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The Teenage Girls Guide to being Fabulous - by Suzanne Virdee
The Teenage Girl's Guide to being Fabulous
This guest blog is kindly provided by Suzanne Virdee, a freelance journalist and broadcaster, an award winning TV news presenter and author of the book, A Teenage Girl's Guide To Being Fabulous.
It's not easy being a teenage girl in 2015. In fact I'd describe it as a bit like walking a tight rope without a safety net.
On one hand girls are told it is good to be grown up and sexier than ever, but then punished and called vile names when they are. Children's charities report that demands by (mainly) boys to girls to send them sexts, naked or sexy pics of themselves, is seen as the 'norm' by girls now. A newly macho and highly sexual culture is not only encouraging boys to think they are in charge of girls' bodies but also to grow up thinking being female is to be inferior. This creeping misogyny is deeply worrying. It is dehumanising for girls. It seems to me the whole idea of girl power and equality is being replaced by a fake equality.
Instead of turning out a generation of strong, happy, conﬁdent young women who feel equal in society to men, we are in danger of turning out girls crippled with low self-esteem.
I was brought up to believe I was just as good as anyone else, boys included. In fact my mother still recalls the conﬁdent and rather rude way, I dealt with a boy who was refusing to let me through the door into pre-school. The poor boy was probably merely playing but his chants of "you can't come in" and his blocking the entire doorway were dealt with swiftly by me. When it became clear he wasn't going to budge I pushed him over and stomped into the classroom. Not perhaps my ﬁnest moment but he wasn't hurt, more surprised, according to my equally stunned mother. I was feisty and I believe girls need to have that sort of ﬁre today if they are to stop this creeping sexism.
By the way I am not condoning violence. There are many ways to go about this. Firstly, we need to tell girls they are equal to boys and they deserve to be treated with respect. It sounds crazy but I don't think some girls are being told this which is normalising this bad behaviour.
The trouble is society generally seems unwilling to do anything to really tackle this problem. Society just seems to assume girls will cope, or worse they like the attention. Then there's the old saying it's just 'boys being boys'.
It is true the sexualisation of girls will not stop overnight, it's a money spinner for many businesses. It is also true boys will continue push the boundaries unless they are educated as to why they should alter their behaviour.
Just a few years ago and deﬁnitely in my day, growing up was easier. I remember being 13. I felt it was a time of new possibilities and opportunities. Yes, it was sometimes a tricky time too. There were the usual rites of passage such as growing into our bodies, bullies, bad boyfriends, as well as schoolwork and exams but it was nothing by today's standards.
There is also no rule book on growing up to make it easier. Everyone matures at different speeds and messages need to be delivered appropriately. But what we can do right now is help young girls make sense of what's happening around them and empower them to deal with it.
We need to make sure we are turning out a strong, happy, fearless generation of girls who truly believe they are equal to boys. We also need to teach boys that girls are equal to them. If we don't we will not only have let down the previous generations of brave and courageous suffragettes who fought and died for women's rights but also our next generation of girls who will have to ﬁght the battle all over again.
If you would like to buy a copy of the Teenage Girl's guide to Being Fabulous here is a link to Amazon where you can also preview the first few chapters of the book.
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