Tuesday, January 12, 2010

"A Girl's Life with Rachel Simmons"

While channel surfing, my husband, Chris, discovered what could be the most important documentary released this year -- especially for those of us interested in women’s issues.

If you know a girl between the ages of 12-18 -- a daughter, a little sister, a niece, or even the girl next door -- you need to watch it.

“A Girl’s Life with Rachel Simmons,” released January 5, is currently showing on PBS stations. Here's the link: http://www.pbs.org/parents/raisinggirls/girlslife/

When they are little, girls outshine boys in all areas of development. In the preschool years they are confident and feisty. But then something changes. The crucial age for girls is 12-18, the middle school and high school years. This is the point in life when they begin to lose that confidence and their self esteem. The program examines some reasons why.

In addition, girls are maturing at a younger age than girls of previous generations. Additionally, they must also cope with pressures and problems that were previously unknown, or perhaps less prevalent, when their mothers were young. The program profiles four girls, each coping with a different issue.

Analuz is coping with body image. She is a young Latina preparing to celebrate her Quincenera, but has a hard time finding a dress because she’s a size 15.

The fact is, Simmons points out, that while 25% of girls wear larger clothing sizes, only 10% of teen clothing comes in these sizes.

Libby is a victim of cyberbullying. Girls use texting much more than boys and, according to Simmons, the “technology reinforces the social dynamics of hierarchy.” Cyberbullies can follow their victims anywhere and only 5% of girls will tell an adult about the problem, Simmons says.

Carla is a member of a “crew,” a girl’s gang. The requirements for membership are that a girl must be pretty, have money, dress well, or be able to fight. Violence among girls is escalating – up 60% in the last two decades. The sad part is that fights between girls are not taken as seriously as fights between boys.

Sonia is about to graduate from an innovative,all-girls public high school in New York – The Young Women’s Leadership School . The school claims that girls thrive in an environment without boys.

Rachel Simmons is an author, researcher, and founder of the Girl’s Leadership Institute. PBS recommends her 2002 book, “Odd Girl Out” as companion reading to the documentary.

“A Girl’s Life” not only sheds light on the complex issues girls face today, but also shares how a caring adult influence in their lives is the one factor that can truly make a difference.

(I would like to do a follow-up, reaction piece. I invite you to watch “A Girl’s Life” and let me know your thoughts. I’d also like to know if anyone has experienced these issues, or know someone who has experienced them. Email your responses to me at cherwyro@wowway.com –Cherie)

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting that Cherie. I'm going to see if their going to replay it, or if I can watch it online.

    There is a movie called "Odd Girl Out" I doubt that it's based on her book. I looked it up on Barnesandnoble.com and from the passages it seems like it's more of an informative book, then a fictional story.

    But that's only from glancing at a few pages. But here is a link to the site of the movie. I havn't seen it in awhile, so my memory of it is a little foggy. But I believe that it really relates to what you posted before about girl on gril violence.