Liz Funk`s Supergirls Speak Out Hits Bookstands
Supergirls Speak Out: Inside the Secret Crisis of Overachieving Girls
Senior English major Liz Funk knows what it’s like to be a young woman striving for perfection. In her new book, Supergirls Speak Out: Inside the Secret Crisis of Overachieving Girls, she shares why girls who seem “perfect” are often overwhelmed. Liz is completing her coursework online while on a book tour, but the Dyson Digital Digest caught up with her to ask her a few questions about her book and about being a “Supergirl.”
Q: Why did you write Supergirls Speak Out?
A: I wrote this book because I had to. I’d always noticed young women in my peer groups who tried to be perfect and tried to make doing-it-all look easy; they were scholars, they were leaders, they were musically or artistically talented, they were pretty, and they were charming. But more often than not, the truth eventually came out that they were doing all this to cover up some serious unhappiness. I wanted to research why it was that today’s young women were feeling pressured to be perfect; what I found was shocking. So many young women today feel that if they want to be loved or if they want recognition, they have to be in a constant state of improving themselves and working to be “better.” So many young women today have no sense of why they matter outside of what they look like and what they do for others. It was shocking! So I also interviewed psychologists, life coaches, experts on gender, and “recovered Supergirls” for tips on how young women can confront the pressure to be perfect and find themselves.
Q: Is the drive to be a “Supergirl” something that is innate or learned?
A: I would argue that the Supergirl drive is mostly learned. I think that when young women get the message from the media that being a girl isn’t a good thing or a powerful thing, they go into overcompensation mode and they strive to prove their value to others through blue ribbons and great report cards and their good looks. Girls are raised to feel like they’re not special the way they are. What surprised me in my research, however, is that relatively few girls reported that the pressure to do more came from their parents; most girls explained that they were modeling themselves after the celebrity women they saw in the media or that they had invested their entire identities into getting into a good college or a good law school, and that’s why 100% wasn’t enough for them.
Q: What do you do to keep things in balance?
A: To be honest, I’m still not a model example of having a healthy amount of ambition and drive. I work way too much. But what has been helpful is making a schedule for myself, so I know that every weekday, I get up around eight or nine and I work—on writing, on book publicity, on my online classes—until five or six pm. And then the rest of the evening and the entire weekends is supposed to be purely for leisure: I’ve recently taken up playing the oboe, and I like to paint and watch TV and make collages out of photos from magazines. I think step 1 for Supergirls who want to have healthier, happier lives is to get some hobbies and do active or creative activities for pure enjoyment!
Q: How has Pace contributed to your early success?
A: Being in New York City for college was crucial, and actually, none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been in New York for the past three years networking and learning about how the publishing industry worked and eventually getting introduced to the people who made Supergirls Speak Out a reality. Also, it was great to be in a supportive community. When I was writing the book proposal for “Supergirls Speak Out” (and actually, when I was writing lots of other things, like articles and blog posts), I went around the floor of my dorm in Maria’s Tower and interviewed some Honors College girls for their perspective on life and overachieving. Also, I was warned by some of my mentors that people my age might be contemptuous of me as my book was coming out, but I’ve actually seen almost none of that at Pace. It’s so nice to feel like the students are rooting for me, and I feel like that wouldn’t be the case at many other schools.
Q: What’s next for you?
A: Hopefully I’m graduating in May and then hopefully I’ll get another book deal and I’ll be able to keep on doing what I’m doing: writing articles for magazines and newspapers, blogging (I blog at lizfunk.com/blog), and traveling! I’m also going on a book tour, giving lectures about my research on perfectionist girls at colleges; I’ll be talking at Columbia, Duke, NYU, the George Washington University, the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, Rice University, and a few other schools.
Visit Liz’s Web site at http://lizfunk.com/.