Photo By: Courtesy of Ana Homayoun
Ana Homayoun, right, works with a student in her office at Green Ivy Educational Consulting in downtown Los Altos. Homayoun is author of the newly released “The Myth of the Perfect Girl.”
When Los Altos native Ana Homayoun, founder of Green Ivy Educational Counseling, began seeing successful girls with doubts about their achievements, she realized there was a conversation that needed to start.
“So many girls were coming into our office, who were doing so many wonderful things, but they never felt they were good enough – that there were all sorts of external expectations they weren’t meeting,” she said.
Homayoun works with approximately 150 local families at her office at 302 Main St., helping students with schoolwork and promoting overall wellness as they plan for college.
“The Myth of the Perfect Girl: Helping Our Daughters Find Authentic Success and Happiness in School and Life” (Perigee Trade, 2012), Homayoun’s second book released Dec. 31, addresses how parents and the community can help girls navigate the difficulties they face.
She has received positive feedback since the book’s release.
Homayoun said two college interns in her office finished the book within three days and concurred that it addressed “what so many of us deal with but no one wants to talk about.”
“My experiences with girls inspired me to write the book, because I felt there is so much out there that we are not talking about right now that needs to be addressed in a positive way,” Homayoun said. “I want to shift the conversation from just achievement to overall wellness.”
She said girls feel immense pressure to be picture-perfect, earn good grades and participate in all the appropriate activities – but many aren’t taking the time to involve themselves in something they enjoy.
“I saw so many girls come in for college counseling with similar résumés,” Homayoun said. “They were great people, but they were clearly anxious they weren’t good enough, and they were exhausted and overwhelmed. There is something wrong with that.”
Her book addresses girls’ tendency to accept others’ expectations rather than to generate and pursue their own version of personal success and fulfillment. As a result, many are left feeling empty and develop mental-health problems.
The book includes exercises for parents and daughters that challenge the reader to focus on specific aspects of wellness that can increase the enjoyment of life. One exercise, the Game of Threes, encourages girls to list new things they want to try, examine what they enjoy doing and do more things they wish they had time for.
On Homayoun’s “Myth of the Perfect Girl” Facebook page, girls nationwide are playing the Game of Threes and sharing their experiences baking or trying knitting for the first time.
“Let’s look at how you want to be spending your time and improve your enjoyment of activities,” she said.
The book touches on academics and how to balance the pressures for achievement with overall wellness.
“I always talk about the wellness piece with students – it’s not just about getting better grades,” Homayoun said. “We focus on the habits you want to change. If you change the habits, the results will come – and they will often be better than you imagine.”
Homayoun also addresses social issues like bullying but wants to shift the conversation to ask why it is happening.
“When you don’t feel good about yourself, you often try to find ways to assuage that,” she said. “Sometimes being mean to others is a quick fix.”
The book encourages parents to stay involved with their daughters, asking them to share how they use technology and discuss the television shows they watch.
Homayoun suggested that parents and their daughters read the book in tandem and start a conversation. Her Facebook page features helpful questions designed to spark discussion.
“The Myth of the Perfect Girl” is available on Amazon.com and at major book retailers. Purchase it locally at Main Street Cafe & Books or Linden Tree Books.
Homayoun is scheduled to appear 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Kepler’s Books, 1010 El Camino Real, Menlo Park.
For more information, visit www.facebook.com/mythoftheperfectgirl.