What is it like to grow up as a female in today’s society?
Being a girl in general is not easy, but being a teenage girl is even harder. It feels like there’s a constant expectation that has to be met: look this way, feel that way.
When I started high school, I was always comparing myself to other girls, and sometimes I still do. If you live your life trying to be like someone else, nothing will ever feel right.
Our high school years are some of the hardest mentally, too.
Obviously gender doesn’t determine whether or not one suffers from depression or anxiety, but it is more common in teenage girls than boys. Some doctors say this is due to girls maturing faster; therefore we are more vulnerable to these feelings.
For me, I think it has a lot to do with the social stresses put on girls. As humans, we want validation and acceptance from those around us, and that can affect our self esteem and confidence in a major way. For us girls, I think we try really hard to be good enough, pretty enough, and smart enough.
For as long as women can remember, they have been seen as inferior to men. This has caused women to have to prove themselves to anyone that sees them as different. You’re only a teenager for so long, so you can’t waste your time trying to prove yourself to people who probably don’t even care.
I think you have to reach a point where you love yourself for who you are, and you realize that you are good enough, in every way.
Growing up as a girl in today’s age is obviously easier than it was for the women that came before us. We don’t have to fight for the right to vote, for equal education, or any “real” barriers keeping us from our male counterparts.
However, this does not mean that growing up as a young girl is a walk through the park. There are a plethora of societal barriers that are holding young girls back from their full potential.
Throughout my entire life, I’ve felt a pressure about having to be a certain way. I have to be smart and level headed, but not smart enough to threaten my femininity. I have to wear clothes that are in style and that are flattering and feminine, but I have to make sure I’m not showing too much of any part of my body.
It took me awhile to actually realize these inconsistencies in the standards for boys and girls. I can thank my parents for that, for always encouraging me to be unapologetically me, and to not necessarily have to fit to these stereotypes.
Just because I was in this environment at home, doesn’t mean that it’s like that everywhere. Some of my earliest memories of this unfamiliar judgement were in a school setting. Being told to act “ladylike” was a very common statement that was pushed upon myself and my friends.
At the time we were embarrassed and ashamed. Were we not ladies anymore because we would rough-house and play pretend outside?
It’s taken me an extended amount of time to realize that women, as a whole, are held to societal standards that are dangerous and detrimental to one’s vision of themselves.
One of my favorite sayings is, “There is no wrong way to be a woman.” I try to remind myself of this consistently and empower myself and other girls to continue to encourage each other to be the best we can be at whatever we want.
No matter the connotation it comes with.