Girls Under Pressure: Can a YA Book Help?

A new study in Scotland finds tween and teen girls crumbling under cultural pressure: 
Over the two decades, (Helen) Sweeting found that, while the 15-year-old boys she spoke to had experienced a small increase in psychological distress, the number of girls of the same age reporting mental issues from mild anxiety to issues serious enough to justify hospital treatment, had jumped sharply ... "Girls are growing up schooled like no other in the fine art of dissatisfaction – with their lives, their possessions and their bodies."
Assuming a growing global homogeneity of youth culture, I shared this article on twitter today and asked two questions:
  1. Are there cultural sub-pockets where strong girls find shelter from the "be successful *and* sexy or else" stress storm?

  2. When it comes to cultural pressure on teen girls, should YA writers try to mend, join the trend, or neither?
Theater, sports, Girl Scouts, fasting from media, and strong families were among the responses to the first question. (If you have others, leave them in the comments.)

As for the question of responsible writing for tweens and teens without didacticism, Janni Lee Simner, author of Bones of Faerie, gave this balanced answer: "They should try to show [the pressure] truly — to give it and readers a voice."

Books were definitely a haven for me in the face of cultural pressure, even though I came of age in a much less stressful time for girls. That's why I'm proud Secret Keeper made the 2010 ALA Amelia Bloomer List, a bibliography "intended to highlight feminist books examining women’s history, those that celebrate women who have blazed trails, and those that describe problems and identify solutions for situations we face today."