Book Review of Enough as She Is: How to Help Girls Move Beyond Impossible Standards of Success to Live Healthy, Happy and Fulfilling Lives by Rachel Simmons (2018)

Enough as She Is shines a spotlight on the pressures facing adolescent girls and young women today and encourages those young women, their families, friends and communities, to see them as “enough as she is”. Author Rachel Simmons has spent two decades researching and working with young women. In this book she details the stressors placed on them by our society and how these stressors lead to anxiety, depression and feelings of being overwhelmed. As such, this book is part Feminist literature and part self-help. There are particularly interesting and relevant chapters on the role of social media and body image in young women’s lives. These are two issues, one new and the other which has been around for several generations, for which the author offers a unique perspective and challenge. The book is very solidly set in American society (and predominantly upper-middle-class society at that). There are, therefore, several aspects of the book which may not translate to the New Zealand situation. For example, the author talks a lot about the “College Application Industrial Complex” – the name she has given to the process American high school students go through in order to be accepted into an American University. From what I have seen, applying for Universities in New Zealand has not (yet) become this competitive, although there are aspects which young women and their families may recognise.  The book is primarily aimed at parents of young women and the author provides plenty of useful strategies and conversation starters, most of which are grounded in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and Mindfulness, for parents wanting to assist their daughters. I suspect, however, that anyone struggling with perfectionistic standards and role overload would benefit from reading this book, considering the questions it poses and completing some of the exercises.

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