Reviving Ophelia with Bookflag and Lipcard

ISBN: 0345395034
ISBN 13: 9780345395030
By: Mary Pipher

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Reader's Thoughts

Katherine

Approximately 1/3 of the way into this book, I nearly quit. It was highly repetitive; I felt like a lengthy magazine article could have covered the same material. As I got further into the problem-specific chapters, though, I began thinking more and more about my own experiences. I was 13 when this book was first published. I am very much a product of the culture Pipher was addressing. Her insights on family relationships in particular got me thinking. I found some of her cultural observations less interesting, more melodramatic. Overall, though, Pipher wrote an interesting book dotted with useful bits of advice without sounding like a self-help book or being overly preachy. I particularly appreciated her objective stance on adolescent drug and alcohol use--that not all of it is problematic or to be pathologized.

Victoria McVay

I had to read this for a class I took recently, it was… alright. There are some great points and lessons in this book, however, the author makes incredibly broad and exaggerated statements about girls going through puberty, almost as though this book should be taken as doctrine. I definitely do not agree that everything she speaks of, introduces you to, etc, is the "norm," nor do I think girls who escape the repercussions of our "girl hating America" are typically wealthy, in loving stable homes, or smart enough to block out all of the evil cultural pressures we've had shoved down our throats over the years. It has a strong sense of feminism, the author even says things early on such as, "Where are the women in the history books?" and she talks about how girls grow up seeing men in powerful positions, and thus automatically yet possibly unconsciously believe they are powerless in a man's world. Pah-leez! Really? For one, women are in history books, for two, there are more men because in those time periods, women were at home raising families, not waging war and writing the Constitution. Smh… the world is not out to get us. Aside from that, I do think its a good book for parents and their daughters while going through puberty, perhaps they'll be able to learn from others' mistakes so they don't have to experience those particular hardships themselves.

Kathleen

This book deals with the lives of young girls and their struggle with eating disorders. I read this when this was an issue in my own family, and I found it to be a great resource.

Marc

Overall, a pretty scary summation of the pressures affecting our growing daughters (especially for a father!). Though a bit dated, I'm sure many of the trends have only gotten worse since the 1990s. As a parent of a bright child, (and someone trying to familiarize myself with pressures and upcoming challenges), I hope we'll be able to mediate some of these!My only real critique is her constant comparison to boys and how they're raised. Pipher seems to be saying that only girls can have complicated feelings and face tension/mixed messages from cultural values. I think all people (boys and girls) face these challenges, just in different ways. That's the problem with artificial social constructs of values. She does mention that her work is done with girls so she doesn't talk about boys' experiences--but then I wish she would have just left it at that instead of using boys' roles/expectations as some sort of standard to measure the girls' experiences against.

Jaclyn

This book has opened my eyes to the complications of adolesence that my daughter is just on the cusp of. Although the book is 10 years old, and I am significantly younger than the author, I found the topics to be very relevant even today. I personally relate better to the author, who was a child in the 50's, and feel that the problems girls were beginning to face in the 90's are worse than I faced in the 80's and are still very much a probem today, probably more so. Reading about all of the challenges my daughter is about to face in this new stage of her life was vey helpful and opened my eyes to things I would not quite have understood if I hadn't read this book. I related to the author's admitted naivety until college (for me it was late high school), and recognized many of the problems the girls faced in the book as problems still rampant today. It actually saddened me that 10 years later we have made so little progress toward protecting our young girls and educating our young boys. This book spurred many conversations between my daughter and I, by helping me see the questions I should be asking, the red flags I should be looking for, and brought me to a more understanding and open minded approach in these regards. Hopefully, having these conversations at an early age, and frequently going forward, will help ease the painful transition through adolesence for my daughter and I, and protect her from some of the bigger problems many girls now face due to lack of education and a constant feeling of misunderstanding.

Elyssa Anne

Some parts of this book were OK. Some of it offended me and angered me. As I read, I made notes on statements that irked me. Such statements included the author basically saying that every teen will go insane with their sexual desires and be torn apart by them in adolescence. Another time she used the term "psychopath" to make reference to violent, 'crazy' people (which is sad as she is a mental health professional) in session with a client.Most of the statements in this book made me feel less like a teenaged human being and more like a predictable, mechanical object that is programmed to do things a specific way in unison with every other person my age. I was hurt by some of the author's assumptions and vague criticisms of the behaviors of teens. Yes, many behaviors are wrong and need correcting, but you can't assume that every teen is totally destroyed in the head based on an experimental pool of about 25 therapy clients. Would not read again if the chance came up.

alysa

I HATED this book. Is there NO hope for our girls? I found this book to be very negative about the future of girls trying to grow up in this world. Although the book is outdated I did not find a whole lot that related to the average American girl. The author generalizes about girls as a whole based upon her patients that are in therapy. This is not to say that girls are not going to have issues, but I don't think the majority of girls are going to have the depth of issues of the girls in this book. I found the book very repetitive and stated the problem over and over and offered no advice on to how to help girls in the turmoil of adolescents. Don't waste your time!

