A Girl's Life

Author Rachel Simmons brings together the latest research on the psychological, physical and emotional development of girls.

Film Signature Image
Premiere Date
December 30, 2009
60 minutes
Funding Initiative
Open Call

Tug Yourgrau

Co-founder and vice president of Powderhouse Productions, Tug Yourgrau is an award-winning documentary filmmaker with more than 26 years experience. He has been executive producer or producer/director on many films that have been broadcast on The Discovery Channel, TLC, PBS, WGBH, The History Channel, and The Monitor Channel. Yourgrau is also an Show more award-winning playwright and theatrical director. His play, The Song of Jacob Zulu, received 1993 Tony nominations for Best Play and Best Score (with Ladysmith Black Mambazo). His other plays include Shooting in Madrid, Theft, Cries From the Cockpit, Just The Two of Us, and Higher Power. Yourgrau was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. He holds a BA from Swarthmore College and an MA in European history from Boston University. He is a member of SAG, AFTRA, and the WGA/East. Yourgrau, and his wife, Beth, live with their twins, Sarah and David, outside Boston. Show less

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The Film

Girls growing up in America today have more opportunities than their mothers and grandmothers ever imagined. They do well in school; by fifth grade they’re equal to boys in math and science, and they’re significantly better at reading and writing. They have more career choices, more flexibility in family roles and more female role models in positions of political power.

But even as doors open, girls may not be able to walk confidently through them. When they get to middle school, the self-esteem of girls plunges. Twice as many girls as boys attempt suicide. Twice as many show signs of depression. Girls have a higher risk of abusing alcohol and drugs, and violent physical assaults by girls have skyrocketed since 1990.

Rachel Simmons has been studying girls’s relationships, behavior and psychology for more than a decade. Her best-selling 2002 book Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls started a widespread cultural conversation about girls’ psychological aggression and bullying. Her recently published new book, Curse of the Good Girl, traces the impact of our internalized ideas of “girlhood” on girls’ psychological development.

In A Girl’s Life, Simmons goes back into the field to introduce audiences to four typical teenage American girls. The girls tell their own deeply personal tales of dealing with issues like cyberbullying, body image and violence.

Simmons also interviews parents, psychologists, teachers, and social workers. They share tips on how to help nurture girls into capable, resilient adults. And, as viewers trace the thorny new challenges girls face, the girls themselves reveal an inspiring supply of strength, energy, smarts and support for each other. With courage and determination, these girls reveal their hopes and dreams for a powerful future. As Sonia Luna points out, “The best thing about being a girl is that we can do anything.”