An Ode to the Basic B*tch

Walking past the local Starbucks, I notice a leggings-clad teenage girl sitting outside, sipping a venti pumpkin spice latte (cautiously, so as not to ruin her lipstick), and staring at her iPhone. People who have never met her exchange judgmental glances, and I know exactly what they are assuming: she’s just another twenty-first century air-headed teenage girl. These passersby assume she has never cracked open a dictionary in her life; the only dictionary she needs is Urban Dictionary. Her speech must be riddled with “like”s and “OMG”s, and she probably reads Cosmopolitan daily but never the Wall Street Journal. Why do people assume that acting like a teenage girl and having an incredible brain are mutually exclusive? The truth that everyone is too afraid to admit is that teenage girls and young women are a force to be reckoned with. They decide which artists are worth playing on the radio and they decide which political issues are the most important (just think of the influence of Zendaya and Amandla Stenberg). But despite the unquestionable power of teenage girls, society still teaches them that in order to be intellectually and socially competitive with men, they need to act more like men.

So how can we, as young women, fight against these commonly held beliefs? We can start by no longer saying that we “aren’t like other girls,” as if not being like other girls grants us more credibility. The reality is that when girls try to distance themselves from “other girls,” they are inviting boys to agree that femininity only means drama and a lack of intelligence. Girls should stop trying to disassociate themselves from each other, and instead focus on lifting each other up. We need to stop forcing girls to label themselves. Women are multi-faceted and we can't keep pretending that they can only be one thing or another. We need to tell young girls that they can love Barbies as well as Legos, preteen girls that they can watch Keeping up with the Kardashians and read Lord of the Rings, teenage girls that they can subscribe to Cosmopolitan and the Wall Street Journal, and young women that they can be moms and doctors. Most importantly, we need to tell every girl that she has the strength to accomplish anything she sets her mind to, as long as she believes she is just as capable as anyone else.

 

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