Natalie

I thought this book was really really interesting. It is about the negative effects our culture has on teenage girls (too much emphasis on beauty, too much encouragement to be passive in order to please others, etc.). One of my favorite points she made is that our society spends tons of time and money educating women on self-defense, but wouldn't it make much more sense to educate young men on how to be respectful and non-violent towards women? I do have some reservations about the book, though:1) The author is a bit of a man-hater. Sometimes I think she blames all the world's problems on men.2) She uses case studies to make her points. In her case studies, the women who stay at home with their kids and take on traditional female roles are all weak/don't have a clue who they are/depressed. The women who completely abandon the traditional roles, however, are her strong examples of women who have overcome our poisonous society and saved their "selves." I think she is pretty biased in her writing on these points.Those things aside, I enjoyed this book and think it had some pretty good/valid points.

Julia

I've been meaning to read this for ages, since it's the book that directed the media's attention to the troubles faced by adolescent girls. Since it was written two decades ago, it's definitely dated. Some of Pipher's concerns might even seem laughable to girls and young women today - I snickered a bit at the "crack is being sold in our suburbs!" bit, especially considering drugs like meth are today far more of a concern in Pipher's midwestern community. Despite this, the book has aged pretty well. The feminist concern that young women lose themselves in order to please others is still a major social issue, although I think there are some encouraging signs of progress. Pipher's argument that women are overemphasizing decisions to dress sexily as "feminist," rather than examining the social pressures that lie beneath this desire to be desirable, is even more necessary today. Pipher writes clearly and compassionately about a range of young women, including her troubled clients and several successful and happy young women she interviewed. Anyone interested in the intersection of feminism and psychology should read Reviving Ophelia because of its influence and insight.

Suzanne Evans

My mom gave me this book when I was like 12 or 13... this was only the beginning of the self help slurry of books, clippings, etc that my mom would throw my way. As an adolescent girl (who this book is geared towards) I hid the book under my bed and read other bull shit things like the other books you will see on my list (read in the early to mid 90s). Thinking I knew what was best for me, as girls do at that age, I continued to resist my mother's consistent pushing me to read this book. She eventually gave up, an I found the book something like 10 years later and figured why not, I am already an adult, lets see how off I was in growing up. WOW... I feel like if I just listened to my mother at 13 I could have avoided A LOT of the most annoying parts of growing up.

Lisa

Every parent ought to read this book to understand how to help their daughters cope with adolescence and the challenges they will face. There are a number of "worst case scenarios" sprinkled throughout the book that put fear in me as a mother. I made good choices growing up, despite being raised by some very hands-off parents; I am fearful that my daughter's world, which is so much different from my own at her age, might put in front of her too many obstacles, not all of which she might overcome. From a purely knowledge-gain perspective, this was a good read. Getting into the nitty-gritty of girls' developmental stages, and how it is impacted by society's perceptions of girls, was enlightening. I am all too aware that images of "perfect" bodies makes most women self-critical of their own. The concept of control/acceptance as a family dynamic was helpful and thought-proving. I will definitely keep this book on my shelf for when my daughter is in the midst of adolescence to help her (and myself) guide her through the trenches.Thank you, Mary Pipher, for the work you've done with girls and women.

