maligned, misunderstood, moods often regulated by a 4 week cycle, prone to staying up late, running in packs, hairy in unexpected places… the list of cliches (and disturbing similarities) goes on. Some of these cliches, admittedly, are true. We are dangerous. We do like tearing things up, and staying up late, and eating odd foods at odd hours. But much like the imaginary werewolves of legend, teenage girls have a lot more to them than what you hear from books and magazines. Before you say anything about us, ask yourself: when is the last time you spoke to a teenage girl as a human being?
I’m a teenage girl, and therefore my in-depth analysis of this much undermined species may be a little biased. But I believe, to the contrary, that my close position gives me a unique insight into their lives. Let’s start with the basics. What do they look like?
Well, the answer is anything and anyone. The only requirement for being a teenage girl is to identify as female and be aged between 13 and 19. That’s it. Between those constraints, everything you do is automatically ‘teenage girl’ behavior. Leading on from that, every aspect of your appearance, your likes and your dislikes, are ‘teenage girl’ things. Congratulations! Simply by existing as a teenage girl you’ve filled these imaginary requirements. Unfortunately, being a teenage girl is not as easy as that.
Due to many factors, including your age and gender, society is out to get you. Not in the pitchforks and angry mob sense that is usually associated with your hairier counterpart, but nonetheless, society has a grudge against you. As well as the usual shit that comes with being a teenager, including stuff like exams and puberty (ugh), you’re a girl, which means that your opinion is taken less seriously, if you have lots of sex people think you are worth less, you are far more likely to get sexually harassed and raped, and you are constantly made to feel insecure and disgusted about the body you inhabit.
Now we’ve got that covered, the most important question is left to be answered: what are teenage girls actually like?
Books and magazines, films and music, tell me that I can be the sort of teenage girl who has low self esteem, who curls her hair, who parties every night, who is in a band, who only ever thinks about clothes and boys, who does badly in school, who does well in school, who plays video games, who wears pink. You have to be one of these things; you cannot be many, or all, or none.
The strange thing is that I know lots of teenage girls, and none of them are like this. My little sister is a teenage girl, and she bites me hard enough to leave bruises and bakes me cookies and is still scared of that scene in Harry Potter. My friends, who are teenage girls, are, collectively: good at making grilled halloumi, passionate, lazy, literary, pretentious, loving, bargain hunters, good at maths, pregnant, not interested in boys, very good snoggers. None of them have ever been written about. No editor of a magazine covered with things we cannot afford and bodies we shouldn’t want to have has ever seen these teenage girls, angry and scared and multi-coloured and myriad in our unclassability.
Do you know what the most important similarity between werewolves and teenage girls is? Neither should be underestimated.