Subscribe to the Emerging Women podcast on iTunes.

Chantal Pierrat: Welcome, Eliza!

Eliza Reynolds: Well, thank you, Chantal!

CP: Now, tell us where you are right now.

ER: I am in Providence, Rhode Island. It is drizzling outside [and] that typical New England fog that’s settling in. I’m at school at Brown University, finishing up my senior year, and I’m curled up on my couch with my candle and my mug of tea. I’m so excited to be here talking to you.

CP: Nice! Now, you’re in your senior year, and you also just published a book that you co-wrote with your mother.

ER: Yes, ma’am, I did.

CP: And you also are launching, I believe, a website.

ER: Yes, I am. TheWholeGirl.com is the new beginning that I’m really excited about. I come from a background of teaching—actually, we’re in our eighth year of teaching together, my mother and I, and I’m 22, so that’s pretty exciting to have had this legacy of teaching behind us and really be heading into innovating material together as a mother-daughter team.

But as a senior [who’s] graduating, I’m launching my own work, The Whole Girl, which is looking at wholeness versus perfectionism, specifically in teenage girls today. But, gosh, our inner teenage girls never truly leave us. Even though I may be 22, I still feel pretty tied in, and I know, for example, women like my mother do as well.

So it’s for the whole girl in all of us, really. And [it’s about] looking at wholeness as an alternative model to perfectionism and to a pretty rapid and dangerous culture of perfectionism that often gets masked behind other standards or other goals that can be very dangerous. And [it’s about] looking at ways that we can see ourselves live as whole entities, whether it’s not just as a value of our bodies as the center of our identities—where we ourselves look at ourselves in wholeness and work to live for and towards wholeness as an experience.

CP: And do you have personal experience with perfectionism? Do you feel like you’ve been a perfectionist?

ER: Oh, yes ma’am! [Laughs] Oh gosh, yes. I can definitely say perfectionism has been one of my inner demons, among other things. Different traditions call it different things, whether it’s the super ego, to be Freudian, or the inner critic is definitely one, a phrase that speaks very powerfully to me, or if you look at it in Jungian psychology, often we hear the voice of the inner negative mother or the inner negative father. And for me, it’s been a pretty consistent cohabitant of my brain. And I would say that my inner critic, in many ways, has served me [by] kicking my own ass into gear in one of the most awesome ways.

And yet, there came a time that my inner critic was truly running the show, and that I was living in a place where I was being negatively driven from moment to moment, from achievement to achievement,