Teen Girl Bashing

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Issue 1, Volume 112

By Anisha Singhal 

Cover Image

Moody, ditzy, and dramatic: those adjectives characterize the common stereotype for teenage girls, a group more openly bashed for their interests and behavior than any other. People throw around the phrase “teenage girl” as an insult and constantly mock our behavior. Our genuine emotions are categorized as hormonal sensitivities, leading to a lack of emotional validation for teen girls. Everything from the way we speak and the things we wear to the music we listen to is belittled merely because it is associated with us.

When imitating a teen girl, people often spew out a concoction of high-pitched giggling, dramatic “OMG”s, and filler words such as “um,” “like,” and “you know.” Though such speaking styles are looked down upon, research has found that such filler words actually reflect more conscientiousness because the speaker uses the time to carefully reflect on the conversation and what to say. While teen girls tend to use filler words more frequently, the backlash they receive for it is unwarranted—they’re just being more thoughtful.

Besides speaking patterns, teen girls get the most amount of backlash for their interests. They were the driving force behind The Beatles’ popularity, who are now renowned artists and admired musicians. However, their predominantly female fanbase was undeservingly criticized for being “too obsessive” and characterized as crazy, screaming maniacs. The belittlement of teen girls’ interests starkly contrasts the encouragement of conventional teen boys’ interests. Boys can be just as obsessive over sports and video games as girls were over The Beatles, but their interests are never bashed as intensely as girls’ interests are.

The cycle of hating teen girls’ music taste didn’t end with The Beatles. Today, music by award-winning artists like Harry Styles and BTS is dismissed as silly and substanceless just because they appeal to the teen girl audience. While their music is catchy and relatable, teens who enjoy it are mocked as hysterical fans for simply enjoying their content. And the artists, though popular, are perceived as less serious musicians because people assume that the only reason girls like them are for their appearances. Their appeal is multidimensional: both Harry Styles and BTS challenge constructs of toxic masculinity and sing about a variety of meaningful topics like self-love, heartbreak, mental health, and self-discovery. Having a majority teen girl fanbase should not be a demeaning quality, especially considering that teen girls are constantly shaping the future of the music industry.

As seen with music, the moment teen girls start liking something, it gains a negative reputation. Fila shoes, Kånken backpacks, and Hydro Flask water bottles became popular among teen girls for their practicality and aesthetic appeal. But once they became trendy, they acquired the degrading “basic” title; girls who used the products were shamed for trying too hard to fit in. Meanwhile, boys can wear trendy clothes and sneakers that appeal to a male audience, and no one thinks twice about their decision to wear the same clothes as each other.

The way girls choose to look is constantly criticized. Social media has put a large emphasis on a woman’s appearance and has promoted the use of makeup to fit conventional beauty standards. Teens use makeup for a variety of different reasons: to accentuate their features, cover up blemishes, feel more confident, and express themselves. But when they do so, they are called fake and told they are trying too hard. While it is socially acceptable for grown women to wear makeup, teens are told they are too young for a face full of products, even though makeup has no age restrictions. While we should encourage young girls to develop a healthy relationship with makeup, they should be able to choose how they want to present themselves without judgment.

Teen girls get so many mixed signals from society: fit in, but do not be basic. Follow trends and be knowledgeable about popular culture, but do not actually enjoy them or become a fan. Teen girl bashing is rooted in a culture of misogyny. It is important that we learn that it is okay to enjoy popular music, use filler words, buy trendy products, and wear makeup. We do not have to try so hard to avoid fitting into the stereotype. In fact, we should take pride in teen girl culture. After all, we did make The Beatles famous.