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Enough As She Is: How to Help Girls Move Beyond Impossible Standards of Success to Live Healthy, Happy, and Fulfilling Lives Hardcover – February 27, 2018
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“Enough As She Is may save millions of women from the idea that ‘having it all’ means ‘doing it all.’ Women as well as men have the right to make choices that suit us uniquely, yet girls and women are more subject to external standards that we had nothing to do with creating. Rachel Simmons has given us the next step in our peaceful revolution: not only changing women to fit the world, but changing the world to fit women.” (Gloria Steinem)
“Rachel Simmons is the expert on helping girls become leaders. In a world that too often tells our girls to be quiet, not assertive; deferential, not opinionated; meek, not bold; and insecure, not confident, Rachel says otherwise – and she has the advice and research to back it up. This book is a must read for girls who want to lead – and for the parents, teachers, and coaches who want to help them get there.” (Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and founder of LeanIn.Org and OptionB.Org)
“This is the book parents have been waiting for. With levels of stress, anxiety and depression soaring among children and teens, raising girls has never been more challenging. With Enough As She Is national girl expert Rachel Simmons gives families the tools they need to redefine success for their daughters so they can truly thrive.” (Ariana Huffington)
“This book is an essential resource for educators committed to building girls’ resilience as learners.” (Carol Dweck, author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success and Professor of Psychology, Stanford University)
“Is it wrong that I wanted to underline every single word in this book? Simmons brilliantly crystallizes contemporary girls’ dilemma: the way old expectations and new imperatives collide; how a narrow, virtually unattainable vision of ‘success’ comes at the expense of self-worth and well-being. Enough As She Is a must-read, not only for its diagnosis of the issues but for its insightful, useful strategies on how to address them.” (Peggy Orenstein, author of Girls & Sex)
“A brilliant and passionate call to action that reveals how girls and young women are suffering in our toxic culture of constant comparison and competition. This is the book parents need to change girls’ lives and guide them to truly become happy, healthy, and powerful adults.” (Rosalind Wiseman, author of Queen Bees and Wannabees)
“This book is a rare find for any parent or mentor of a girl child. It exposes the abject harm of today’s perfect-at-any-price childhood, and illustrates how a girl’s anxious, busy, self-deprecating performance strategy is entirely normal yet further harm-inducing. Packed with conversational specifics you can deploy with the teen girls in your life, this book is your chance to be who she needs you to be. Buy it. Read it. Live it. Help the girl you love realize the most important of all certainties: that she truly is enough as she is.” (Julie Lythcott-Haims, author of the New York Times bestseller How to Raise an Adult, and Real American: A Memoir)
“Nobody captures the highs, lows and sheer capacity of a teen girl’s mind like Rachel Simmons. Enough As She Is makes a powerful case that perfectionism is not only pervasive among adolescent girls but also extremely damaging. It’s not enough for girls to achieve, to be at the top of their game--they, and our culture, and sometimes parents, always seem to demand more. Luckily for all of us, Rachel, as always, offers incredibly valuable remedies. She offers a path for our daughters to move through life with confidence, and to work towards joy, satisfaction, and happiness, instead of an unattainable goal. Parents of girls need this book!” (Claire Shipman and Katty Kay, New York Times bestselling authors of the The Confidence Code)
“Enough as She Is is a true gift for parents, teachers, or anyone else in a position to shape and educate the women who will run the world very soon. My copy is filled with sticky notes, exclamation points, and underlined sentences, and I know for a fact that the advice contained in this book will help me be a more aware, supportive, and effective teacher to my female students.” (Jessica Lahey, New York Times bestselling author of The Gift of Failure)
“Enough As She Is shows parents, educators and girls what it means to try to achieve at almost any cost — amplified by social media. That includes pressure to be admitted to just-the-right college — and in some cases just-the-right high school — coupled with unrealistic body-shape expectations.” (USA Today)
From the Back Cover
For many girls today, the drive to achieve is fueled by brutal self-criticism and an acute fear of failure. Though young women have never been more “successful”—outpacing boys in GPAs and college enrollment—they have also never struggled more. On the surface, girls may seem exceptional, but internally they are anxious and overwhelmed, feeling that, no matter how hard they try, they will never be smart enough, successful enough, pretty enough, thin enough, popular enough, or sexy enough.
Rachel Simmons has been studying young women for two decades, and her research plainly shows that girl competence does not equal girl confidence—nor does it equal happiness, resilience, or self-worth. Backed by vivid case studies, Simmons warns that we have raised a generation of young women so focused on achieving that they avoid healthy risks, overthink setbacks, and suffer from imposter syndrome—believing they are frauds. As they spend more time projecting an image of effortless perfection on social media, these girls are prone to withdraw from the essential relationships that offer solace and support and bolster self-esteem.
Deeply empathetic and meticulously researched, Enough As She Is offers a clear understanding of this devastating problem and provides practical parenting advice—including teaching girls self-compassion as an alternative to self-criticism, and instructing how to manage overthinking, resist the constant urge to compare themselves to peers, take healthy risks, navigate toxic elements of social media, prioritize self-care, and seek support when they need it.
Rachel Simmons sounds an alarm to parents and educators, arguing that young women can do more than survive adolescence. They can thrive. Enough As She Is shows us how.
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(Topics addressed in the book include: our unfair cultural expectations of girls, the college application industrial complex and what it does to our girls, how girls use social media and how it can hurt them, fat talk and how/ why girls do it to and with one another, mistakes in thinking girls may make and how to help them think differently, changing self-criticism to self-compassion, how the expectation of 'effortless perfection' is a lie that causes girls stress, and what we as adults and parents need to do and model in order to offer helpful and healthy messages to our girls.)
Here are some excerpts.
1. I am tired of the headlines that trumpet the success of girls, as if good grades and college enrollment were the markers of a life well lived. It's time to dispense with the myth of the so-called amazing girl. We have allowed superficial criteria to influence our judgment of how girls are doing. When I listen to girls talk about how and why they achieve, and at what cost to their bodies, hearts, and minds, success is not the first word that comes to mind. We have long understood that low-income girls face multiple risks to their health, but new research finds that affluent adolescent girls are shockingly vulnerable. High school girls in affluent suburbs report using cigarettes and marijuana at nearly twice the normative rate. From depression and anxiety to body shame, they exhibit more adjustment problems, across more domains, than any other group of American youth- yet continue to push themselves to achieve.
Why are girls struggling? Psychologists call it 'role overload'- too many roles for a single individual to play- and 'role conflict'- when the obligations of the roles you play are at odds with one another. Both conditions are known to induce high levels of stress. In the so-called age of Girl Power, we have failed to cut loose our most retrograde standards of female success and replace them with something more progressive. Instead, we've shoveled more and more expectation onto the already robust piles of qualities we expect girls to possess.
"Women today have to succeed by traditionally male standards of education and career, but they also have to succeed by the traditionally female standards of beauty (not to mention motherhood)," Duke University's Susan Roth has written. Girls have to be superhuman: ambitious, smart and driven, physically fit, pretty and sexy, socially active, athletic and kind and liked by everyone. As Courtney Martin put it in 'Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters', "Girls grew up hearing they could be anything, but heard they had to be everything." (Page xii)
2. Girls have three choices when they hear that distress signal pulsing inside of them: Pretend it's not happening. See it as a sign that something is wrong with them. Or realize it means something is just plain...wrong.
If girls label distress as a sign there's something wrong with *them*, they miss the chance to attune to their own authentic needs and act with wisdom. They also revert to social comparison, obsessing over why others don't seem as unhappy or unlucky as they are. In these situations, parents must push their daughters to focus on their own lives and their own choices- and not worry about the other person down the hall or how happy everyone else seems. Everyone is different, and on her own track. Comparison is pointless and painful.
Instead, girls can choose to hear the signal inside them as a sign something is wrong, period. As parents, we must set the tone: when we help them bypass the shame and self-judgment, we bring them closer to a more clearheaded evaluation of their choices, and help them turn an existential crisis into an opportunity. We can start with language: instead of "dropping out" or "quitting", we can talk about "changing course" or simply "taking a break." (Page 190)
If I could, I would just hand out copies to every parent I know. This book is that good.