Liberti have spent all of October celebrating International Day of the Girl Child – a day set up to raise awareness about gender inequality and promote girls’ rights. We’ve given advice to our younger selves and explored what it would look like to treat ourselves like a small child. We’ve also been interviewing the girls themselves; having hilarious chats with tiny humans and delving deeper with some awesome young teens. For our final blog of the series, we talk to some impressive and thoughtful young women – Nancy, 16, Amy 17, Chloe W, 17, Chloe P, 18, Abi, 16, Jessica, 18 and Hope, 17 – about what it’s like to be a teenage girl today.
Amy: That’s quite a hard question actually. Perhaps the fact that we can express emotion more openly than guys?
Abi: Yeah I agree with the emotions thing. One thing I thought of is that it’s nice that we can wear makeup, because it’s then easier for us to cover up insecurities and “dress up” by changing our makeup. But then again there’s an expectation that girls have to wear makeup, and often people become reliant upon makeup in order to feel good about how they look. It’s a bit up and down really being a girl!
Amy: Yeah I agree there too. Also there’s not as much of an expectation for us to be successful, but I’m not sure whether that can be interpreted as good or bad?
Abi: I’m not sure if I’d agree with that. In my experience I’ve found that (maybe) because of feminism girls are expected to work even harder? Boys are almost expected to muck around, but girls are seen to be much more mature.
Amy: Yeah that’s true actually, like in school girls are more expected to be sensible.
Abi: Then again men are expected to have careers while women are still expected to be wives and mothers alongside having a job.
Amy: Yeah, a woman wouldn’t be ridiculed for being a waitress her whole life, whereas a man probably would.
Abi: Definitely, but to me I’m not sure if that’s good because it shows society expects less from us. It’s weird really, because we’re expected to do better at school, but expected not to do well in careers.
Amy: Yeah that’s what I thought. Another thing is that girls have a wider range of acceptable hobbies I guess?
Abi: Yeah we don’t really have the “haha that’s gay/for girls” thing to put us off things.
Amy: Exactly. We can do sports if we want to and apart from a few sexist comments it’s alright. And we can be nice to friends etc. without being called “gay”.
Chloe P: I know this sounds silly but I like that it’s acceptable to be scared of things like spiders.
Chloe W: What to look like/what not to look like and the pressures on girls. And warped images of the perfect figure/look in the media.
Amy: Periods!!! And bras are expensive. I’m not really sure how to put this into something that sucks, but in my further maths class there were three girls and 12 boys?
Abi: I want to reiterate the periods thing. They suck. And double standards are annoying. I think this sums it up:
Chloe W: Adverts suck.
Abi: Anything in the media really.
Amy: We have to give birth. And our opinion isn’t valued as much as we get older
Chloe P: I don’t know if this applies to anyone else but not being allowed out alone when it’s dark.
Chloe W: Yes! My brother is 12 and he’s allowed out until the street lights turn off but I’m not and was never allowed. Because he can “stand up for himself” – but he’s 12!
Chloe P: I just wanted to go for a walk to get some fresh air the other day at 6:45 and I was told to be quick because it was getting dark! Even at 7 I felt like I shouldn’t be outside because that’s what I’ve always been told, but if it was summer I could be out at like 9 and it wouldn’t even be getting dark and it’s fine then. I don’t mean to make my mum sound really overprotective because I don’t think she is but even when I’m at work and don’t finish until 10:30 she’s a lot happier if I’m working with a boy than another teenage girl.
Jessica: I can relate to that. Another thing that sucks is the expectation of having to have shaved legs and armpits all the time and perfect eyebrows, make up, hair etc. The list goes on, but to be honest who has time and money to do all of that the whole time?
Abi: The leg shaving thing is so true, I gave up shaving my legs for Lent this year and everyone judged me for it. I think that one of the worst things about being a girl though is that girls are really mean to each other. We don’t support each other like we should, instead we’re quite bitchy and judge-y.
Chloe P: Yeah I agree like in changing rooms and stuff. I doubt guys get such judgemental looks from other people.
Amy: Yeah I agree. It seems girls are always in competition as well, but then again I feel like girl friendships have stronger bonds?
Abi: Maybe. I think guys and girls are equal on that one.
Abi: Jesus is probably the obvious answer but other than that I would say Michelle Obama. She’s a great public speaker, very humble and uses her position of power to do good.
