North Texas Daily

Teenage girls do not deserve the hate they get

Teenage girls do not deserve the hate they get

Teenage girls do not deserve the hate they get
February 11
09:02 2020

Many teenage girls suffer from a crippling lack of self-esteem. All-encompassing insecurities are so commonplace within this demographic that society fails to register them as a problem. In fact, the media regularly and remorselessly vilifies teenage girls for characteristics that the patriarchy instilled in them.

Teenage girls in TV and movies are frequently portrayed as boy-crazy narcissists who prioritize sex and personal grooming over familial obligation and basic human decency. Horror movies such as “Friday the 13th” and “Sorority Row” are notorious for employing these tropes and subsequently killing off the characters that encapsulate them.

Implying that teenage girls deserve to die for engaging in sexual activity is both insidiously misogynistic and decidedly hypocritical. The media sexualizing these children while simultaneously condemning them for promiscuity ensures that teenage girls will never escape public damnation. Similarly, the vilification of boy-craziness by an institution that emphasizes the importance of finding love, almost exclusively in content geared toward girls, is contradictory to a ridiculous extent.

Girls have femininity thrust upon them at birth, but even as some face ridicule for not adhering to this concept, those who have no problem embracing femininity, such as Regina George in “Mean Girls,” are depicted as superficial and stupid. Femininity is hated because society associates it with women and LGBT men, which is also why many men dread being characterized as feminine. Some teenage girls choose to subvert these expectations because they genuinely have no interest in practicing femininity, but some do so because they are desperate to avoid emulating girls they have been taught lack substance.

I have never met a teenage girl entirely unconcerned with her appearance. TV shows such as The CW’s “Riverdale” frequently casts attractive young adults unmarred by puberty as teenagers, warping their teenage viewers perception of how they should look and sanitizing the crime of pedophilia by failing to remind viewers, including impressionable teens, that the characters in question are technically children.

When the media deigns to acknowledge the existence of fat women, which is a rarity, the characters as a rule are not presented as attractive nor intelligent, and serve as either pity cases, hulking bullies or comedic relief. And yet, female characters who obsess over their weight, regularly wear makeup and frequent the mall are depicted as shallow, self-absorbed and simpleminded.

Many of these contradictory tropes are also applied to adult female characters, but are decidedly more vicious when projected onto their younger and more vulnerable counterparts. This is a form of grooming in which society whittles down girls’ self esteem during their formative years as a sort of a prolonged patriarchal hazing ritual. Teenage girls are fat shamed so they will become thin women, sexualized so they will be sexually available and encouraged to perform femininity so that they are more likely to adhere to other gender roles that are inherently oppressive.

The condemnation of all these characteristics by the media serves to deflect blame onto their victims and ensure that these problems are never addressed on a larger scale.

Teenage girls are exactly that, just teenagers. The process of preparing them for adulthood should not involve depriving them of this childhood, gaslighting them into embracing objectification or grooming them to be the women men want them to be. Being a teenager is supposed to be hard, not traumatizing.

Featured Illustration: Olivia Varnell

About Author

Rachel Card

Rachel Card

Rachel Card is a junior majoring in public relations and minoring in sociology. She was born in Austin, Texas, and is currently quarantining there with her family and three dogs.

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