Monday, March 16, 2009

RATE IT! Supergirls Speak Out

Look in any school, any office - you'll find young women who are doing it for themselves and then some! 

Self-professed Supergirl, author Liz Funk, has written a new book called, "Supergirls Speak Out: Inside the Secret Crisis of Overachieving Girls". Her examination is insightful and at times, scary. We've all known those girls in school, or even in the workplace who seem clearly focused on succeeding at all costs. Nothing new, right? 

Actually, this unbridled drive to be the toppermost is switching into a more obsessive gear. Not only do these women aim to earn top marks at high school & college, but also to have the most enviable social lives and to present the most ideal picture to the world of what a smart, success woman is all about. This all-consuming quest can actually be seriously detrimental if left unchecked and allowed to flourish at an unhealthy pace. 

Ms. Funk ~ who authored this book at the age of 18! ~  took some time out of her hectic press tour to answer some pressing questions for us:

LTG: Who is to blame for the evolution of Supergirls? Is it a new phenomenon?

Liz Funk: My sense is that while the roles for girls in society have always been limiting and somewhat inflexible, never before has the female ideal been so demanding.  Girls perceive that they need to be perfect if they want to be loved and that they need to be constantly improving themselves, and that’s a new phenomenon (and it’s so time consuming)!  I think the media is partly to blame (and the lack of media literacy in Generation Y—many girls have trouble separating entertainment and reality in their television, and compare their lives to what they see on TV).  But luckily, it’s something that can be easily fixed.  When girls start being themselves and allow themselves to be publicly imperfect, other girls will follow suit, and there will be less pressure on girls, as a whole.  It’s starting a revolution by liking who you are!

LTG:  Your book mentions that social status is just as important as high grades yet we’re living in a pop culture society where girls idolize the likes of fluffy Paris Hilton over the hard-working, brainy Tina Fey – do you foresee a balance forthcoming, or even tipping towards Fey?

Liz Funk: Good question!  Because the women in the media are usually valued mainly for how they look—and not what they contribute or how smart they are—I think the celebrities who girls look up to indeed tend to be beautiful, often anti-intellectual women like Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, and Jessica Simpson.  But I hope things change!  There are some fun, pensive female celebrities who I really like, like Anne Hathaway, Katherine Heigl, and Tina Fey (love her!) who I hope that girls will come to admire more than the female celebrities who are often negative influences.

LTG:  One belief is that Supergirls multitask their achievements in order to distract themselves from “real” life – where should one draw the line in order not to get sucked into the Supergirl vortex?

Liz Funk: I think that many girls become Supergirls and make smaller tasks into HUGE productions so they’re busy all the time as a means to make themselves feel valuable and distract themselves from the idea that they feel very unsatisfied with who they are.  Girls need to find a sense of intrinsic worth—why they matter outside of what they look like, what they’ve accomplished, and how others perceive them. 

LTG: From your research, have you seen the Supergirl mystique continuing on into adulthood & life on the job?

Liz Funk: Yes! In general, if the Supergirl mentality isn’t confronted, it just keeps going (and often grows!).  There are lots of Supergirls on the job, who want to produce perfect work and are very sensitive to criticism, and there are a ton of “Supermoms.”  When we hear about moms who make homemade Halloween costumes for their kids and run themselves ragged trying to be the perfect mom, that’s definitely Supergirl behavior in an older generation.

LTG: Is it necessary for all Supergirls to crash & burn before realizing that their non-stop achieving ethic is dangerous for them? 
Liz Funk: My take is that although it’s great when Supergirls can realize they have a problem before things go too far (and develop an eating disorder or exhaustion), when young women have emotional meltdowns or what have you because of their Supergirl lifestyles, they’re poised to examine why they’re living the way they’re living and perhaps make some drastic changes to live happier, healthier lives.

Thanks for the chat, Liz!

Liz's wonderfully intriguing book is published by Touchstone and can be found at bookstores or on-line at Liz's website and

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow. That actually makes me think twice about achieving at all costs :S

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