I’m sticking up for you • ep. 91

Tween or teen girls riding bikes and scooters outside smile at the camera.

Enough Making Fun of Girls

You know I’m a hype girl for you girls. Along with that, I will also fiercely defend you. There’s been a lot of noise lately about tween and teen girls’ fixations. I’ve seen posts, articles, and videos criticizing and even mocking girls (please don’t Google them). Sure some have witnessed girls being rude customers, and shoppers–no matter their age–should treat businesses, their products, and their employees with respect. But I’m talking about making fun of girls for being curious about, interested in, and even obsessed with certain things. These critics are trying to get laughs and views and shares all at the expense of tween and teen girls. And I do not accept that.

We Shopped Just Like You

For starters, sure I’m bugged by the criticism from guys; there’s a whole episode’s worth to discuss another time. But it’s especially disappointing to see women ranting about girls–fellow females who were once tweens and teens themselves. I grew up at the same time as them. And we went shopping, too! Girls today wander Sephora looking for skincare and makeup. Back then we also sought out skincare and tested samples at department store makeup counters. Girls today are obsessed with Drunk Elephant Bronzing Drops and Sol De Janiero creams and sprays. Back then we were obsessed with Lancome Star Bronzer, Cucumber Melon lotion, and Love Spell body spray. Girls today want Kendra Scott jewelry. Back then us girls wanted a Tiffany heart toggle necklace (or the dupe). Girls today carry Stanley cups. Back then we didn’t carry drink bottles everywhere, but we did carry a purse with our first initial on it. Girls today have to have Doc Martens, UGGs, and Nikes. Back then we also had to have Doc Martens and UGGs, and KSwiss white sneakers. My point is, we were not so different from you. And so I don’t understand why women are making fun of, and even ridiculing, tween and teen girls today.

We Struggled Too

Because not only did we have similar behaviors back then as you girls do today, we also had similar insecurities, self doubt, mental health struggles, and body image issues. Some of us still have them now, years later. So we can relate to you; we know what it was like being in middle and high school. We may even remember who said and did hurtful things to us. And we shouldn’t be turning around and doing the same thing to you. Adolescence is already tough enough. Surveys by YPulse and Être showed that during the tween and teen years, girls’ confidence tanks 20-30 percent while their stress surges 241 percent. We already know you girls struggle. Why are adults tearing you down when we should be building you up?

We Started the Obsessions

Another point to consider is that, from a very young age, kids notice what others do and they mimic it. In psychology this is called observational learning, and it’s a natural part of growing up; you are aware of and curious about the things people around you are doing, and you try them, too. While some trends do start on social media, I feel girls’ obsessions with Sephora and Stanley Cups and Lululemon originated from women’s obsessions with them. Girls noticed women engrossed in anti-aging skincare routines, girls watched as we tracked down new colors of drink cups, and girls heard us rave about our buttery soft leggings. Girls saw us women obsess over these things in-person and online. We modeled these behaviors for you, and naturally, you followed our example. Women bear some responsibility for these fixations. And if women want to poke fun of each other for fussing over these things, fine–but we should not be mocking you girls.

Turning to Social Media

Some argue that social media has made girls care too much about their appearance, thanks to influencers and Get Ready With Me videos. While I don’t completely disagree, can we take a step back and examine a few things? Sure, girls look to social media for guidance because they want to stay on trend and fit in (see episode 88). Perhaps another reason girls turn to social media for skincare advice and makeup tips is because they feel they can explore their interests and experiment with styles without being judged or mocked or dismissed. When girls see some adults trivialize the things that are important to them, when they hear adults complain about girls’ obsessions and make fun of their excitement, girls get the message that adults won’t take them seriously or show them respect. They lose trust for adults and instead turn to other sources, like social media, for advice.

Lots of Work to be Done

And you know I’m not promoting social media; the amount of garbage on there far outnumbers the enriching content. I think app developers need to do way more work to protect youth–girls especially–from harmful content. These companies know they’re making you girls feel bad about themselves. But they don’t care about your well being as much as they care about earning more money by keeping you on the app longer. Governments have not yet caught up with ever-changing technology to regulate social media so it’s a safe online community for minors. And not enough schools offer media literacy and digital citizenship education for students. Plus many parents and adults give kids access to smart phones without also teaching how to/not to use them; without setting up safeguards, restrictions, and limits; and without continually checking in and having conversations with their kids about these devices.

What I Wish Instead

I wish that, instead of making fun of girls for their interests, those adults would do more to support you girls. I wish they’d focus their energy on demanding app developers to stop monetizing girls’ insecurities. I wish they’d pressure their legislators to make protecting kids–especially online–their top priority. I wish they’d encourage their school districts to teach media literacy and digital citizenship. At the very least, I wish they would stop making fun of girls, stop criticizing girls, stop judging girls. Instead I wish they would mentor girls, encourage girls, and support girls in whatever they’re interested in. People say girls can be anything, but when girls try, they’re often told they are doing it wrong. And that’s gotta stop. I don’t want some adult’s insensitive remark about girls to make you feel self conscious, make you second guess yourself, make you hold back or withdraw from something you really enjoy. Like I said, we know the tween and teen years can be tough, and us adults should be there for you. Every girl should have at least one adult in her life that she trusts will accept all of her, from the silly to the serious. And really, us adults should be like your fan club. I will continue to be your hype girl, and defend you when necessary.

I say this a lot and I sincerely mean it: I love you girls.


If you have a topic suggestion, I’d love to hear from you! Send an email (tweens get the OK from your parents) to hello@EmpowerfulGirls.com .

If you have social media already, follow me on Insta or tiktok @empowerfulgirls. I’m not encouraging or endorsing social media, but I’m on there to offer an unfiltered, uplifting alternative to what’s in your feed. Remember to get on the email list for the newsletter!

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