Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls

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Reviving Ophelia: Saving the selves of adolescent girls

Introduction

“I encourage girls to search within themselves for their deepest values and beliefs. Once they have discovered their own true selves, I encourage them to trust that self as the source of meaning and direction in their lives” Mary Pipher, Ph.D.

Clinical psychologist Mary Pipher has brought widespread attention to the loss of true-self, experienced by adolescent girls in her critically acclaimed book, Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls. (Whitaker, 2006). In her book, Pihper addresses the development issues of adolescent girls, the culture they live in and how their needs are and are not being met. She explains that our failure as a society, is not giving our children good, sound advice on how to become a decent, functioning adults and our unwillingness to do so, is destroying our culture (Pihper, 2002). She also offers insightful advice as to how, we as a society can encourage our adolescent girls to remain true to their authentic selves.

Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls

More than anything, I want to save my children from the pain and self-imposed isolation I experienced during adolescence. As a parent, I want to shelter my children, make all of the hard decisions for them and protect them from any harm that comes their way. As a realist, I understand that the experiences of adolescences are necessary to build character, strength and integrity. As a dreamer, I want my children to magically transcend into adulthood, unscathed from the trauma of their teens years. As a future psychologist, I agree that our children are growing up in a poisonous culture and without intervention; we will all suffer (Pipher, 1994). When I looked up this book and noticed its publication date (1994), my first thought was, “How relevant can this book be, it’s almost 20 years old?” The issues adolescents faced in the early 1990’s are not the same issues that my children are dealing with in 2013. American cultural has changed significantly in the last 20 years. Society as a whole, has become more aware, more understanding and more proactive; we’re willing to acknowledge the faults of past ideology and we’re eager enact positive change. We’re involved; we’re conscientious and we’re dedicated the betterment of society. Yet with all of our good intentions, our adolescent girls are drowning in vast sea of negativity and losing their true authentic selves, to an over sexed, hypercritical, media crazed culture. The most important message it took from Mary Pipher’s book, Reviving Ophelia, is how damaging and belittling our culture is to the development of adolescent girls. We are living the “information age” and there is very little parents can do to shield or protect their children from the harmful influences of the media. The internet and social media has taken over society and negatively impacted our culture in numerous ways. Children are exposed to sexual, violent content so often and from such an early age that they’ve become indifferent to it. Even the movies, music and television programs that are specifically geared towards adolescents, often advocates under-age drinking, drug use, defiant behavior and overt sexuality. As a result, our children are growing-up too fast. My twelve year old daughter is dealing with issues that were once considered to be taboo even for adults, such as sexting and posting naked picture online. Parents and the media often contradict one another, which further confuses adolescents (Pipher, 2002). Parents are trying to establish healthy boundaries and instill moral values, such as kindness, respect, consideration and modesty. Their goal is to produce happy, well adjusted, morally sound adults. The media, on the other hand, purely wants to make money by pushing products and opinions (Pipher, 2002). All facets of the media push, sell, and glorify sexuality over newsworthy content. These...
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