a bookclique pick by Vanessa Kroll Bennett
Girls in our society feel that they are not enough — not thin enough, pretty enough, smart enough, successful enough — and it is causing a mental health crisis with new levels of depression, eating disorders and anxiety in our young women. Rachel Simmons’ clear, insightful and practical new book, Enough As She Is, provides a lens through which to understand the phenomenon of self-criticism, perfectionism and body shaming that is feeding this crisis.
A compelling continuation of her previous works, Simmons’ book draws from both her own research and the studies conducted by others to bravely take on a wide range of topics affecting girls, including the pressure of the “College Industrial Complex,” the impact of social media, and the burden of girls’ “role overload,” to name a few.
In particular, Simmons argues that while society has given teenage girls new opportunities to succeed, we have not unburdened them from the outdated feminine roles from generations past. On top of being excellent students, competitive athletes, and leaders in school, they are still meant to be effortlessly beautiful, thin, and sweet. This strain girls feel to “curate an exhaustive range of identities” places enormous pressure on them to perform in all aspects of life: online, in the classroom, on the sports field, and in their social lives. Coupled with extrinsic motivations like getting into college and pleasing others, we are ultimately propelling girls toward unmanageable stress, depression, and anxiety.
Simmons argues that our job as parents is to guide girls toward intrinsic motivation in their lives, partly by helping them shed some of the many roles they are being asked to play. In each chapter, Simmons offers practical language and tactics for adults to support girls in finding their way to self-compassion and ultimately, purpose. She saliently shows that teaching your daughter to recognize that she is “enough as she is” is not just good for her — it is necessary for the health of our next generation of women.