The Radical Kindness of Teenage Girls

Girls are constantly pitted against one another. One female celebrity can’t rise to fame without the media claiming they’ve “ended someone”. Succeeding as a woman in a still relatively-patriarchal society is difficult enough. The last thing we need to do is convince women that they can’t get there with one another, that they have to be ruthless and self-centered in their pursuit of greatness. This being said, I don’t want this to be another article about the woes of the glass ceiling. I want this to be a testament to one of the most powerful, yet slighted demographics I know of: the teenage girl.

Teenage girls are perceived as vapid, materialistic and catty in the majority of media and culture that we see. Growing up, people are taught to idolize the mean girl. She is painted as perfect, untouchable. Girls are taught that the way to get power is to claw your way to the top and create a tyrannical rule in whatever hallway, lunchroom, or sports team that you reign over. Movies like Mean Girls and Clueless perpetrate this stereotype by portraying nice, individualistic girls as losers while having mean, glamorous girls be the envy of everyone. Of course, in the end, the nice girl usually ends up “winning”, but it’s undeniable that these movies prey on making the down-to-earth character look like she’s miserable with her life of normalcy.

However, I have yet to experience such radical kindness from anyone else than I have from teenage girls. No matter the setting or the familiarity, I have never been let down by the women around me. If you’re in line and need a tampon, every girl knows the struggle. Odds are you’ll have five girls checking their purse and at least one offering you tampon immediately. I’ve had countless girls step in to save me from an overly forward guy when I’m out. And we all know that your biggest fan is the girl you run into in the bathroom. She’ll give you the confidence you need, even if she’s never met you in her entire life. Being in a space with other girls is being comfortable talking about your shared insecurities, the emotions you’re scared to deal with, and anything that you’ve ever cared about- be it the latest Netflix special or the latest State of the Union address.

Rolling Stone asked Harry Styles about his predominantly teenage-girl fanbase as if it was something to be ashamed of. Styles responded with, “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.’" Honestly, where is the shame in loving something just because you love it? When did detached emotions become en vogue? If I’m lucky enough to find something that I love and connect with, why stifle that appreciation?

I won’t lie, I’ve experienced my fair share of girl drama- there's no denying that it exists. But I also know that I’ve never experienced the same level of support, love, and unconditional camaraderie than I have from the girls around me. When it comes down to it, we have each other's backs. We get slighted for our pop music taste, affinity for makeup and clothes, and whatever else people can think up. The truth is, nothing makes me feel more complete than spending time with other kick-ass women. Whether it’s doing finance homework or watching rom-coms, there’s an omnipresent specialness about being surrounded by other teenage girls. And I think that should be appreciated. So to my sister, Lexi, to all my friends (especially you, Alexis), and to all the girls that I’ve bonded with on a random day- I love you, keep doing you, live ya best life.