lifestyle

Stop freaking out about teenage girls doing this.

It’s time for you to lay off our daughters.

By GRETEL KILLEEN

The Experts have announced that pressure to conform is turning young women into self obsessed, supercilious, nincompoops and clones. Well, I’ve had enough of your expert blurts. It’s time for you to lay off our daughters!

Don’t get me wrong. I think many ‘young women’ are self obsessed etc. But the difference between me and The Experts is that I think many members of my generation are self obsessed too.

In fact I think I’m self obsessed, and I think the experts are as well. What could be better proof of this than their  willingness to judge entire generations as inferior.

So why then is my daughter’s generation the only group that is singled out as the embodiment of narcissism and the epitome of futility?

Well perhaps because The Experts are faceless and women like me (working mothers who haven’t slept for 25 years) tend to be invisible, while the behaviour of young girls tends to be so very ‘look at me.’

Yes, in their short skirts and skyscraper heels they’re screaming for attention. But is that any different to my youth, when we sang ‘I Will Survive’, at the top of our lungs on the local train, hoping that someone would discover us? Throughout time young women have cried: “Look at me! Notice me! Validate my existence!”

The reason why it appears so writ large nowadays is simply because the mediums are so damn in your face.

Are we raising a generation of clones? Yes, but we always have…

In days of yore, we sang into hair brushes and  strutted in front of a mirror. Nowadays, girls sing on YouTube and take Instagram ‘selfies’. But, other than the size of the audience, it’s really the same as it’s ever been.

Nowadays, girls permanently straighten their hair with a four hour process using Japanese potion. In the late 1960’s my cousin used to spend four hours every Saturday straightening her hair with an iron, not a curling iron, an iron! (NB: Do not try this.)

Today’s young women are not a generation any worse than any other. Their behaviour does not signify the demise of the species. They simply have different tools at their fingertips than in our day.

ADVERTISEMENT

When I was young we tattooed our boyfriends’ names on our ankles using a compass and a biro, we tried to pierce our ears using a needle, and we stuffed our bikini bras with tissues (which may I point out is not a good idea  if you’re planning to swim. )

Of course things have become somewhat more drastic and permanent with today’s boob jobs and Botox and lip enhancements, and the recent revelation that some girls were being promised these as an incentive to do well in the HSC. But it’s important to note that the financial source of these incentives was actually the parents.

Yes, that’s right, my generation.

We criticise our girls for conforming while we are highly likely to be conforming ourselves.

Young women today are maligned as being vulnerable to the whims of celebrity, but the most important influence in your daughter’s life is, and will always be, you. Both positively and negatively.

Of course it has astounded me that this generation with the ‘world as their oyster’  has not seized the mantle of uniqueness and authenticity, but my astonishment has also led to certain realisations.

1. No matter whether Gen X,Y,Z, Boomer or beyond most young females are, or have been, deeply insecure and want to fit in.

2. Most young females think that they won’t be liked if they’re different. AND

3. Very few young women actually have role models who are uniquely expressing themselves through their appearance, expression of goals, or pursuit of passions in life. Perhaps ask yourself, are you?

Oh yes, that’s right; we criticise our girls for conforming while we are highly likely to be conforming ourselves. We criticise our girls for being superficial, at the very same time that we superficially judge them. And as soon as they try to do something to express their individuality we tell them to toe the line, we tell them to behave, we tell them to conform. And all the while The Experts are telling them they’re losers.

Maybe it’s time for us to think about our contribution to the young women of today. What are we uniquely wearing or thinking or valuably doing with our lives that gives us permission to judge the individuality and worth of others.

Gretel Killeen

In her colourful career Gretel has been a best selling author, film director, TV host, journalist, voice artist, doco maker, radio host, public speaker, social commentator and stand up comic. Next she is thinking of becoming a neuro surgeon but in the meantime Gretel is writing a play about the lies of love. You can visit Gretel’s website here and follow her on Twitter here.

Light blue and pink butterfly illustration. You click, we help. Shooting star illustration.

Mamamia is funding 100 girls in school, every day.

So just by spending time with Mamamia, you’re helping educate girls, which is the best tool to lift them out of poverty.

Thanks for helping!

Light blue and pink butterfly illustration. Girl with pigtails sitting at desk writing in notebook. Row of four books.
Three hands holding books
00:00 / ???