In today's pop culture landscape, it seems that teen girls can't catch a break when it comes to pursuing their interests and passions. It's as if they're trapped in a never-ending loop of judgment, where every move they make is subject to scrutiny. It's time to unpack the ways in which these societal judgments strip young girls of their autonomy and diminish their confidence.
Hating on what young girls love or admire is the epitome of a deeply rooted misogynistic culture. This toxic mentality stems from an antiquated notion that attaches shame and a condescending label of "girliness" to everything young girls hold dear, whether it's princesses, the colour pink, or icons like Taylor Swift. First off, let's tackle the pervasive idea that enjoying activities typically associated with masculinity, like gaming, automatically lands you in the "pick-me" category, as if you're only doing it for male attention. It's an exhausting double standard.
Why The Double Standards For Boys And Girls?
Teen girls should be free to explore their interests in video games without being labelled or shamed. But it doesn't stop there. If a teen girl expresses an interest in makeup, she's often met with derisive comments implying that it's not a "real" hobby, or worse, that she's somehow being inauthentic. This not only undermines her passion but also perpetuates the stereotype that femininity equates to superficiality. An environment where young girls are almost invariably ridiculed for expressing their passions, no matter the form.
Picture this: Boys can revel in their interests and hobbies, from sports or action-packed blockbusters without batting an eye. The society welcomes their enthusiasm as an expression of masculinity, allowing them to celebrate their passions without fear of judgment. However, when young women exude excitement for anything that falls under the "girly" category, say The Eras Movie or a new Taylor Swift Album, they are swiftly branded as simpletons, lacking depth, and stuck in basic mode.
As men scream their lungs out at the TV during a football game, it's perceived as their genuine passion. But when women scream in ecstasy at a concert of their favourite band or music artist, they're accused of being hysterical and deranged. The double standards are stark, and it's high time we confront this bias.
How Shaming Leads To Decline In Confidence
It's incredibly disheartening because it feels like anytime they show an inkling of interest in something, it's never taken seriously. Their passions are deemed inferior, almost childlike. Bands with predominantly young female fan bases are brushed aside as frivolous, but if the majority of fans are male, they are hailed as revolutionary. Girls are unfairly labelled as dim-witted or mindless followers simply because they enjoy a popular 'girly' media, be it a music artist or a film franchise.
When teenage girls wholeheartedly embrace something, society hastily paints them as obsessives. These stereotypes don't just undermine us; they make it an uphill battle for women to be taken seriously. And they instil a paralyzing fear in young women, preventing them from openly discussing their interests as it comes with all forms of shaming and labels.
This ongoing cycle of shame and judgment prevents young girls from fully enjoying their interests. It makes them question whether they are allowed to be passionate about something or if they are, indeed, "obsessive" or "dumb." These harmful stereotypes box them into narrow, predefined roles, stifling their growth and self-expression.
What we urgently need is a cultural shift. We must take young girls seriously and respect their passions, no matter what they are. Encouraging and supporting them in their hobbies, be it gaming, makeup, fashion, or any other interest, is vital. This is how we raise the next generation of confident, self-assured women who are unapologetically themselves. Let's dismantle these judgmental stereotypes and make space for girls to thrive and explore their girlhood without the burden of society's expectations weighing them down.
Views expressed are the author's own.
Suggested reading: Exploring Friendships Through Fandoms: Power Of Shared Passions