Melinda

This book is highly recommended in "How to Talk to your Child about Sex" by the Eyre's, which I have read and reviewed ( http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/... ), so I have queued it up for reading. *************************************This book is a good companion book to read with "Packaging Girlhood", see http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/... for my goodreads review."Packaging Girlhood" shows you what goes on behind the media and marketing that pushes girls (from toddler to college age) unwittingly towards stereotypical diva / boy crazy / shopper personnas. "Reviving Ophelia" puts real faces on the girls who have been objectified and demeaned into these stereotypes, and who live with the pain and horror that it can involve. The author provides case study after case study from her own patients who have dealt with issues ranging from eating disorders to rape. It is again not a happy book to read, but I feel a very worthwhile book to read. Girls are growing up in an increasingly toxic environment. The pressures of perfect body image and "fitting in" socially turn fairly well adjusted elementary school girls into depressed and withdrawn middle schoolers and then bitter suicidal high schoolers. Just as girls are going through puberty and significant body changes, the schools become torture chambers of taunting and humiliation. Mary Pipher provides an interesting "this is the way it was" snapshot of life when she was growing up and contrasts it very effectively with the life of girls she counsels now. It isn't the way it used to be, and it is getting worse. To provide solid evidence of what she discusses, the author provides case studies from her practice as well as interviews with various girls who did not need counseling. She deals extensively with body image and how young girls, without the maturity or support to know what to do, turn to bulimia (binge / purge eating), anorexia (extreme weight loss through dieting and/ or excessive physical activity), drugs, or alcohol for solutions.Interestingly enough, some of the solutions the author has to help young girls through their growing up years include:1) Parents, DON'T DIVORCE, stay married if you can because an intact family is better for children of all ages. In the chapter on divorce, the author says that in the beginning of her practice in the 1970's she believed that children were better off with a happy single parent rather than unhappy married parents. However after 20 years of practice as a therapist, she has changed her mind. She realized that in many families the children may not notice if their parents are unhappy or happy. Yet a divorce shatters children, and very often does not make parents any happier and frequently makes women poorer and children more vulnerable.2) Be present and part of your daughter's life. Parents need to be parents and not abdicate decision making to their daughter. One interview the author had with a well adjusted teen girl showed that the mother was not working outside the home, but was present and engaged in all aspects of her daughter's life. 3) Establish structure in your home, establish rules and limits, follow through with consequences when rules are broken. Girls make wiser decisions and are more stable when their home life has these elements in them. Learn when to be flexible and when to stand firm. Too much firmness is actually better for the girls than too much leniency. One case study the author references was a situation where parents chose to let their daughter decide very early on what she wanted to do without much interference or guidance from them. They wanted her to be free to make decisions. What they did not realize was that being overly permissive did not help their daughter make GOOD decisions. She needed more guidance and firmer boundaries. In trying to teach her to be free and independent, they had actually contributed to her being overwhelmed and depressed. She needed for them to be the responsible adults and guide her, so she could grow up into a responsible adult.The 2001 edition of the book I read had a reader's guide at the end with some good questions to think about and answer. There was also an interview with Mary Pipher 10 years after the book had been published. One question in the interview that I thought was particularly good was "If you could offer one or two pieces of advice to girls, their parents and teachers, what are the best things they can do to weather the storm of adolescence?" Mary Pipher's answer is revealing and I quote it completely. She answers, "First of all, be very intentional about media. Don't watch a lot of TV, be cautious about the kind of music and movies you consume, read good books as opposed to teen magazines. Be careful about your intellectual diet. If you have an intellectual diet of junk food, you have a brain full of junk. I would advise people that this is a serious life decision -- deciding what to consume, in terms of information and culture.Another thing that's very important is that teenagers not be isolated from other age groups. The biggest and best change we could make in America overnight would be to have a whole bunch of seventy-year-olds rehearsing with middle school bands, helping kids learn to read, teaching children how to garden and fish, and so on. Likewise, it's important for teenagers to be involved with little kids, and with people in their twenties, who can look back on when they were that age and offer them some decent advice on how to make choices. I really argue for a lot more mixing of the generations than we have now.Finally, I think it's really important for parents to insist that their kids be plugged into family. Adolescents should go to family reunions, eat at family meals, and have regular contact with grandparents and cousins and extended family members. Parents shouldn't let kids make all of their own choices about how they spend their time. Essentially, kids are told three thousand times a day by advertisements to spend their time shopping and consuming. Unless parents teach kids that there are other ways to spend their time, how will children even know that they have other interests?"In reading these suggestions, I was happy to see that families who homeschool are taking her advice to heart. Homeschoolers I know evaluate TV, music, and movies that come into their homes and strive to teach discernment over blind consumption. They as a rule read more books, and place a high value on a vigorous intellectual diet. Homeschoolers I know also mix multiple generations together. Seventy-year-olds ARE teaching middle schoolers. Teens ARE around little kids. Homeschoolers I know ARE teaching their kids other ways to spend their time and learning other interests.So while the overall book is very sober, I think there is great reason to be encouraged. Mary Pipher insists that the only way to change the toxic culture young girls are facing is to change the culture. I think homeschooling parents are hearing what she has said, and are responding.

