Newsflash: Trying To Be A Superhero Makes You Sick

Illustration for article titled Newsflash: Trying To Be A Superhero Makes You Sick

Yesterday's Telegraph had an article with details from a study about the "Superwoman Syndrome." That's when teenage girls try so hard to be perfect that they damage their physical and mental health. The study found that girls as young as 13 are trying to do well in school while looking good, staying thin and excelling at sports. The stress often results in eating disorders.

Dr. Janell Lynn Mesinger, who directed the Sex Roles survey which questioned 900 girls at American schools, said: "What fuels disordered eating in some women is the desire to be the ultimate woman. Superwomen want the perfect life. No matter how well they are doing, they never feel quite good enough.

The eating disorder is a coping mechanism to deal with the fulfilment of multiple demanding roles."


Women struggling for perfection is not new, but girls wanting to live up to an unattainable image perpetuated by celebrities is, unfortunately, more and more pervasive. While we were pondering the "Superwoman" problem, we came across this post on the blog Feministe, about Wonder Woman. Or, more accurately, how she is seen by some artists. Love her as a strong warrior, not so much as a soft-porn pin-up. But you know, at least Wonder Woman was on TV when we were little. Teens today have The Hills. And if you don't think any of this is a problem, remember that the rate of teenage girls committing suicide is at an all-time high.

Superwoman Syndrome 'Harms Girls' Health' [Telegraph]
Related: Wonder Woman, Interpreted [Feministe]


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This post hits a little close to home. In high school, I don't know that I was an overachiever, but I knew that to get a good job, I'd have to go to a good school, and to get to a good school, I'd need to do well in high school. I calmed down a bit in college, but I kind of wish I hadn't, since I didn't do as well as I could have.

Of course, it's a rude awakening when you get into the "real world" and all the hard work and stress didn't pay off into an enjoyable, fulfilling job the way we were told it would.

I don't know that this is a problem specific to women, but maybe, as more women go to college and go for high-power, high-stress jobs, it's becoming more of a problem.