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Reflections on Orenstein's Schoolgirls

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Friday night, as I watched television I evaluated commercial content in relation to the target of women and what message advertisements send to women of all ages. In one hour I saw twenty-four commercials, eleven were targeted at women and every single one had something to do with either the appearance or beauty of women or a domestic focus. These commercials touted products to enhance beauty or lose weight with the underlying message of "improved self-esteem". I have always blamed the media, or more broadly, cultural attitudes for the problems young girls and women face with low self-image and often find myself citing Barbie dolls and the overwhelmingly pink aisles at the toys-r-us as a root cause of the marginalization of women's roles. Peggy Orenstein refers to this as the "politics of the external", a term which, at first, I had a difficult time accepting. Is this not a major implication when discussing a society that promotes female self-censorship and devalued intellectual potential? After reading "Schoolgirls" I came to understand exactly what Orenstein meant and she convinced me that "the internal need not, and indeed should not, be ignored". Although it may not be well documented it is indeed established that although "women's lib" has come a very long way since we received the right to vote there are still social implications that can only confuse women's' identity and self-image. Peggy Orenstein's book has indeed caused me to look deeper into the internal issues affecting self-esteem that women face beginning with adolescence. It would be a tremendous disservice to the youth of America as teachers if we were to simply accept the external causes to the self-esteem crisis since, on a grander scale it is truly o... ... middle of paper ... ...nd an athlete. These meetings are a big hit and I feel relieved that they know I care about them as individuals outside of athletics. Peggy Orenstein successfully investigates deeper into girls' self-esteem issues and their academic significance. The AAUW survey identifies the self-esteem issue facing adolescent girls and its' affects as a whole, however, Orenstein targets the problem beginning at adolescence and brings to light a "hidden curriculum" of schools that only facilitates these issues. She is providing a much needed path of action that enables educators to make changes in their classroom or school to help address these issues of self-esteem. Teachers may not be able to control the world their students face when they leave the room, but they can provide a positive internal environment; one in which boys and girls are valued and encouraged equally.
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