Jessica: Misty Copeland; she’s the first African American female principal dancer of American ballet theatre. She’s just insane. She defied all odds and got to where she wanted to be.
Chloe P: Nick Vujicic – his attitude to life is amazing! I wouldn’t say hero though, just someone to look up to.
Abi: There’s a lot less pressure on boys about how they look, talk, behave, act etc. But double standards make life for girls a lot harder, because it really doesn’t matter what you do someone will always find fault in it. Guys definitely experience the same sort of thing, but nowhere near the extent girls get.
Abi: Plus, periods and childbirth and general uterus stuff makes everything a little more difficult!
Nancy: Also, there’s a lot more pressure on girls to look good all the time than there is on boys.
Chloe P: I feel like boys get a harder time if they don’t act manly but girls don’t get as hard a time if we don’t act girly, if that makes sense?
Abi: There’s definitely a stigma around boy’s behaviour. Sometimes girls are ridiculed if they act “too tomboyish”, but not like boys are when they act “too girly”.
Amy: I think sometimes girls are just treated like sexual objects. At college lots of the more immature guys are always making jokes about women’s bodies.
Abi: Definitely, and I think the objectification starts a lot younger with girls than it does with guys.
Amy: It’s funny because some girls do it as well to other girls. I feel like you can never get it completely right either being a girl, like whatever you enjoy you’re going to get ridiculed for it in some way.
Chloe W: But I also feel that it is a lot more socially acceptable for girls to objectify guys. Like if I said to one of my friend “look at him he’s so fit” no one would think anything of it and the guy wouldn’t particularly acknowledge it, but if it was said to a girl it would cause a lot more problems.
Amy: Yeah that’s true. Maybe because girls are seen as harmless.
Abi: I think that stems from guys being perceived as “weak” if they are offended by or hurt by a girl. Like if a guy was to complain about a girl checking him out, he would be seen as pathetic
Amy: Yeah he’d be told to take it as a compliment.
Chloe W: And I know there is so much more pressure on girls but at the end of the day we can only see it from a girl’s perspective. Girls are always put in the spotlight when it comes to body image problems etc. because it’s clear how much we are affected by it but if a boy becomes open about how adverts or pictures make him worry about his weight and stuff I feel society would laugh at him and tell him to man up. Girls have it really hard but it needs to be made clear that so do guys.
Amy: Yes definitely. It’s almost got to a point where women are being more empowered than men actually. Although I do have to say, my ideas in maths sometimes aren’t taken as seriously as all the guys ones are.
Abi: I think individual women are rewarded for being empowered because women as a whole aren’t empowered but men as a whole have the upper hand (generally speaking) so when an individual guy isn’t as empowered he seems weak.
Amy: I want to be a teacher.
Abi: I want to study History and Politics at Cambridge, be a history teacher and then when I’m a lot older go into politics. I also want to be a wife and mother one day, but my career would come first.
Nancy: I want to be a medical officer in the navy.
Chloe W: I literally don’t have a clue! I don’t even know what I want to do tomorrow let alone in like a year/ten years.
Liberti: Do you worry about that?
Chloe W: I massively worry about it. College just expects you to know exactly what you want to do but as I don’t have a clue they have struggled to advise me and point me in the right direction. And because my options cover such a range of subjects it’s not as if they narrow down my choices so it just makes me feel like I’m doing something wrong and I should know. I feel like they think that because I don’t know what I want to do I have no ambition so they don’t help me as much. But I do have ambition and want to be successful – I just need to find the right thing!
Jessica: I would love to be a dancer to begin with and then go into dance teaching, but yeah I feel so much pressure to know what I want to do with my life. I’ve just decided for now to just do what makes me really happy and that’s dance. I’m trying not to worry about it too much because everything will happen for a reason and God has a plan so his plan will happen whether I become a dancer or not and it may be hard but will be ultimately for the best.
Chloe P: I don’t really know either, maybe like a child psychologist or something like that? I want to go to Uni and study psychology so that’s a start.
Amy: Maybe that you will figure everything out in the end and don’t worry about “having to have a boyfriend”.
Abi: Yeah, boyfriends are overrated.
Hope: That’s true don’t worry about not having a boyfriend because it doesn’t define you plus I’ve gone 17 years without a boyfriend and I’m FINE. I know God will figure someone out for me one day.
Jessica: This sums it up for me: