Study: Phrase 'That's So Gay' Damages Self-Esteem

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Study: Phrase 'That's So Gay' Damages Self-Esteem [EXPERT]
One expert's plea to use language more carefully.

In a study conducted at the University of Michigan, lead author Michael Woodford found that the phrase "that's so gay" negatively affected gay, lesbian and bisexual students between the ages of 18 to 25 — contributing to feelings of isolation, headaches, poor appetite and eating problems.

The most important attribute that a person can possess is a healthy, positive sense of self — a sense that one is worthwhile, lovable, valued, respected, competent, powerful and safe. When an individual feels good about himself, he is very likely to be happy, to make other people happy and to achieve success.

 

People who have a negative sense of self will be sad and angry at themselves and will unconsciously engage in self-destructive acts to punish themselves for their "badness."

There are many strands that unite to form a positive self-image. One of the most critical ones is the messages that children and adolescents are given by parents and by society. Messages can be words and or deeds. Both have long term consequences. 7 Tips To Boost Kids' Confidence Before School Starts

A week ago, a colleague of mine was visiting her four-year-old grandson. Delighted by his clever observations at what they were seeing, she said to him, "You are a wonderful boy." "No, I'm not," he said. "What do you mea?," she asked. "Daddy says he doesn't like me." Love & Discipline: 5 Tips For Fathers

In a moment of anger, his father misspoke, but it wasn't lost on the boy. It was taken in, registered, and this special, clever, beautiful little boy was questioning his worth.

Adolescents are very insecure, confused and unsure of who they are. The outside world — especially their peers — influences greatly how they regard themselves. Gay adolescents often already feel shamed, wrong, bad, abnormal and unaccepted.

Any phrase like "that's so gay," which enhances their sense of being outside what's "good" and acceptable and "right," fosters a negative self-esteem that can easily lead to long-term depression and addiction, and it can certainly be classified as emotional abuse. 10 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Spank Your Kids

Language has the power to hurt and diminish and also the power to elevate and enhance. Let us agree to use it for good. 

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Miriam Kove

Counselor/Therapist

Miriam Kove

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Location: New York, NY
Credentials: BCD, LCSW, MS, MSW
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