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Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls (Ballantine Reader's Circle)

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Book Overview

This description may be from another edition of this product. At adolescence, says Mary Pipher, "girls become 'female impersonators' who fit their whole selves into small, crowded spaces." Many lose spark, interest, and even IQ points as a "girl-poisoning"...

Customer Reviews

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i was ophelia

despite being a bright girl who read extensively, when i was in middle school i felt dead inside like would never be happy again. i wanted to know what was wrong with me but there was no name for what i was feeling. i felt misrable, i felt ugly, i felt unworthy of anyone's attention, i felt crazy and out of control. thankfully i could write it out. i showed some of my work to my english teacher (whose is male by the way) and he told me to read this book. finally it all made sense, me and my friends and everyone around me (church, parents, school ETC.) was buying into the feminie myth which was only perpetuated byt the intense media with junk values. i started wotking on myself slowly. everday i would focus on a piece of me and try to accept that piece of myself. EX: one day i would focus on accepting my hair, then the next day i would focus on my eyes, then my ears, and so on. as i began to accept the outside I grew and could accept the inside. i went from a weak girl who was eager to please and trying to be perfect to a secure young woman who could express myself in "un lady like" ways. basically i gave larger society the finger and found myself. I WAS OPHELIA! i see them everday in school even though i'm a sophmore now. This book is truth plain and simple. It should be required reading for all adolescent girls.

Reviewing Ophelia

In Reviving Ophelia, Dr. Mary Pipher (1994), clinical psychologist, presents problems faced by American adolescent females in the 1990's. Rather than blaming the malfunctions of adolescents on the institution of the family, Pipher suggests that these problems are manifestations of growing up in a culture that sends mixed messages to its children. Pipher presents a variety of case examples which include substance addictions, abuse, divorce, and peer pressure; however, the basis of her ideas infer that the most prominent issue adolescent girls must confront is the competition between the authentic self and the self which she feels impelled to generate in order to fit into what the Western culture anticipates. Pipher's observations suggest that it is difficult for an adolescent girl to be true to herself while, at the same time, feminizing herself to fit into larger cultural expectations. While this rejection of the self and false feminization is a problem for these young women, they are often unable, or even unwilling, to identify it as a source for their troubles. According to Pipher (1994, p. 41), most adolescent girls will state that they are not feminists if they are directly asked. Pipher concludes that, to these young women, "feminism" is a negative term-a term that may be compared to "communism" or "fascism" in their minds. However, if these same young women are asked whether or not they believe that women should have equal rights to men, they will inevitably concede that they certainly should. Pipher continues her explanation by pointing out that sexual harassment and sexual biases occur in educational facilities. The same young women who agree that women and men should have equal rights do not take note of these fallacies. Unfortunately, adolescent girls do not see this problem because they have become socialized to it. These wrongdoings are an every-day occurrence in their lives. Though Pipher (1994, pp. 74-100) indicates that the culture is the most problematic cause of malfunctions in the adolescent female population, she does note the importance of the family as well. For example, she mentions the double standard of parenting prominent in Western civilization. Pipher discusses the comparison of how a teenage girl's relationship with her father and with her mother is viewed by society. An adolescent girl's relationship with her father is viewed as productive and growth-oriented, while a relationship with her mother is viewed as barren and growth-stunting. Fathers are commended for their involvement with their children while mothers are admonished for being overprotective. In all reality, an adolescent girl needs a close relationship with one or both of her parents. This stage of development may be one of the most awkward and difficult stages to conquer. Pipher (1994, p. 80) is careful to note that the "traditional family" is not in existence. In fact, family types are as diverse as Western civilization itself. It is important to identif


As a recent survivor of adolescence, I know firsthand how important Reviving Ophelia really is. This book shares a host of stories about girls undergoing a variety of crises--and while some seem a bit extreme, all the issues dealt with (eating disorders, peer pressure, self-inflicted harm, etc.) are becomingly frighteningly common.I think this is a great book to be read by parents and daughters alike. When I read it, I felt a little bit less "alone" in a sense, knowing that almost all girls face rough times in adolesence. And while I had it much easier than most girls in the stories, some of the techniques the author tried with her patients were pretty helpful for me. When my mom read it, it helped her to more fully understand what the middle school situation was like, and helped her deal with some of my troubles. It certainly surprised her that middle school is so different now than it was in her day! We both learned quite a bit in the reading.I recommend this book without reservation, and I'm glad that there is finally a highly regarded, truthful portrait of the dangers girls must face in growing up.

It's all about your perspective

I've read a lot of reviews here by teenage girls who totally panned this book because they couldn't relate to the girls in the case studies or to Mary Pipher's observations about adolescent girls in general. I think it's great that there are so many teenage girls out there who feel so confident about themselves! But I would recommend you coming back to "Ophelia" several years down the road, once you are well out of your teenage years. Hindsight is 20/20, as they say, and you may find that you recognize more of these girls than you initally thought. When I was in high school, I would have described myself as basically happy, with pretty normal friends. Now that I'm 25, I can see how unhappy and insecure I really was. And while you don't recongnize any of these problems in your friends, watch out! I guarantee that there are things you don't know about your friends. Years later I learned how many of my friends had eating disorders, depression, bad self esteem, and these were not girls you would have thought ever had problems like that. One of my friends told me years later how she used to cry uncontrollably every morning because she was so depressed, but she always showed up to school looking happy every day. And she's definitely right on target with her eating disorder observations; almost every female friend of mine has some degree of eating disorder or distorted body image, and I am not exaggerating at all! (Of course, part of that could be the New York City 20something culture where thinness reigns supreme). Obviously I loved this book and have read and reread parts of it over and over.

Sadly, very insightful

I read this book two years ago, but I feel I can still add to this debate. I encourage the teenage girls who read this book and were offended by the not-so-pretty picture it paints to go back in a few years and read it again. When I was 15 and 16, I also had no doubt that I was absolutely in control of my life. I could not see the larger forces at work, influencing the way I interacted with my friends, my parents, my boyfriend and the unrealistic demands I placed on myself. When you drive yourself to be perfect, you set yourself up to fall. By the time I read Reviving Ophelia my junior year in college, I was coping with anorexia, depression, obsessive-compulsive behaviors and sexual promiscuity. Ophelia showed me how my experiences in junior high and high school had left scars on my soul that manifested themselves when I was 21. I dealt with it. Girls, examine your lives and your motives. Learn from your past. Love yourself. And to those who bemoan Pipher's lack of neat little answers: Life is not a 30-minute sitcom. There are no hard and fast answers to problems as complex as these. Awareness is the first step, and that's what Pipher was trying to do in this book, not solve a centuries-old problem in a few pages. And if you think this book was repetitious, then you weren't paying attention.
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