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response to NYT front page April 2, 2007

Posted by Wasik in college, female perfection.

I found the article on the front page of the NY Times today frustrating (Professor Parham has posted it on the left, if you haven’t seen it). It’s about the pressures facing girls today in a tough high school in Newton, MA. Mainly, the article talks about how the girls feel that they are expected to excel in athletics, extracurriculars, and academics in order to be accepted to an elite college; at the same time, they feel the pressure to be stylish and ‘effortlessly’ look good.

Now, I understand that getting into college is hard. There are more kids applying to college now that ever before, and most of them are female, making it slightly easier for boys to get in. However, these girls are in a privileged situation, and the pressures that they feel come as a result of that privilege. Worrying about whether or not you will will be accepted to an Ivy League institution is a luxury which most of the country (much less the world) is not able to afford. If these upper/upper-middle class teenage girls have to work hard for four years to prove themselves, so be it. Their lives may be stressful, but their futures are relatively secure.

Secondly, I had a problem with this article’s focusing on young women. I think that boys in such high schools face the same intensity of, if not the same exact, pressures as girls do. The article emphasized the fact that young women felt the need to be effortlessly pretty and fashionable as well as successful; however, although boys may not spend as much time worrying about their designer jeans, they have other other concerns and must impress their friends in other ways. Generally, I think that the article artificially makes the stressful situation present in competitive high schools, or ‘problem’ (if it can even be called that– I like to think of it as a ‘phenomenon’) a gender-based one, when it is actually generational.



1. joannawasik - April 4, 2007

Ooh, look! Someone at salon.com agrees with me. rocktastic.


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