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Private school girls feel pressure to be perfect


Carrie Paechter of Goldsmiths College in London is worried about girls who attend private school.

According to Paechter, there's just too much pressure on them to be perfect--pressure to get high grades, dress well, become successful after college and, of course, be fashionably thin. The stress of it all, says Paechter, is leading to a growing problem for these young women: too many are developing eating disorders.

Girls' Schools Associate Conference

Next week she'll be speaking at the annual Girls' Schools Associate conference, urging the leaders of top private schools to remind young women not to get overloaded with responsibilities. Paechter elaborates:

"Girls are under pressure as never before. There are girls in private schools who are 'projects' of their parents, learning two or three instruments to grade eight standard and excelling in sport and academia because they feel that is what is expected of them, and that is what they expect of themselves."

But this kind of pressure comes with consequences. Many of the girls are ending up in treatment centers for eating disorders, saying that their schools turned a blind eye to their health problems and only cared about academic performance. The young women most at risk? The highly successful ones.

"We need to be aware that it is frequently those girls who appear to be the most socially successful for whom this is a problem, and to act rapidly when problems come to our attention. These are likely to be the tip of a much larger iceberg," Paechter notes.

"Mean Girls" Syndrome

Besides the pressure to do well academically, many girls are falling victim to bullying and peer pressure to look a certain way, whether it's donning designer labels or making sure their hair is flawless.

"One group we studied at a school was very dominant and they kept constant surveillance on each other, checking they had their socks rolled down in the exact way and that their hair was done properly," said Paechter.

Paechter's goal at the upcoming conference will be to help other leaders ensure girls are "ready and armed" to deal with the pressures and challenges that come with private school.

Source: Daily Mail