Adolescent Girls - Book

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In the book Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls, author Mary Pipher portrays the transitions faced by adolescent girls through the use of case studies. Pipher clearly highlights the struggles young girls face as they progress from early childhood into adolescence. Pipher points to the cultural pressures of present day society, as the leading culprit in circumventing successful adulthood transitions; and the splitting of adolescent girls into true and false selves. Many young girls lack the social, cognitive, and emotional ability to understand or navigate through this period. Consequently they lose contact with their true self, which results in an acceptance of the false self; and the subsequent absorption into a culture which has created them.

In chapter two, Theoretical Issues-For Your Own Good, Pipher introduces Cayenne, who prior to adolescence is ambitious, competitive, focused, and empathetic. At twelve, Cayenne enters puberty, and must deal with the biological changes in her body along with transitioning into junior high school, a larger school environment; which also brings the cultural pressures of peer groups, movies, music, television and magazines to name a few. In Junior High school the emphasis is on being popular “fitting in” no one wants to stand out as different. This is likely where the first sign of splitting of selves begins. Pipher remarks, “I see the culture as splitting adolescent girls into true and false selves’. (37) Many girls reject the true self that has been nurtured by their parents thus far, succumbing to peer pressure and embracing the false self. To reject the false self and retain the true self would cause risk of exposure to rejection by their peers.

Pipher discusses the emotional selves of adolescent girls in chapter three, Developmental Issues--”I’m Not Waving, I’m Drowning. The behavior of girls often appears illogical and irrational, because they are unable to balance their...
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