Mary Pipher, author of the book Reviving Ophelia, has made many observations concerning young adolescent girls in our society. She wrote this book in 1994, roughly eleven years ago. Although some of her observations made in the past are not still accurate in today’s world, there are many that are still present in 2005. The primary focus of Pipher’s comments is to explain how young girls are no longer being protected within our society. This female inferiority idea has been imbedded in the world for many years. Fairy tales are a very good example of how this notion has been present in the United States.
The themes that exist in these stories normally deal with masculine heroes who come to the aid of young women who are seemingly helpless. After they are saved by these male heroes they become obedient docile beings. These old fairy tales are part of the beginning of this inferiority idea. Another example of this actually was the inspiration for Mary Pipher’s book title. In William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Ophelia was a young girl who was dominated and destroyed by the men in her life. She was treated poorly by her boyfriend, Hamlet.
He was cruel to her, calling her names and completely ignoring her. Two other men in her life, King Claudius, and her father Polonius treated her as if she was a puppet. The two used her to trick Hamlet so they could find out what Hamlet’s problem was. Throughout the entire story she has no purpose other than for the approval of these three males. These efforts to please these three men cause her to go crazy with grief. Eventually, she drowns herself in a pond. One thing that Pipher describes is how girls’ views change as they enter adolescence.
Lots of girls bury their childhood, and submissively enter adult existence. These girls who are becoming young women, according to Pipher, stop thinking. The main focus on their minds is, “What must I do to please others? ” This thought is true to a certain extent in some young girls. It is true that many of the things that some girls do are solely for the purpose of living up to a societal expectation. Many of the beauty magazines portray images of supermodels; something that young girls may interpret as what the society expects.
Also, all of the television and movie actors are very pretty, and many young girls are dying to fill out that expectation that seems to have been set for them. Although it seems clear that not everyone has “movie star good looks”, this idea can be hard for a young immature mind to grasp. Something that Mary Pipher has brought up in the first chapter of her book was how society is causing young women to suffer many different problems. One of the most common and worst problems that arise is eating disorders. The media may be the culprit for this issue.
Girls who are striving to be thin, and fit the mold of a star may never reach their goal, under natural conditions. As a result of their shortcomings various eating disorders stand to be the only solution. One thing that Mary Pipher seems to be saying is that being a girl is like a jail sentence. “Once you hit fifteen you die,” she quotes in her book. Although this is clearly hyperbole, it can be said that once a kid turns fifteen they become “a sapling in the storm”. This is true not only of girls, but of boys as well.
At the age students enter high school they are given more freedom, and are exposed to people who are much older than them; the junior and seniors are no long young kids, they are young adults. Pipher’s statement about adolescence marking the end of the line for young girls isn’t true, not in 2005. Something that is brought up in this book is the necessary relationship between parents and daughters. I agree with Mary Pipher because of corporate America’s influence on young women. Unfortunately, at this critical time girls tend to turn away from their parents and befriend peers, who they turn to for help.
This tendency is not good because the peers are also exposed to mass media and are equally vulnerable. Pipher is correct in saying that adolescence is a time when parental bonds are crucial; however in this country adolescence is portrayed as the time when kids are supposed to break away from everything and become independent. In conclusion, Mary Pipher is correct in saying that adolescent girls have a very hard time once they hit age fifteen. However, when she says that “girls put aside their authentic selves and decide only to display a small portion of their gifs,” she is stretching the limits.
This may have been true in 1994, but now women have been advancing in society, and this false portrayal of self is something that is very rare in young girls. There will always be minor problems in any society, especially when it involves young men and women experiencing much change and new pressure. The only thing our society can do is work to fix these problems. It is evident that much progress has been made because many of the things wrong in 1994 have been corrected by 2005. America is on the right track, but has much track left to cover.