In Majo Molfino’s Debut Book, The Argentine Author Teaches Us How To Break Free from the Good Girl Myth
It’s not uncommon to hear women share that they’ve sacrificed their career aspirations or passion projects because they didn’t align with the standards someone else set up for them. Majo Molfino wants women to stop subscribing to these external guidelines and, instead, follow frameworks that fortify their gifts and dreams.
In Break the Good Girl Myth, the Argentine-American author identifies five self-sabotaging tendencies she believes women need to relinquish in order to unleash their power and lead lives of purpose.
According to Molfino, also a designer and women’s leadership expert, there are five so-called good girl myths: the Myth of Rules, following authority instead of trusting ourselves; the Myth of Perfection, demanding perfection in ourselves and others instead of accepting reality; the Myth of Logic, choosing logic over intuition; The Myth of Harmony, seeking harmony instead of embracing conflict; and the Myth of Sacrifice, putting other people’s needs ahead of our own.
“We pick these messages up as little girls, and that follows us into adulthood,” Molfino, who is also the host of the women’s empowerment podcast Heroine, tells FIERCE. “It’s the subconscious and self-sabotaging beliefs about ourselves that I believe hold women back in becoming their fullest expression.”
In her book, which was published this year by HarperOne, Molfino leans on mindfulness and practical design tools to help women first understand the myths that most actively thwart them from enjoying the lives they’re meant to be living as well as help them build the creative confidence they need to break free from these limiting myths and share their talents, visions and joys with the world.
“There are a lot of women who are brilliant and who are sitting on incredible gold, but they can sit on that gold for weeks, months or years, and part of the reason that they delay sharing their gifts is because of the five good girls myths,” she says. “I want women to read this and feel ready to become the women they’re meant to be instead of the women the world wants them to be.”
Understanding how some of these good girl myths have seeped into Latin American culture, and still permeate in many Latinx houses, Molfino breaks down some examples of how these good girls myths manifest for Latinas and how we can all work to resist them.
1. The pressure to take career paths we aren’t passionate about:
“In Latinx homes, there is the pressure to follow a conventional path, an economically secure path,” Molfino says. For the first-generation Latina, it looked like this: Getting the highest degree possible of education, like a Ph.D. or an MD, and reaching as high as possible in order to make money and elevate in life. “Forget about risky paths like entrepreneurship,” Molfino was told. However, she says she ultimately found her sense of purpose when she chased her dream and started her own business.
2. Feeling like we have to have babies:
In Break the Good Girl Myth, readers are introduced to one of Molfino’s clients who feels like she “should” be trying to have a baby with her husband, even though it’s not something she feels she wants at the moment. “Whenever I hear the word ‘should,’ I get a little suspicious,” Molfino says of the case. “There was so much ‘should’ in her language that it was clear she was really gripped by the Myth of Rules. This good-girl programming was really impacting every area of her life. She was choosing obligation and approval from her family, and what was done for generations, instead of what she truly wanted, and it was making her miserable.”
The author tells FIERCE that this isn’t uncommon in Latinx households, where there is a lot of focus on family, something she says, while beautiful, could force women into making decisions they aren’t ready for or that don’t align with their authentic self.
One of the reasons Latinas self-sacrifice in this way is because of our desire to belong and connect. “Think about it: if you follow the rules, you’re going to gain approval from your tribe, your family, and you’re going to get that sense of belonging. So it’s hard to break away from it, because the benefits you get from following it are so high,” Molfino notes.
3. Doing things we don’t want to do in order to make our parents proud:
If there’s one thing that ties the immigrant, or first-generation, experience in the U.S., it’s this urgency young people feel to make their parents proud given all the sacrifices that were made for them. “I’m the daughter of immigrants. I am an immigrant. And my entire life has been about being the best: be the best I can be, be the best daughter, be the best sister, be the best friend,” Molfino says. While it’s not wrong to want your parents to be proud of you, Molfino believes the pressure this puts on Latinas to be high-achievers in everything could be detrimental. “These are part of the pressures that we feel to be good instead of powerful or who we really are,” she adds.
4. Adopting self-sacrificing gender roles passed down through generations:
Growing up, our parents’ behaviors oftentimes send us louder messages than their lectures. As a child, Molfino knew that her mother gave up her law career in order to follow her husband’s career and become a mother. For Molfino, the message was clear: women make big sacrifices; men don’t. “If we saw our mothers putting families in front of their own dreams, their own goals, their own care, that’s our expectation now. We are going to feel the pressure that we need to be like that,” Molfino says. While her mother has questioned surrendering her career in her later years, Molfino wants Latinas to push back on gender roles and expectations our mothers and ancestors were forced into in order to save us from leading lives where our passions aren’t being fortified and our dreams aren’t being realized. “It’s interesting to see how something like the myth of sacrifice gets passed down through generations. We’re talking about big stuff. It’s not something that’s going to change overnight. But it’s something we can start to bring awareness to: where was my great-grandmother, my grandmother, my mother and where am I in that lineage in terms of progress,” she says.
5. The pressure to look perfect:
The historic fetishization of Latinas has made many of us believe our worth comes from our appearance, and it has created a pressure to look flawless at all times. For Molfino, this ties into the Myth of Perfection. “There’s a lot of pressure for us to feel like we have to be the perfect wife, mother, the beautiful woman. You can feel the pressure to be that perfect woman. We’re walking on a tightrope,” she notes. For those struggling with this good girl myth, she offers a simple mantra: “I am worthy simply because I exist.” Molfino urges Latinas, and women everywhere, to understand that their worth is not conditional.
If any of these cases of good girl myths look familiar to you, you’ll benefit from picking up Break the Good Girl Myth, which is available for purchase where books are sold. Departing from these disempowered rules, Molfino warns, isn’t easy and won’t occur overnight. But she wants readers to take comfort in knowing they’re not alone in this journey of unlearning and encourages them to be patient and gracious with themselves.
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