Tuesday, April 03, 2007

For Girls, It's Be Yourself, and Be Perfect, Too

As the proud father of three amazing girls (ages 10, 7 and 4), who will almost certainly become the "amazing girls" discussed in this article, I'm starting to see -- and worry about -- these pressures.

Esther and Colby are two of the amazing girls at Newton North High School here in this affluent suburb just outside Boston. “Amazing girls” translation: Girls by the dozen who are high achieving, ambitious and confident (if not immune to the usual adolescent insecurities and meltdowns). Girls who do everything: Varsity sports. Student government. Theater. Community service. Girls who have grown up learning they can do anything a boy can do, which is anything they want to do.

But being an amazing girl often doesn’t feel like enough these days when you’re competing with all the other amazing girls around the country who are applying to the same elite colleges that you have been encouraged to aspire to practically all your life.


For Girls, It’s Be Yourself, and Be Perfect, Too

Published: April 1, 2007 

NEWTON, Mass., March 31 — To anyone who knows 17-year-old Esther Mobley, one of the best students at one of the best public high schools in the country, it is absurd to think she doesn’t measure up. But Esther herself is quick to set the record straight.  

“First of all, I’m a terrible athlete,” she said over lunch one day.

“I run, I do, but not very quickly, and always exhaustedly,” she continued. “This is one of the things I’m most insecure about. You meet someone, especially on a college tour, adults ask you what you do. They say, ‘What sports do you play?’ I don’t play any sports. It’s awkward.”

Esther, a willowy, effervescent senior, turned to her friend Colby Kennedy. Colby, 17, is also a great student, a classical pianist, fluent in Spanish, and a three-season varsity runner and track captain. Did Colby worry, Esther asked, that she fell short in some way?

“Or,” said Esther, and now her tone was a touch sarcastic, “do you just have it all already?”

They both burst out laughing.

 Subscribe in a reader