There are stereotypes and judgments made about every age group, but perhaps none more criticised than teenage girls. Labelled as hormonal, hysterical and obsessive, teenage girls are often hated purely for having a passion, but what have they done so wrong?
Teenage girls are the backbone of many fandoms. These are fans who spend a lot of hours (and money) investing in their favourite music, books or films, engaging in every way possible. They often know almost everything about their idol’s life, consuming every form of media content related to them.
Yet teenage girls are scrutinised again and again by the public, the media and those around them, causing a deep hatred for these young fans. Though such judgments upon demographics rely on stereotyping – particularly in relation to gender – it is important to note that it is never accurate to merely group fans by age, gender identity or any other criterion.
Hating on teenage girls for enjoying anything is not new. This perhaps first came to light during the Beatlemania craze in the 1960s when the Liverpool based band began to rise to fame. This represented one of the first examples of a modern-day fandom within pop culture. With the continued success and national treasure status many Brits now give The Beatles, why did people ever write them off as teenage girl hype?
This craze once again resurfaced with One Direction in the 2010s. With One Direction’s global success, it is clear that music predominantly targeting teenage girls can result in major mainstream success. Yet bands, such as 5 Seconds of Summer, have previously stated their desire to appeal to fans who aren’t teenage girls, believing that ‘real’ bands have a wider (and probably older and masculine) audience.
Interestingly, though many well-renowned artists initially rose to fame through their fanbase of young women (notably Elvis and David Bowie), these early phases of fans are often written out by history, with many forgetting where their success originated from. The Beatles are just one striking example that it isn’t the content teenage girls like that people feel trendy to hate, it’s the teenage girls themselves.
Another favourite to add to the list of ‘things teenage girls love therefore we should all hate’ is YA romance novels, or more precisely John Green. His novels such as The Fault in Our Stars, Looking for Alaska and Paper Towns have been popular books (and later films) among teenage audiences. Yet Green has been severely criticised for the content he produces, content which often resonates to young teenage girls, exploring rebellion, love and mental health in his narratives.
Other YA novelists have been similarly undervalued due to their target audience, in addition to the belief that YA books aren’t ‘proper books’. Though this stigma is slowly changing; thanks to increasing demographics reading YA novels, they are becoming more popular in mainstream literature. With more adults reading YA novels, books which have been popular among teenage girls for years are finally receiving the praise they deserve. The content itself is unchanged but now there is a voice promoting it that isn’t coming from young girls – there is a voice ‘worth listening to’.
But no one media product has received quite as much hate as Twilight. The vampire series became a big hit with young girls, with this popularity becoming apparent when the film adaptations were released. At one point, it became almost a trend to hate on Twilight, largely for no reason other than because the target audience was teenage girls. People see this as a genuine reason to dislike something, without even giving the content in question a chance.
What is so special about teenage girls?
While young men are allowed to enjoy hobbies without many arguments, young women opting to partake in these exact same hobbies are belittled, mocked or labelled as attention-seeking. Girls are shamed for liking typically girly artists such as Ariana Grande while simultaneously being mocked for liking typically more masculine music genres such as rock or punk. If they take a liking to a ‘man’s’ interest such as football, they will undoubtedly be questioned and ‘tested’ on their knowledge, being forced to prove themselves to ‘real’ fans. But these interests are not themselves hated upon; it is the young women who are. In short, teenage girls can’t win no matter what they do.
These young girls are taught that their opinion, hobbies and likes are not only unworthy but also laughable – this often being expressed by older men who feel they are the embodiment of ‘true’ fans. Maybe teenage girls are often targeted with so much hate for their passions because they are seen as an easy target. This is just another example of everyday misogyny that affects women, with their interests and opinions not being taken seriously. And on top of this, these are children, arguably the least powerful age demographic in society. But these people are not ‘easy targets’, they are not any less worthy because of their age or gender, and they have proven this by their constant dedication despite the hate. They deserve to be treated with the respect that other fan bases are, or at least treated without the disrespect they currently experience.
Although dismissed as stupid and pathetic, there are studies that show these intense obsessions and fan bases are linked to forming networks with likeminded people, their fandoms being the basis for this. The infatuation of celebrities is further explained through the romantic and sexual feelings which become apparent during the teenage years, teenage girls allowing themselves to test their feelings by crushing on celebrities they will never meet. Therefore, these teenage girls aren’t clueless or stupid, they are in fact figuring out the wider world in their own safe spaces – a useful tool for their later life.
It is always okay to dislike a film, singer, or any other creative, but it is not okay to do so merely because of the demographic of fans it attracts. Teenage girls obsessing over a new book, band or film is completely harmless and probably doesn’t impact you. There must be a reason why so many young women love things like Twilight, One Direction and John Green novels, so why write them off completely? You might be missing out.