Jessica

This is a biased and thoughtless review, based on vague memories of a cranky adolescent's insensitive snap judgment, so you shouldn't pay any attention to it. It's definitely more of a statement about me than it is about the book, which I don't really remember anyway.I read this in the mid-nineties when it came out, and I remember feeling, as a teenage girl, annoyed and offended. I felt at the time that it was making too much of girls' helplessness and sort of encouraging us to feel sorry for ourselves and to wallow in a sense of victimization, blaming our parents and "the media" for everything. Honestly, though, I'm sure this is a gross mischaracterization of everything in this book, which I honestly don't remember one bit. Raising girls -- raising anyone! -- not to be all screwed-up around here -- around anywhere! -- is hard work, and parents deserve all the help they can get. At the same time, I do have some basic belief that adolescence is supposed to be kind of miserable: that's called "growing up," and it hurts. I mean, obviously girls shouldn't be cutting themselves or trying to commite suicide, but adolescents feeling bad a lot of the time seems normal to me. I engaged in a lot of behavior as a teenager that on paper sounds pretty pathological or at least disturbing, and I'm not saying that's ideal or that I want my kids doing all of it, but I did make it out the other end, you know? As did a lot of other girls I know who had much more extreme problems. Now we're grownups, and we've got the stories.Again, I don't remember what this book said, but I do remember my basic reaction. I felt like someone was characterizing me as being way more screwed-up than I felt I was, and I was annoyed by some of the case examples, especially where they reminded me of troubled friends of mine who, I felt, were not well-served by a therapeutic culture that I saw at the time as potentially iatrogenic (though I hadn't learned that fancy word yet!).It might be interesting to revisit Ophelia now, since I always have infinitely more sympathy for groups of which I am not a member. If this book enlightened parents about issues relevant to raising girls in a materialistic and misogynistic culture, then the more sensitive, kinder adult me is all for it. I do not envy the parents today, as I think popular culture has gotten exponentially more threatening to girls' developing a healthy sense of self.Of course, if I were fifteen today I'd probably say that was crap. I would sneer at any suggestion that Paris Hilton or reality plastic surgery shows had any effect whatsoever on my development, and then I'd run off to drink beer in a bush with my similarly indignant peers.

Jessica

I read this book when it first came out in 1994, when I was 13. I had just been busted by my parents for stealing prescription drugs from their medicine cabinet (I think the plan was to kill myself...hazy), and this book appeared on my mother's nightstand soon after. I remember approaching the book like an army general who has gotten his hands on the enemy's battle plans, only interested in it as far as it could reveal to me what plan the adults were hatching this time so I could fortify my defenses and plan a counterstrike. The book also appealed to me because there was a thin, attractive white girl of about my age on the cover who, I assumed, wanted to commit suicide like Ophelia in a pool full of flowers. This encapsulated my two main desires at 13: To be thin and attractive, and to commit suicide. I failed at both.Alas, "Reviving Ophelia" didn't quite keep my attention at 13. If it had, I think it would have helped me understand that the intense pain I was suffering was not just my own hell but a part of a nationwide epidemic. I don't know if this would have helped me, but it might have. Instead, all I remember thinking was that Pipher, like many adults, seemed disproportionately concerned by body-piercings. Revisiting the book now, 16 years and a few million miles later, I still don't think nose rings are as big of a deal as Pipher makes out. I am struck, however, by her prescience at identifying a trend which no one else up to that point had made much of: Girls in the early 1990s were literally losing themselves. Young girls have always had a rough time of it in American society, but suddenly the troubles hit the white middle class like a tidal wave. At 13, I didn't have the maturity to connect Pipher's thesis with what I indeed experienced regularly: Friends in the last phases of anorexia having heart attacks in the shower, almost everyone else an anorexic wanna-be, relationship abuse, drug abuse, suicides, crippling depression and self-hatred. Now, as an adult, I can appreciate Pipher's commitment to showing the world that these were not isolated problems, problems that happened only to girls from fucked-up families, or just weird girls. This was a catastrophe that struck almost every girl I knew growing up. It has still not been fully examined, although many of the problems that blighted my generation are starting to wane (and new ones are rising - try buying your female toddler something that does not resemble a porn star costume at Target). While I think that Pipher oversimplifies too much, and that she is ill-equipped to make sense of many of the cultural changes of the early 1990s, her thesis generally stands today: Our culture poisons adolescent girls, transforming them from children to sex objects, from active participants in their own lives to passive spectators. And most bizarrely, these problems are distinctly post-women's liberation/post-feminism. I don't think it's entirely ridiculous to wonder if the daughters of the women who won liberation in the 1960s paid for their mother's gains via some sort of cultural backlash.

Jonna

I maybe could give this book five stars. I read it my freshman year of college and then again last month and it was interesting how my perspective has changed. I still agree with the author's basic premise, though, that society is very damaging to young girls and women in general. She talks a lot about the effects of the media, peer pressure, goes into eating disorders, violence against women, etc. I would recommend it to anyone with daughters.

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