The Curse of the Good Girl: Raising Authentic Girls with Courage and Confidence

The Curse of the Good Girl: Raising Authentic Girls with Courage and Confidence

by Rachel Simmons
     
 

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Rachel Simmons argues that in idealizing the "Good Girl"-unerringly nice, polite, modest, and selfless-we teach girls to embrace a version of selfhood that curtails their power and potential.

Drawing on the exercises Simmons herself uses in her work with girls, parents, and educators, The Curse of the Good Girl provides a catalog of practical strategies to foster

Overview

Rachel Simmons argues that in idealizing the "Good Girl"-unerringly nice, polite, modest, and selfless-we teach girls to embrace a version of selfhood that curtails their power and potential.

Drawing on the exercises Simmons herself uses in her work with girls, parents, and educators, The Curse of the Good Girl provides a catalog of practical strategies to foster girls' assertiveness, resilience, and integrity. At the core of Simmons's radical argument is her belief that the most critical freedom we can win for our daughters is the liberty not only to listen to their inner voice but also to act on it.

Editorial Reviews

We all know the Good Girl: She's the perfect daughter; unfailingly polite, punctual, and friendly. While her sisters and brothers are cutting up or breaking curfew, she's dutifully completing extra credit assignments or cleaning up the garage. She's her mother's pride and her father's boast; but according to Rachel Simmons, she's probably seething inside. Resented by her peers, prone to excessive self-criticism, the Good Girl finally leaves home without the inner ballast that only comes from realizing that perfection is really unachievable. Simmons doesn't think, however, that the situation is hopeless. In The Curse of the Good Girl, she delineates lessons that can help reverse decades of self-denial and thwarted self-expression.
Publishers Weekly

In this volume for parents of middle-school daughters, the author of Odd Girl Out observes that girls today still pressure themselves to conform to the old, narrow paradigm of a nice, people-pleasing, rule-following, even-tempered, socially acceptable good girl, shunning the image of a rebellious, proud, socially outré, in-charge, outspoken bad girl. To dispel the curse of the good girl, and despite using those familiar, easily misconstrued labels as a touchstone, Girls Leadership Institute founder Simmons offers instructive tales out of school and workshops, revealing that flawed communication rituals and fear of confrontation contribute equally to a girl's belief that it is more important to be liked than to be an individual. In order to become a successful, well-adjusted "real girl," she needs to know how to say no to peers, ask for what she needs and express what she thinks. In the second half of this book, parents will find concrete strategies and tools-confidence-building exercises that emphasize emotional intelligence, self-evaluations, q&a's, scripts and lots of first-person stories-to help guide a girl's growth into a young woman who can respect and listen to her inner voice, say what she feels and thinks, embrace her limits and present an authentic self to the world. (Aug.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Newsweek.com
As Simmons describes it, it's a "yes, but" mentality: yes, be a go-getter, but be nice all the time. Yes, accomplish, but don't brag about it. "It is a constant qualification-two steps forward, one step back," she says. "And just as an anorexic might say, 'I shouldn't eat this, it will make me fat,' girls are saying to themselves, 'I shouldn't say this, it will make me a bitch, a drama queen, an outcast.' "

Nowhere is that qualification clearer than in the words of a bunch of middle-school girls, whom Simmons surveyed. Asked to write down how society expects a "good girl" to behave, their responses ranged from "perfect" and "kind," "intelligent" with "tons of friends" to "no opinions on things" and "doesn't get mad." A bad girl, on the other hand, was described as a "proud" "rule breaker" who "speaks her mind" and likes being the "center of attention." Or, to put it simply, all of the things that make somebody a good leader.

How do we reconcile those two extremes? Perhaps by shifting some of the blame onto ourselves. Time and again, studies that girls face pressures that are unique. We feel burdened to please everyone (as reported by 74 percent of girls in a 2006 Girls Inc. study) but worry that leadership positions will make us seem "bossy," (according to a recent Girl Scouts report.) Yet we've been mulling about the loss of girls' self-esteem since the '90s, when Mary Pipher's Reviving Ophelia became standard reading for every mother.

It seems that while the doors of opportunity have finally opened, we're still having trouble walking through them. "We've created what I call a 'psychological glass ceiling'," says Simmons. "But on some level, we need to say toourselves, 'Yes, I have the same piece of paper from the same university, but why aren't I walking through the law firm door?'" We've come along way, ladies. But we've still got a lot further to go.
—Jessica Bennett

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780143117988
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
08/31/2010
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
237,681
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Rachel Simmons is the author of The New York Times bestseller Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggressionin Girls, the first book to explore the phenomenon of bullying among girls. Simmons works internationally with girls,parents, and teachers to develop strategies to address bullying and to empower girls. A graduate of Vassar College in1998, Simmons won a Rhodes scholarship and attended Oxford University, where she began studying female aggression.Simmons is the founding director of the Girls’ Leadership Institute, a summer program for middle and high schoolgirls, and currently serves as a consultant to schools and organizations around the world.

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