Girls today are in crisis - and this book shows why. Drawing on a vast array of lively historical sources, unpublished diaries by adolescent girls, and photographs that conjure up memories of the past, The Body Project chronicles how growing up in a female body has changed over the past century and why that experience is more difficult today than ever before. Girls' bodies have certainly changed - they mature much earlier - but at the same time traditional social supports for girls' growth and development have collapsed. The media and popular culture exploit girls' normal sensitivity to their changing bodies, and many girls grow up believing that "good looks" - rather than "good works" - represent the highest form of female perfection. With an eye for the humor in as well as the pain of female adolescence, Joan Jacobs Brumberg shows how American girls came to define themselves increasingly through their appearance, so that today the body has become their primary project.