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Jewesses with Attitude

Rachel Simmons on the Truths of Girls' Lives

One of the country’s foremost experts on the lives of American girls is Rachel Simmons, a 35-year-old alumna of Vassar College and Oxford University who also attended the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School through high school. Her mother is Israeli, and, she says, she was raised in a “Conservative-Israeli” kind of household. Graduate school investigation of aggression in teenage girls led her to write “Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls,” and later, to write “The Curse of the Good Girl: Raising Authentic Girls with Courage and Confidence,”, and establish the Girls Leadership Institute.

Last week Simmons hosted the PBS show “A Girl’s Life”, which looks at the complicated lives of four teenagers: basketball player Annaluz, who struggles with being plump even as she’s athletic and strong; an inner-city young mother named Carla, who gets involved in vicious, scarring physical fights with other young women; Sonia, the daughter of Mexican illegal immigrants whose mother gets her into the Young Women’s Leadership School in East Harlem, which leads to college; and Libby, a popular girl whose former best friend becomes her cyber-bully, with painful results.

Simmons, who calls Park Slope home, spoke with The Sisterhood from South Africa, where she was teaching and spending time with her partner.

Read the interview here.

Debra Nussbaum Cohen is a regular contributor to The Sisterhood, which crossposts weekly with Jewesses with Attitude.

How to cite this page

Cohen, Debra Nussbaum. "Rachel Simmons on the Truths of Girls' Lives." 4 January 2010. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on March 30, 2015) <http://jwa.org/blog/rachel-simmons>.

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