#LetsTalkAboutIt: Teenage Girls

#LetsTalkAboutIt: Teenage Girls

I struggled to pick a topic for this issue, because there are so many things I could be using my voice for, but decided that, in the end, it’s best to talk about something I am passionate about. Something that I could represent well. So, I would like to talk about teenage girls, because more attention should be given to them and the ways in which they’re changing the world.

Being a teenager is always considered a rather tumultuous aspect of life. In broad terms, most of us recall, perhaps with some embarrassment, that we liked certain fashion trends, we always kept quiet about menstruation (when it was the case) around other people and maybe some of us even liked Twilight. I did, too, and it wasn’t the realisation that the content is harmful to women that stopped me from being a fan. Rather, it was the ridicule I faced from other people as soon as Twilight was in the public eye. Growing up, I noticed so many things go from being popular to being mocked by other teenagers and adults alike: boybands, Starbucks, makeup, selfies and everything else that young girls enjoyed. And for a long time, I saw nothing wrong with that, not even during my early, baby steps into feminism.

I assume that the moment I hit my twenties was when I took notice of all this because I finally drew a clear line between myself as a teenager and myself as an adult; and, consequently, other teenage girls and myself. I noticed that people reserve a special tone for teenagers. Teenage girls are never old enough to know themselves and the world, they are always too shielded, too brash, too foolish and never wise.

Adults often complain that teenagers these days are growing up too fast, but fail to realise that the blame falls on the way young people are socialised. A fourteen-year-old wearing makeup is a result of having polished adults play teenagers in films. It’s a result of having every article that is about teenage girls sexualize and mock them in the same breath. By now, a lot of us are aware of the language reserved for women in general: most of their worth resides in a woman’s looks or sexuality. However, the same kind of language being applied to young girls presents an even bigger problem: sexualizing minors, supporting rape culture, destroying self-esteem and so on.

However, for the past years, media has been awash with incredible stories that prove young girls are fighting against labels used to limit or cage them.

Young girls are often brushed off when in fact most of us have something to learn from them. I am humbled by Malala Yousafzai’s wisdom and love for knowledge. I heard Amandla Stenberg’s voice loud and clear when she said Don’t Cash Crop on my Cornrows, only to receive a huge amount of backlash, to which she stood up proudly. Every day, young girls show that they have something they want to change about the world and they act on their beliefs despite being belittled and criticised at every step. I have seen teenage girls discuss racism, cultural appropriation, sexuality and gender with a maturity and passion for social justice that I did not possess when I was their age. It’s inspiring to see young women who know themselves and what their place should be in the world, and I believe the rest of us should not only encourage this, but also learn from it.

But young girls who are not ready to fight or who have been socialised by today’s harmful notions should also be supported, instead of degraded. At the end of the day, the way society treats teenage girls will be harmful; the choices girls make are for the whole world to criticise.

One ray of hope is the fact that more and more teenage girls are speaking out against this, proving that they don’t need the older generation to speak in their place. And I am glad to witness our society slowly shifting forward thanks to their brave, strong voices.

I am proud to be joining their conversation.

Written by Alina Bojescu

Images via  http://voiretmanger.fr/, Dazed Digital, live.worldbank.org, and Hype Hair Magazine

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