Let me set the scene for you. It was a crisp Sunday night inside Fenway Park, the Red Sox were playing the Yankees and unfortunately losing miserably- but that’s not the point of this story. I stand in front of the field next to my friends, posing for a picture being taken by another group of similarly aged girls whose picture we had just taken. Out of nowhere, this man in his mid-twenties (in a Yankees hat I might add, just saying) feels that it’s his duty to inform us that “Instagram doesn’t matter you know.” We roll our eyes. “Oh, I know,” my friend responds, as I chime in with, “but it’s fun!”
Photo credit: Canva
Unfortunately, this situation is all too common for young girls. Our interests are reduced to vapid, mindless trends which we follow like moths to a flame, incapable of critical thinking or complex analysis. Our music is silly, our clothes our tasteless, our interests and passions offer nothing to society and require little intellect. But, thank god for the grown men who waltz in to inform us that our taste is stupid and immature, and one day we will outgrow these foolish flights of fancy when we’re older and realize how stupid we are, am I right!
This idea that teenage girls have little to offer society and that our interests have no value or merit (as well as being a gross overgeneralization- we are a multitude of unique individuals), is a constant reminder of the patriarchal ideas that rule our society. The second girls decide they like something, it is instantly made fun of and seen as basic or shallow (see for reference; leggings, ugg boots, Starbucks, boy bands, the dog filter on Snapchat, and social media outlets like Instagram and VSCO to name just a few). Society makes snap judgments on the teen girls who follow these trends labeling them as dumb, immature, sluts, and incapable of good taste.
The “VSCO girl” is just the newest iteration of this trend. Do you like oversized t-shirts, scrunchies, polaroid pictures, hydroflasks, and kankens? Well, then you might be a VSCO girl! As a society, we for some reason have a need to look down upon young girls for following popular trends, writing them off as basic or foolish.
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However, we rarely see this phenomenon with boys’ interests. Girls are praised as “cool”, “unique”, and “not like other girls” for liking things that are primarily male interests, while men are shamed for liking anything that could be considered feminine. You always hear men talk about how they wish they could find a girl who liked sports and video games and just be “one of the guys”. But you never hear women talking about how they wish they could find a guy to watch fashion week with. Girls are expected to give up their interests and conform, but we don’t expect that of men.
Photo credit: Word Press
When Harry Styles – formerly a member of the popular and wildly successful boy band One Direction – went solo, he was asked by Rolling Stone if he was worried about proving himself to an older, more mature crowd, and if he was concerned his fanbase of primarily teenage girls would drag down his reputation. His response to this question was perfect, and something that a lot of people need to hear, as he stated, “Who’s to say that young girls who like pop music – short for popular, right? – have worse musical taste than a 30-year-old hipster guy? That’s not up to you to say. Music is something that’s always changing. There’s no goalposts. Young girls like the Beatles. You gonna tell me they’re not serious? How can you say young girls don’t get it? They’re our future. Our future doctors, lawyers, mothers, presidents, they kind of keep the world going. Teenage-girl fans – they don’t lie. If they like you, they’re there. They don’t act ‘too cool.’ They like you, and they tell you. Which is sick.” (Harry Styles, Rolling Stone 2017).
Photo credit: Rolling Stone