By Cali Carss
Over the last 60 years, the world has seen many pop culture sensations take the entertainment industry by storm – making names for themselves and establishing new styles of fashion, music, etc.. Many of these superstars have a secret ingredient to their success that people often overlook: the teen girls who propelled these artists to the status they are recognized for. Throughout history, we have seen that teenage girls often have a profound impact on pop culture, whether in fashion, music, dance, theater, among other things. The earliest large-scale example of this people point to is Beatlemania . The Beatles’ dedicated fanbase of mostly young girls brought them incredible success in a very short period of time.They went on to become one of the most successful bands of all time, butbefore their widespread popularity, their young female fanbase was constantly ridiculed for liking them.
This cycle of ridiculing the fandoms of teen girls is not uncommon. Society continually invalidates and demeans teenage girls simply because of the things that they like, making them feel like the things they are passionate about aren’t worthy enough to be considered valid interests.
This judgement manifests itself in many different ways. From outright public ridicule of fanbases as a whole down to a simple “I can’t believe you like that” from a friend, teen girls usually realize very quickly that they can’t win. No matter what they’re passionate about, they will be met with some disapproval or stereotype. This is particularly true when it comes to music. If a teen girl likes an older band or genre then she’s constantly quizzed on them or told she can’t be a “real fan”. If she’s a fan of less mainstream music then she’s often told that she’s trying too hard. If she likes mainstream popular music then she’s “basic”. The torrent of disdain never stops.
Being constantly told these things can wear on anyone’s patience and self-esteem. Being made fun of for things you find comfort in feels awful and ultimately makes people more closed off about their interests. I think the worst part is that we’re conditioned not to question it. When someone brings up how much people ridicule ‘stans’ in the media, you’ll often get responses calling them “crazy.” It’s important to note that many people often never say that if the group in question was a male majority. Men being passionate about something is always encouraged — just look at sports fans. They do essentially the same things stans do, just for a team instead of a band or group. And yet, the media coverage on them is so different because sports fans are more commonly men.
Allowing teen girls to have safe spaces is incredibly important. As people grow and develop, it’s natural to seek spaces where they aren’t judged or pushed aside. We as a society are actively hurting teenage girls by taking away or mocking these spaces simply because we might not see the value. Being passionate about something harmless like a band or actor should be celebrated. It’s heartbreaking to have something that genuinely makes you happy invalidated so often and so easily. The fact that that feeling is so commonly experienced by young girls truly reflects how society has failed to protect them.
It’s important that we recognize that the teen girls aren’t the problem — we are. There are no downsides to treating teens as if they’re people with valuable opinions; and it’s honestly shocking how many people, including people in these teens’ lives, truly feel as if they have nothing to add.
Obviously, this is not a change that happens overnight. These sentiments are ingrained in our society and habits are hard to break. However, putting effort into valuing teen girls would really help them feel less isolated and self-conscious about their interests and passion. As mentioned earlier, being passionate about something you like should never be a source of shame. All that mindset does is connect the two feelings, making girls feel like they can’t outwardly express their passion without immediate pushback. Efforts to change this could help more young girls come out of their shell and not be afraid to chase their own happiness.