As the next generation, we’re supposed to be smarter, faster, prettier and generally better than the one before us. This is especially true for teenage girls, and I believe that teenage girls are under too much pressure.
I’m not saying girls can’t undergo tons of pressure and make it through, nor am I saying that we’re not strong enough to do so: I’m only saying that life as a teenage girl presents more stress and pressures that threaten to explode on us at any time.
As a girl, we’re expected to be pretty, sweet, dainty and nice to everyone, while on the other hand, be expected to be athletic, strong and fiercely competitive on the sports field and in the classroom. You’re not told what’s expected of you; you’re just supposed to know what people expect. You’re expected to be well rounded, intelligent and outgoing; you’re supposed to have the whole package. Oh yeah, and also be flawlessly perfect on top of it.
So as girls, we’re held up to impossibly high standards, and sometimes we don’t even know what they are to begin with.
We have expectations to make straight A’s and have the most perfect gentlemanly boyfriend; we should stay in and study all the time, but on the other hand go out with friends and be social, but of course we should never party; you wouldn’t want to ruin your reputation. Let’s be honest, doing it all is impossible; we can try to do everything perfectly, but that’s just not going to happen, so that’s why people should stop holding girls to such impossibly high standards.
The pressure itself comes from many different sources. While like everyone else, girls get a significant amount of pressure from school, friends and their parents, the pressure can come on a larger scale, like from the media and looking at celebrities as role models. Because society has such a specific idea about what “the perfect woman” should be like, girls try to live up to unrealistic images. For example, a girl could feel upset over not looking like a female celebrity, and become stressed over it, while a boy probably won’t worry over not looking like his favorite football star.
Society expects perfection, and girls are put under extreme amounts of pressure that could line them up for a higher risk for problems like depression or eating disorders because they’re unhappy with themselves and try to change to fit society’s demands.
Sure, it may seem like these are just run-of-the-mill teenage complaints, but you should worry about these complaints. They demonstrate the all too real amount of stress to be perfect and please everyone. This overwhelming need to please can lead to disturbing clinical labels like obsessive dieting, hatred of themselves and the overwhelming feeling that they just aren’t good enough.
So next time a girl seems stressed out, don’t just attribute it to “teenage angst” take a step back and think about all the things the average girl has to deal with. Try taking a walk in her shoes.
–By Meredith Norman