When a girl explores her teenage years, she is filled with enthusiasm, hope, and curiosity. Unsurprisingly so, because everyone at this age is still in the process of maturing their personalities and discovering their interests. Girls are often interested in trends during this age of development but instead of letting these underage girls pick and choose what they’re interested in, they are met with hostile reactions from society who deems them as ‘silly’ or ‘stupid’. Their interests are invalidated because people don’t believe in ‘phases’.
There are too many examples that can accurately depict how this system functions in society. Teenage girls get ridiculed for liking even the most basic things. Why do you think boybands or YA novels like Twilight get so much hate? It’s simple. The answer is because their fanbase and audience consist mostly of young girls who kickstarted their popularity. For example, when The Beatles first started their careers, their music was geared towards young women so they weren’t considered as serious artists by other people who were not their fans. They were mocked endlessly and people called them a joke. However, when adult men started listening to their music during their experimental era, they were suddenly culturally relevant. In retrospect, regardless of the era, the song comes from, people say their music is some of the greatest of all time. This is not only very hypocritical but also points towards a serious issue of our deeply rooted misogynist way of thinking and judging.
People are ridiculed for liking things that are associated with teenage girls as if everything with that label is bad or poor taste. An example includes Kpop groups who receive the worst media attention not because of their artistic skills but because of the fans they have generated. Even a novel like The Hunger Games which has thought-provoking political themes is not taken seriously because it is classified as a YA dystopian novel. If a girl is into a specific trend, she is immediately categorized into a certain stereotype society has laid out for her. The ‘VSCO girl’ meme is an example of this. Something as harmless as liking aesthetics and photography was seen as a joke because young girls’ interests have long been invalidated and disrespected. Boys who play sports or video games are also not as nearly ridiculed as teenage girls who do the same because ‘they just want attention.’
All this hate towards girls who are just harmlessly trying to search for their identity is so common that they themselves have developed internalized misogyny. This is where the ‘pick me’ trope started. Girls don’t want to be like other girls because they would rather be on the opposing side than victims of hate, whether they are consciously aware of it or not. They think it’s cool to aggressively hate on things other girls like because society does it to them. The sad thing is that even these ‘pick me’ girls who just want to escape from unwarranted hate cannot do so because the trope has already been turned into a meme. Instead of perpetuating more hate towards these girls, we should educate ourselves about the frameworks of this cycle, and how such internalised misogyny in young girls came to exist.
The sad reality is that being a teenage girl means learning to balance between not being too ‘basic’ while simultaneously not being too ‘quirky’. This is very hard to do when your interests will always be put into one category or another. Of course, the things girls like are open to criticism because a lot of YA books and movies do have problematic storylines but the thing is that when a grown man hates that particular book, movie, or artist, he usually doesn’t care about that aspect. Most people will target it simply because since teenage girls like it, it must be stupid or shallow. People who do not have a valid reason or their own critical opinion for hating such things are the main problem as they will jump any bandwagon just to shame girls for having interests.
Everyone’s personal interest is valid during their preteen or teenage years. This is still a stage of development where we are trying things out and seeing what works for us. To unnecessarily hate on a person’s interest simply because we find it annoying or because other people do so can ruin a person’s self-esteem. Instead of fighting over what classifies as ‘good taste’ and ‘bad taste,’ we could try getting rid of these notions and simply letting people live.