Reviving Olphelia by Mary Pipher

Essay by Paul83ZUniversity, Master'sA+, March 2002

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Reviving Ophelia

Mary Pipher's book, Revivng Ophelia, was an attempt to describe the struggle our adolescent girls endure trying to make sense of our popular culture. Our group decided to turn our presentation into a talk show featuring some of the girls profiled in the book as well as Mary, their psychologist. They key messages we attempted to show the class were: the stress relationships between parents and adolescent girls is are under as a result of a misogynistic culture, the effects of the popular culture on the girls' perception of selves, and the dangers of ignoring these implications.

Pipher argues that because of our changing times, it is hard for parents to understand what their daughters are going through. She says that this is particularly hard for fathers whose responsibilities have changed significantly from the 1950's to the present.

Her main argument centers around what happens to these girls if they are not successful at making sense of the images and values that are constantly being presented to them at school, home, and in the media.

She says that this Junk culture is a major threat to the girls' true selves, the part of them that has their own interets at heart, what makes them feel valuable and important. Instead, the girls false selves take over, they are preoccupied with being what others expect them to be, and because of this they experience great pain, confusion and estrangement. These feelings manifest themselves in eating disorders, abusive relationships and behavior, and even suicide. It is rare for girls to emerge from adolescence with their true selves intact.

Pipher calls attention to the role that schools play in this adolescent experience throughout the book, but her passion for equity lies in understanding the difficulties our daughters and students face. She...