After stumbling over a couple of fantastic posts such as Smash It Like A Girl by Mad House Mum, do read, my mind has been awash with thought. There was another incredible post on the pressures boys face but unfortunately, for the life of me can’t find it in my bookmarks or history to reference. She did a previous post in the past on the pressures teenage girls face too. If you do know who I’m referring to please comment so I can edit it in. With these posts ringing fresh in my mind (and clearly a theme forming across the internet), they prompted me into thinking about this area in more depth. Just a word of warning, this is a little bit of a rant post.
We are all well aware we live in an age of technology, smartphones, celebrity trends and media. Easily we can read the latest celebrity news by opening up an app or with a simple search – even Snapchat has introduced magazine/celebrity content to their story feature. Pop culture is ruling. Celebrities bring trends, which go hand in hand with pressures to stay on top of trends in order to stay ‘current’ and ‘cool’. Sometimes this can be an extremely positive thing, raising awareness regarding certain issues and taboo. On the other hand, we can be left questioning certain statements…much like I was.
A few nights ago scrolling through Snapchat stories – whilst deep in battle of re-sleep training which you can read about here (plug plug plug) – I came across an article about a Kardashian/Jenner. Now this high profile, celebrity family is plastered everywhere and frequently feature in tabloids, so this wasn’t at all a surprise to me. The article in particular was discussing an interview with the youngest member, Kylie Jenner, for Complex Magazine. Now before I go on Kylie Jenner has achieved many great things which I deeply applaud and commend, even establishing and smashing her own business empire at the age of 19. Being voted Most Influential Teen by TIME (which I was unaware of until researching, proving my point further down) will hopefully allow her success to positively encourage and motivate teenagers of today – to strive and work hard for their own goals. I truly hope she becomes a role model to our future adults for those positive, incredible reasons as oppose to only appearance based, shallow trends.
I completely recognise that being branded a celebrity does not take away your human right, they are underneath it all still people like you and me; in the full interview Kylie shows this humane side and a little bit of who she is behind headlines by discussing troubles she has faced as a teen. These include anxiety, bullying and pressures she too has felt, hopefully this resonates to teens feeling similar pressures that she is in fact only human, she does and can feel the same as many of us because of similar issues. But back to my point, when browsing through Snapchat I came across a little breakdown of the article. Keep in mind many teens use Snapchat as a platform to socialise, having access to this article just as easily as I did – and being Kylie Jenner, they are most probably going to open it and have a look at what she has been up too. Now, from the get go, this story headline was purely focused on Kylie’s infamous lip fillers which instantly annoyed me as many headlines do and then very quickly, almost instantly included these quotes from Kylie:
‘This guy I kissed was like, “Your lips are really small but you’re a really good kisser”‘
‘From then on, I just felt like I saw guys staring at my lips. I felt like no one wanted to kiss me.’
Reading this, I had to take a moment. Kylie was 17 when she first got lip fillers. Celebrity or not, she was still a teenage girl who felt the pressures of society, the influence to look a certain way and the need to appeal to others. Having read the full article, and can I just say it is definitely an eye opener in understanding her achievements but still the images included focus on the need to look a particular way, Kylie went on to say:
‘Oh, yeah, I got my lips done’? What are all those moms going to think about me? These kids, my fans, they’re going to think I’m crazy. I didn’t want to be a bad influence. I didn’t want people to think you had to get your lips done to feel good about yourself.’
What really irritates me, is why the media grabs your attention by zoning straight in on her lips, relating it to how it can influence the level of attraction and feeling someone has for you. As a teenage girl reading that, I would want to make sure I had full, ample lips (enter the craze of the Kylie Jenner Challenge which she in no way promoted or encouraged by the way – seeing teens attempting to plump lips by sucking glasses, yeah it wasn’t pretty see picture below for proof). Like teens don’t have enough awkward moments in life and mini hormonal break downs about their first puppy love – materialist fads like this don’t need to be added.
I did some light research and discovered that Their Girls’ Attitudes Survey, which 1288 women aged 7 to 21 took part in, discovered that 87% of girls between the ages 11 and 21 thought women were judged more on their appearance than their ability which is only proven when comparing the full article to the snippet I stumbled upon via Snapchat – and one in five girls between 7 and 11 years said they had been on a diet – which is saddening and worrying. You can find the full article on this here.
Why must it always come down to appearance? In this day and age, why is someone who is so current within teens and media, and young herself, being focused prominently on appearance when she clearly she has achieved great success at the age of 19. Surely it’s healthier to have her business and achievements focused on much deeper. How is any young girl meant to feel that their ability is being recognised more than their appearance when headlines like this are everywhere? If you went to any teenager or anyone for that matter, and asked them to tell you one thing about Kylie Jenner, you will probably more than likely get a response relating to appearance. It’s the sad truth. And Jenner isn’t the only celebrity happens with. Appearance, unfortunately seems to be the ‘it’ thing at the moment.
The age we knew when we were younger is very much fading into the distance. Technology is very much a prominent means, I mean I’m typing this on a laptop connected to wifi providing me a wonderful connection to the internet – which as you will agree, a clear lifetime away from our childhoods. With this, social media sees celebrities available to their fans easier than ever and in that more articles reviewing them as products not people are frequently our social media feeds – I’m sure it will only keep developing and ‘evolving’. Sure the world will always have fashion icons and different trends will come and go – but what will our children and teens take from all this information available, especially when it’s a world so focused on keeping up with trends and how we should be looking a certain way. As a mother of a 21 month old girl, it makes me question the kind of pressures, that will be unnecessarily added to her life. Pressures felt more due to media and how celebrities are portrayed. What and how will she feel in 15 years time? Will she be one of those 87% feeling women are judged more on appearance than ability? I hope not. Will she be made to feel her lips have to look a certain way and try silly methods to try and achieve them? Will she still be reading gossip columns focusing on assets and how they can determine whether someone finds her attractive? This applies to both genders too, it’s present and clear across both genders. You don’t even have to look or long to see it.
I hope times will have shifted, movements evolved and that we will see a happier, healthier and safer age of teenagers. Who knows? I guess for now all we can do is support and uplift our dear ones, helping them to understand that beauty isn’t defined by a look or by our appearance – to help open their eyes to learn how to appreciate their own beauty inside and out whilst they mature and develop.
What annoys you most about the world we live in today in regards to media? Will pressures on our teens and selves ever ease?