Sometimes I'll come across an idea, project, or book that I am sooooo blown away by I desperately wish I was ingenious enough to think it up myself. So is the story of The Girl Project. O.M.G.
You have to read this article about it and come back here: http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/44846267/ns/today-today_people/t/girl-project-reveals-what-teens-are-really-thinking/#.TpTZEOxvzgw
Here's what the jacket says about Please Read (If At All Possible): The Girl Project. Female adolescence through the eyes of teenage girls for a teenage-girl audience. This empowering volume introduces the reader to an insider’s view of teenage girlhood. Through their participation in The Girl Project-created in 2007 by Kate Engelbrecht to explore the personal realities of modern female adolescence-teenage girls contributed intimate, heartwarming, diarylike text entries and photographs that capture their personal and private moments. To date, over 5,000 girls between the ages of 13 and 18 have sent in photographs, along with anonymously completed questionnaires that communicate their view of themselves and the world around them. This collection of images and text details the private and personal lives of adolescents, which together reveal an amazing narrative communicated as only teenage girls know and understand. The girls touch upon universal issues, such as their struggles with self-confidence and body image, relationships with peers and family, and their dissatisfaction with how they are presented by the media and in popular culture.
Teen readers will be rewarded with a wonderful set of sincere, deep messages and the reassurance that they are not alone.
I often watch "teen" television shows like Gossip Girl and 90210 but these teens are not the teens I knew when I was in high school. They might be cast as teens but their attitudes, worldviews, and access are far different. This was, in fact, the impetus for the book. It came about as a simple question that author Engelbrecht posed to herself: Are girls really that much different than when I was a teen?
To answer that question she embarked on a phenomenal journey and sociology project known as The Girl Project, and the book is its summary--it's tale of the real teenage girl's life today.
In many ways the project and its findings didn't reveal anything necessarily shocking, at least if you were to poll my teenage self. Girls are self conscious about their bodies, about how to communicate in relationships, they strongly value friendship, and are afraid of being alone. It's not sex they're after but love. Sound familiar?
I think what's shocking and groundbreaking about this novel is that its text reflects real girls. It's not an escape like so much of YA but rather a comfort to say, "We get it. There are others just like you."
I think that's why I devoured Sabrina Ward Harrison's book Spilling Open: The Art of Becoming Yourself. I was just going into college when that book came out and something about it just...clicked. It was one of those divine moments in literature where you read something and you think, "Yes, exactly. How did you know?!" Where it feels like someone is right inside your head plucking your thoughts, writing down your feelings.
We need more books like this whether non-fiction like these works or fiction novels with realistic characters. Not everyone is being fought over by two gorgeous guys and navigating the terrain of their first (or more) sexual encounters. Lots of girls--and guys for that matter--are just trying to figure out braces and pimples and body image issues along with how to talk to their crush and how to fit in.
We need to let teens know there are others like them and I think this book is a really great start.