Thursday, September 6, 2007

A Moment of Silence for Girls, Please

And then, let's get busy. Holy crap! Girls need our help. It's true, yesterday, I was mocking the screeching of middle school girls, but today, I'd take it all back if I could because I just read this wire story:

The suicide rate among preteen and young teen girls spiked 76 percent, a disturbing sign that federal health officials say they can't fully explain.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, "For all young people between ages 10 to 24, the suicide rate rose 8 percent from 2003 to 2004--the biggest single-year bump in 15 years--in what one official called 'a dramatic and huge increase'."

Girls are striving to be perfect in a more zealous way than ever before because that's what they feel they MUST do to survive. It's what everyone expects from them. From perfect skin, hair, clothes, grades, bodies, participation in extracurricular activities, and behavior, girls feel more and more as if there is no room to be themselves. For many, they don't know what that means.

This report is scary. True, this is 2004 data, but given everything we're reading and studying here at Seal, I'd bet that this is not a blip in data as one child psychiatrist claims is possible. I'd bet this is a trend. We need to get out the message to girls that nothing is gained from making pleasing others a priority. Perfection is not possible. We're desperate to spread this word, and clearly, this report is proof that girls are more than desperate to hear it.

See today's wire story here:

And so I ask you, what are you doing? What can we do? We're looking for more great books targeted to teen girls and their parents. There are a few great books out there now. Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters by Courtney E. Martin deals with the frightening normalcy of girls hating their bodies. Reclaiming Our Daughters by Karen Stabiner and Real Girl, Real World by Samantha Phillips and Heather Gray take big positive steps forward. We need more. Girls need us.

Here's what Girls Inc. is doing. Check out what these girls have to say:

The Pressure to be Perfect, Accomplished, Thin, and Accommodating

Building on the Girls Inc. Taking the Lead study published in 2000, The Supergirl Dilemma is a nationwide survey, commissioned by Girls Inc. and conducted by Harris Interactive, that provides important insights into girls' lives today. Girls spoke out about the mounting expectations they face from family, peers, and educators as they struggle to decode confusing messages from the media and reject traditional gender stereotypes.

Girls Inc. believes that girls can do anything, but our new study indicates that girls feel pressure to do everything and please everyone.

I leave you with this thought. If screeching is part of community building for some girls, if it's an energizing call to sisterhood, screech away. We can all take it.

Until next time.


No comments: