Letter from the Editor: We Focus on American Teenage Girls
Whitaker, Mark, Newsweek
Byline: Mark Whitaker
I'm the father of a 15-year-old girl. And for years, I've been reading books and studies suggesting that she should be in grave peril. First, there was the early-'90s best-seller "Reviving Ophelia," which predicted that she would lose all her self-confidence as soon as she hit adolescence. Now two new widely discussed books, "Queen Bees & Wannabes" and "Odd Girl Out," make it sound as though she is destined to join a clique of nasty, self-centered "alpha" girls--or become one of their groupies or victims.
I keep waiting, but none of that has happened. In fact, she has only become more self-possessed with age. She does well in school. She has nice, supportive friends. Sure, she has her ups and downs, but she is handling all the intense pressures of being a teenager quite well, thank you, without becoming withdrawn, sadistic or self-destructive.
This week, we decided to explore the real truth about teenage girls today. What we found belies a lot of the pop psychology you may have heard about. Talking with real experts, Barbara Kantrowitz discovered that there's no hard evidence behind the "Ophelia" and "mean girls" generalizations. And when she went back for a week to her high school in San Diego, Susannah Meadows came away thinking that many of the kids were, if anything, healthier-minded than the ones she graduated with a decade ago. …