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Girls on the Edge, Leonard Sax

2010/05/20

As someone who was homeschooled, and therefore sheltered from much of the typical peer, societal, and media pressures of childhood and young adulthood, I have always had a certain fascination with the psychology of adolescence, almost as a foreign culture. Since reading “Queen Bees and Wannabes,” which eventually inspired the movie “Mean Girls,” I have been particularly fascinated with the culture of teen girls, and how it doesn’t really end once the high schoolers go off to college. In this particular book, physician and psychologist Leonard Sax, who previously penned a similar book about boys, examines what he believes are four factors impacting the current society in which girls are growing up. These are sexual identity, the cyberbubble, obsessions, and environmental toxins. He dedicates a chapter to each, as well as drawing connections between the various factors. One issue addressed in the sexuality chapter which I have not seen mentioned often in other texts is the increasing “cool” factor of bisexuality and lesbianism. In his chapter on technology, Sax points to sleep deprivation as a factor in the overdiagnosis and medicating of ADHD. In the final chapters, Sax also addresses the importance of feeding the mind, body, and soul of young women, making some interesting points about the differences in physical education, academic education, and religious education for boys and girls.

Though this book does not present a particularly comprehensive look at the adolescence of girls (as evidenced by the title itself), it does make good points about the four titular issues, some of which have yet to be addressed in depth in other materials. An excellent addition to popular literature regarding psychology and development in young women.

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