Peterson’s analysis is ambitious in its attempt to flesh out how young women are manipulated by this ideal of perfection, covering their “relationship with self-esteem, confidence, assertiveness, body image, hookup culture, belonging, and mental health” in meticulous detail, alongside the psychological and physiological effects of adhering to “the Myth.” Crucially, Peterson includes perspectives from Black and LGBTQIA+ students, as well as those belonging to other historically underrepresented groups, to expose the Myth’s ubiquitous presence in the lives of undergraduate women. Although the statistics paint a bleak picture of the aftereffects of perfectionism, this playbook does offer hope: Peterson is confident that raising awareness of how the Myth functions can transform students’ worldviews toward one of “individualized agency and empowerment”— ultimately a move away from the expectations of patriarchal society.
Among the strongest advice are suggestions addressing mental health issues and on how to use counter-narratives to the Myth to develop an identity based in authenticity. Though Peterson positions her guide as useful for “today’s generation of college students,” some readers may find its length intimidating; with that said, readers willing to dive deep into its inner workings will come away with the tools and wisdom essential to pursuing the college experience with clear eyes and a balanced, healthy approach.
Takeaway: An illuminating, in-depth analysis of the ideal of “perfectionism” for young women in college.
Great for fans of: Paul Dolan’s Happy Ever After, Rebecca Traister’s All the Single Ladies.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A