Friday, April 17, 2009

Did the Superwomen Create the Supergirls?

When I was in 4th grade, my teacher told my parents that I had to go to college. I remember my parents -- my mother, especially -- being proud of this acknowledgment of my learning potential. Apparently, Mrs. Ortman didn't make that recommendation for every girl in the class. Nowadays, it is expected that most kids will go to college. In fact, the accomplishments of previous generations of women have opened nearly all doors for girls everywhere to pursue anything they put their minds to. Some people are now arguing that -- unlike boys -- today's girls might be at risk of developing an anxiety unique to their generation's myriad potential. A new book titled "Supergirls Speak Out" by Liz Funk addresses the problems caused by the current class of overachievers. Like the Superwoman of the '80s and '90s who managed to handle school and work while raising a family, today's Supergirl is expected to excel in everything: academics, sports, social life, and look like a runway model while doing it all. 20-year-old Funk writes from an insider's perspective, bemoaning the fact that she didn't publish her first book until age 20. Today's girls -- unlike my grandmother's, my mother's and even my own generation (I'm 35) -- can do anything. But that doesn't mean they should do everything. Some women embrace the Superwoman persona; but many do not. Maybe its up to those of us who've had a taste of the Superwoman life to teach our daughters and other girls that it's one thing to be super, but quite another to be overextended. My mother wanted to to excel, but she also wanted me to take the time to enjoy life and be happy. Maybe my mom really was the Superwoman after all!


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