Stop the Sorry Reflex

Overuse of sorry negatively effects women

Faye Smith

More stories from Faye Smith


Imagine this, it is dinner at your favorite restaurant. All of your friends at the table are talking about their school day, and you instantly start talking about your favorite class. You get so excited about what you learned, and the funny things that happened, but people immediately seem uninterested. The innate response you have, is “oh, I’m sorry I didn’t mean to get excited.”

Girls today do not think twice about using the word “sorry,” essentially turning into an automatic response to situations. This not only affects women negatively, but how they are perceived.

According to Psych Central, women are taught to “uphold the value of politeness,” which leads to excessive apologies. From an outside perspective, learning to be polite and apologize when necessary is very important. But, as it does lead to constant measures to make sure apologies are being said for superficial situations, this leads to negative effects to your self-image.

The overuse of “sorry” leads to powerlessness. Women need to be seen as power-driven, but by constantly apologizing to everyone around them, it is ridiculously contradicting. By repeating the word “sorry,” apologies become insincere, according to Psych Central it “dilutes the power of the phrase to a point where it may come off as disingenuous.”

This summer Barbie, yes Barbie, released a vlog on the “sorry reflex,” bringing to the attention of her 6-12 year-old viewers the importance of recognizing the overuse of the apology as well as finding alternative ways to not deplete their power.

Barbie suggests that instead of using “sorry,” say “thank you.” If someone accidentally bumps into you, change “oh, I’m sorry,” to “oh, it’s okay.” This is a simple change that can transform the way women respond to others. Instead of minimizing our feelings, we recognize our self-worth as well as giving a much needed confidence boost.

By personally reflecting on Barbie’s message, I realized that this message is such an important step in women empowerment. Teaching girls at a young age the importance of their confidence and power, as well as teens and older women to reflect on their own personalities, can change the way we act as whole. This can positively change the way we as teenage girls speak to our teachers, coaches, friends and other classmates.

By changing one simple word in our language, our pride and self-esteem as a whole will drastically improve. Our choices to transform women today will be reflected onto the future generations, to where as mothers and grandmothers, we will not have to worry about the significance of the word “sorry.”

No matter the situation, people, especially women, need to value “sorry” in their everyday language. As a woman in society, I am calling for an end to the sorry reflex.