Young Readers’ Edition: How to be a teenage woman
Teenage blogger Rachel Fleminger Hudson exposes the main issues concerning school-age women today, some of which are explored in more detail in our Young Readers’ Edition - in the style of famous Crouch Ender Caitlin Moran
Teenage girls are the most complex of all beasts, but I wouldn’t necessarily put that entirely down to the raging hormones flowing through our veins.
The shift between childhood and womanhood is difficult enough, yet it seems that society is unable to keep their paws off of even the most delicate of transitional periods.
Between the ages of 11 and 18, a girl has the enormous task of creating an identity for herself and learning to create and express her own views.
This burden alone is one of mammoth proportions – how can anybody be expected to do this, if society is putting constant pressure on them to strive for perfection in everyday life?
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Although a lot of this pressure is self-inflicted by our feverish adolescent brains, I believe that society has a lot to answer for.
This unrealistic obsession with creating a nirvana filled with glossy, academically achieving, socially conforming sirens, is the nasty offspring of an idealistic society and a fantasy-intoxicated media.
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Whether it be her appearance, performance at school, social life or mental stability, there seems to be this huge urge amongst girls to become a perfect person. A frankly disturbing amount of pressure is placed on young girls at the moment they leave primary school.
This desire to become the paragon of our time is accentuated by the flow of images, ideals and news stories that flood our lives every day.
At school we are told to perform well academically, yet still to maintain a creative and healthy lifestyle.
The competitive atmosphere of any school brings to mind the phrase “Be the best, beat the rest” – so one would think that school cares more about academic progress than the appearance of its pupils.
Yet it also seems that model students are compelled to have perfect uniform, appropriate hair and un-ripped tights, thus proving that perfection in appearance is also deemed “important”.
At home and on the internet, we are bombarded by a tumult of different images portraying supposedly “perfect” women.
A recent survey of my friends showed that most would ideally like to be between a size 6-8, with sizeable assets, a small waist, long legs, long hair, clear skin, straight white teeth and high cheekbones. Astoundingly, the image which therefore springs to mind is virtually one of a Barbie doll.
Society places a phenomenal amount of pressure on teens and this can often trigger anxiety and other stress-related illnesses.
In 2014, one would think that society and the media would recognise these problems and seek to offer a caring environment for young women, yet it seems as though the media is determined to continue wreaking havoc.
Recently I read a horrific article on a misogynistic website, entitled “5 Reasons to Date a Girl with an Eating Disorder”.
Despite the article receiving a huge online backlash, the fact that young women are exposed to articles like this is damaging enough.
Many young girls – especially when placed in a single-sex environment like many north London private schools – find it difficult to come to terms with such material and can develop destructive ideals within their fragile minds.
And I really do mean fragile. Essentially, a fresh-faced young girl is just the initial fragments of her future self. If this process is disturbed by the pressure to achieve perfection, then how is any young woman meant to develop?
Teenage girls also face pressure from her friends and peers to follow the impossible social normalities of our time.
Girls are expected to conform and fit in, yet to have their own individuality and niche which they slot into.
Girls are deemed “frigid” if they choose to abstain from sexual activity but are branded a “slut” if they decide to. Girls are seen as boring if they don’t go to parties but wild if they go to too many. Likewise with drugs and alcohol.
Each “rule” seems to have this invisible, undetectable line which girls are meant to find and cling onto, trying not to swing too far either side of it.
These social guidelines are basically impossible to follow and none of them takes into account the most important feature of a person – their personality.
If people don’t accept you for your true nature and idiosyncrasies, then there is no point trying to change who you are in order to manufacture a friendship with them.
The best friendships are the ones where you can lie in silence with someone, enjoy each other’s company and eat pizza. Disgustingly cheesy but true. Forget social boundaries.
Forget the pressure to be perfect. Forget that your slice of pizza has 300 calories in it. This isn’t Village of the Damned, this is real life.