Excerpt from Ophelia Speaks by Sara Shandler, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Ophelia Speaks

Adolescent Girls Write About Their Search for Self

by Sara Shandler

Ophelia Speaks
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  • First Published:
    Oct 1999, 285 pages
    Jun 1999, 285 pages

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The three contributions to this chapter honestly and insightfully reflect the feelings and thoughts of so many girls. The first short piece, Catalogues, poignantly articulates our frustrated desire to possess the media's "ideal" body. The second, Looking Through a Magnifying Glass, personalizes how the media leaves its impression on our body image. The last, Mirrors, is a startlingly honest portrait that looks past the facade, revealing how the media hurls us into self-loathing. In Mirrors, one of the most astute pieces of writing I have ever read, Charlotte Cooper speaks with such emotional nakedness that she exposes the truth for many of us. When I shared Charlotte's poem with friends, all were stunned by its accuracy. Her image of us standing before our mirrors sets the stage for the next chapter, Eating Disorders.

By Jessica Bulman, 17,
from a small town in the Northeast

Searching through catalogues
you wish you could order
the bodies not the clothes.

Looking Through a Magnifying Glass
By Olga Levinson, 15, from a suburb in the Midwest

"Isn't she soooo pretty?" Tamara would ask, pointing at a stick-thin model with a Barbie-doll body, in Delia's catalog. "I'd love to look like her. She's so skinny." She'd say and continue flipping through the magazine. We had been down this road many times before.

"You already do!" Lindy and I would say in unison. And she did. At five foot six, she had a small body frame, small arms and thighs, small hips, narrow waist, and a flat stomach. She had the athletic body figure all the models seemed to have--the type of body millions of girls only dream of.

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Ophelia Speaks by Sara Shandler. Copyright (c) 1999 by Sara Shandler. Reprinted with permission from HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.

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