Struggling as a teenage girl

Lily FitzGibbon, guest columnist

I wouldn’t wish being a teenage girl on my worst enemy. 

On every app, there’s an influx of anti-aging creams, microtrends, and unachievable beauty standards. Natural becomes unnatural. Preying on and fueling women’s insecurities to sell products—especially with the increased importance of social media in everyday life—has become prevalent and incredibly disheartening to watch unfold. 

Throughout the years, we’ve seen the emergence of categorization for the purpose of scrutiny. Teenage girls are further separated by labels, like the “cool girl”, the “drama queen”, or the “manic pixie dream girl”. These two-dimensional archetypes we’re corralled into make us suppress our own personality because it’s all we’re presented in media.  At the same time, being “basic” and following those trends is a death sentence. 

Even if you are different, whether in an attempt to diversify yourself or just out of preferences, you’re called a “fake”. 

I’ve played multiplayer video games for my entire life, and insults are slung left and right, ranging from “make me a sandwich” to an explicit depiction of violence and sexual assault. I’m lucky enough that my gender isn’t the most identifiable from my voice, so I often resort to pretending I’m a little kid playing instead. 

The difference in treatment I get is staggering, and it’s depressing that I even have to use that alternative in the first place. But when you complain, you’re told you should expect things like that in a Call of  Duty lobby, that you’re sensitive and the harassment is your fault, and it stings as it hits you; those guy “friends” participate in and perpetuate this behavior. 

 As empathetic as some men might try to be, they’ll never truly comprehend it. 

One of the hardest things to realize is that sometimes those who are the hardest on girls are other girls. I’ve witnessed women joining in with the harassment, falling victim to the I’m not like other girls mentality that just further isolates and divides. We need to break free of the cycle of prejudice, especially directed towards ourselves.

It can be difficult to find allies among other teenage girls. The notoriety for “girl gossip” is one that doesn’t fall flat, and it’s easy to find yourself sucked into the hatred. I’ll admit that I’ve been a part of it. It’s easy to bandwagon to hide one’s own insecurity, but it often doesn’t lead anywhere. 

Being a woman is not easy in the slightest, so we have to learn to play the hand we’re dealt. The best way to do that is to look out for yourself and others. 

Put yourself in others’ shoes, whether it be high heels or Dunks. Find solidarity and companionship in the other teenage girls because we have to stick together. Be a support system, and learn to dismantle the preconceived notions we’ve developed, because though our specific situations may differ, no one is alone in the struggle.

 After all, girls just want to have fun, so try and make it easier to have fun.