Being a teenager has never been easy, no matter your gender. It is a vital part of your transition into adulthood, you go through puberty, through friendships and through figuring out who YOU are. However, this article is concerned what it is like being a teenage girl in 2020.
Regardless of your age being a female is hard, with expectations on how we should behave, dress and even look. It can sometimes be too much. Especially with the rise of social media, with apps such as Instagram that set the beauty standard ridiculously high it can be a challenge to remain confident within yourself , constant reminders of the “ideal” body type being plastered all over the place , it is difficult to escape what society feels is expected of a female. Which obviously would not have a good effect on a teenage girl, who is experiencing changes in many parts of her personal life. it comes as no surprise that social media has an impact on body image. EmotionMatters, London’s leading therapy centre for mind and wellbeing states that: “Studies show that 88% of women compare themselves to images they observe on social media, with over half of them emphasising that the comparison is unfavourable.”
I interviewed a few of the female students that attend my college. A lot of them brought up some of the obvious hardships of being a teenager in 2020, like the effect that social media has on them. For example, 16-year-old Marwa from North east London used American socialite Kylie Jenner to express her view on how images on Instagram can affect a girl’s self-worth: “when you see all these Instagram girls, like kylie Jenner, I find myself saying wow her body is so nice, wow look at her shoes, I want them. I feel that it makes girls, who don’t think that they are as pretty, feel like that is how they are expected to look and why don’t I look like her.” Marwa also spoke on the idea that a girl cannot dress up and look nice unless its for someone else. From the age of 13, she has experienced “unwanted attention” from people due to the fact that she is “showing skin”. She even finds herself second guessing what to wear when going out to dinner with friends because she knows people will look at her. It’s a shame that a teenager cannot be truly free to wear what they want and feel good about themselves because it is automatically assumed that she’ is “asking for attention”.
However, it is not just body image and keeping up with society’s beauty standards that are some of the struggles that a teenage girl may face. When you are young, you are more creative, looking to find something that you are passionate about. it could be singing, dancing or even a sport, that may be something you really enjoy.
Part time actress Neveah has been acting from she was about 6 years old. she has featured in adverts, appeared on a CBBC show, took part in plays and has been apart of photoshoots for a football team. Acting is something that Neveah is enthusiastic about, but like everything, there are some disadvantages.
WITHIN THE ACTING INDUSTRY HAS ANYTHING EVER HAPPENED THAT HAS CAUSED YOU TO SECOND GUESS YOUR APPEARANCE?
“There have been castings for mixed families and I have auditioned , usually the majority of the girls are Caucasian with curly hair, it just makes my chances slimmer as they are more likely to be chosen as they “look” the part. The anxiety is crazy, and it can be very demotivating.”
The entertainment industry is known for being cut throat, with runway models having to maintain a certain physique, sending across the message that if you don’t look like that you could never make it in the industry, is very disheartening to many people and needs to be changed sometime in the near future. Reality TV shows like Americas next top model, showed a lot of people how challenging the industry is and it is not for the fainthearted.
A-Level student Emily, from North London, is passionate about becoming a singer, modelling being something that she would have wanted to try “she is too insecure.” when I asked her why she said:
“I would be too insecure because of how I have view myself, from a young age due to what I had seen in the media. Which is why I feel that it is much better growing up now, compared to 2010, as society is trying to be more inclusive. I was insecure from like the age of 10. Which is really upsetting”
One of the main things that have deterred her form pursuing music is that from what she has seen , a lot of women can only make it if they are “oversexualized” , she doesn’t understand why should she have to be half naked in order for people to listen to her music? She has more to offer than her body.
The modelling industry may have its downsides, but it has helped to empower some of the younger girls in this generation. Standing at 5’10, is 16-year-old Rose, who over the years has learned to love and embrace her height. She did note that: “naturally guys tend to like girls who are shorter than them, probably because it makes them feel more masculine. But if a girl is taller than them, they may feel emasculated because they feel small.” But she is not concerned with boys at this moment in time, she is focused on herself.
She feels as though a lot of the negative comments she has received about her height have come from short females, “how will you ever find a husband? You’re like a tree.” comments like that had a negative impact on her when she was about 13, she would slouch and never leave the house because she felt like an “alien”. Nonetheless, she has now overcome those insecurities and now she views her height as beautiful. Also “the fact that a lot of these models are like 6’ft also made me feel special, if these girls are tall and are considered to be so beautiful that they’re paid to walk on runaways and take pictures, the doesn’t that make me beautiful too?”
Which is why I praise artist such as Billie Eilish, stepping away from what society expects a woman in the entertainment industry to be, with her baggy clothes, people are able to actually hear her voice and listen to what she has to say. Rhianna also, who has really defied social expectations on what it means to be beautiful with her Fenty line. Her brand includes women of all races, sizes, and ages. Through her doing this, she sets the hopeful tone for what society could potentially be like. A place where we all feel accepted and are no longer trying to keep up with the latest beauty trend, where the young girls especially, are not pressuring themselves to look like the women they see on the internet. it is a great reminder that social media is nothing more than a perception of someone’s life, and that no one or nothing is effect, no matter how much you photoshop it.
Thankfully not every teenage girl allows the tedious barriers of society to stop them for doing what they want to do. Sade, a 16-year-old girl from south London, admits that some of the “requirements” she is expected to have do sometimes affect the way she views herself. With social media influencers and celebrities, like Jayda wayda and rapper lil baby, promoting a lifestyle which appears unattainable unless you have a rich rapper to take care of you the idea of a young woman’s desire to achieve something on her own is almost alienated due to these standards – it doesn’t take away the expectations she has of herself. “I expect myself to be successful, help take care of my family and breaking through the obstacles set in place to restrict young women”.
This outlook of her living her own life the way she wants and not how society dictates is a great part of her journey on becoming a fantastic woman. And I think that if society gave more credit to the realistic and natural sides of beauty maybe less teens would suffer from body dysmorphia or just low self-esteem. The bar is set at an unrealistic level and instead of working together to bring it back down or even better getting rid of it all together, we are encouraging it.