The Media’s Attack on Teenage Girls

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I remember listening to the radio shortly after the One Direction ‘break’ was announced and the first thing I heard was a woman telling parents of fans how to approach the situation with their children. It completely and utterly moved me. This woman spoke compassionately, sincerely and with the upmost respect about the aftermath of news like this coming to light. There was no mockery in the broadcast but simply information and advice.

As a young woman, the first thing that sprung to my head when I heard this was that it was strange not to be under attack. Normally, these reports begin and end with ‘hysterical’, ‘crazy’ ‘obsessed’ etc and focus mainly on demonising and mocking things that young women relate to or like. I feel that I face the media’s perception of young women with a relatively thick coat of armour. I have witnessed every form of ridicule in relation to things that young women like. It’s easy to feel as though there is no way to win with stereotypes ranging from being One Direction obsessed to being glued to our front cameras. The odds are undoubtedly stacked against us.

I was only about fourteen when I realised that the media wanted me to believe that being a teenage girl was inherently a flaw. I sat surrounded by my posters, nail kits and CDs and wondered if I was simply a stereotype. I thought about whether it would matter if I was outgoing or smart if the first thing people saw when they met me was my boyband hoodie. The truth is, I did fit the stereotype perfectly and that’s why the media’s portrayal of the teenage girl is so damaging. It is so easy to fit into the stereotype if you are surrounded by the culture of being a 21st century teenager and therefore there is no escaping that sinking feeling that you are the punchline in every joke. This is still true today. It still aggravates me that the first thing I feel when I listen to someone speak of teenage girls compassionately is shock.

How long will teenage girls be the punchline of every joke? The truth is: I don’t know. I personally believe that a large proportion of the aggressiveness towards teenage girls stems from people feeling threatened. If they think something should inherently be beneath them, then viewing the teenage girl as anything more as a punchline is difficult. For some, the thought of the teenage girl being three diminutional is terrifying. The idea that someone can be smart, funny, successful and still love boybands is seen as a myth.

The teenage girl, as a force, is extraordinarily under-appreciated. There is a really wonderful quality that runs throughout all the things that young women are ‘crazy’ about and that’s love. An unabashed, pure and loyal love. This shouldn’t be made out to be a weakness. Instead, it is, and continues to be, a real strength in learning how to be compassionate and understanding about the world around you. Boybands give the chance for young girls to grow and prosper with the help of a love that won’t let them down.

And when it feels like it does? When they feel like they need somewhere to turn? They can switch on the radio and listen to someone validating their feelings with every ounce of respect they deserve.

The Media’s Attack on Teenage Girls

The Teenage Girl Survival Guide: 10 Tips and Truths

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  1. It’s okay to feel as though the world is against you, especially if you fall into the category of a POC woman or an LGBTQA+ member of society, but please remember that you have so much to offer and give.
  2. Your gender does not define you. Not having a vagina does not mean you’re not a girl. I want to give you all a bear hug and tell you we’ve been waiting for you for some time.
  3.  At some point, you’ll be ridiculed for liking something which fits into the “teenage girl” stereotype and made to feel ashamed. Don’t feel ashamed. Feel sorry for the grown man that will never know the pleasure of seeing Harry Styles with braids.
  4. If you need help, ask for it. Tell your GP, your School or your Parents. Please don’t suffer in silence.
  5. Friends will come and go. It’s natural that as you’re changing, you will change what you need from a friend and sometimes you’ll discover that moving on will be the best decision you make.
  6. Don’t feel pressured into doing things you don’t want to do. I promise you that if you stick to your guns, it will pay off. I know speaking up can sometimes be the hardest thing to do but you’re made of iron and you are so much stronger than you think.
  7. Sometimes it can be hard to remain empathic and kind, especially if your going through your own issues but always keep it on the back burner: it’s nice to be nice.
  8. HOT WATER BOTTLES FOR PERIODS (OR ANY SAD SITUATION)
  9. Look up ‘Anne Frank’, ‘Joan of Arc’, ‘Malala Yousafzai’, ‘Mary Shelley’. Listen to their stories and the importance of their voices.
  10. You are loved. Completely and utterly loved. Remember that you have total control over your own story and you deserve the highest level of greatness.
The Teenage Girl Survival Guide: 10 Tips and Truths