By Kate Devine Twitter: @katiedevinee Instagram: @katedevinee
If you know me, you know that I love TikTok.
That silly little app brings me joy like no other.
But recently every time I scroll through the ‘For You Page’ my blood starts to boil. Today, specifically, I am mad. Whether we’d like to admit it or not, we are born and bred in a society that systematically hates women (I’m jumping right into it today, folks). I’m beginning to see this idea being perpetuated all throughout my social media, so I’ve taken it upon myself to deliver a Public Service Announcement that should NOT need to be a Public Service Announcement:
Stop hating teenage girls.
What a concept! Seeing that statement at first glance seems obvious, doesn’t it? Not hating a group of people seems pretty easy, right? Well, for some, this is an inconceivable task.
(Just a forewarning, if you are not familiar with social media figures, it might be more understandable if you take a quick Google search of the following names and trends.)
When opening any social media app, you are bound to find some material regarding VSCO girls. Who are these girls, you may be wondering? Urban Dictionary defines VSCO girls as “those basic bitches, mostly freshmen, who claim (their) messy buns are effortless, wear an additional four scrunchies on their wrists with no intention of putting them in their hair, tube tops, shell necklaces, Birkenstocks, and of course an oversized hydro flask because #stayhydrated.” How dare these girls wear Birkenstocks and use reusable water bottles! The only logical remedy to this disgusting epidemic is cyberbullying obviously!
No one has a right to publicly criticize someone for not being original. Who gets to decide what is original and what is not?*
Point blank- the hate against VSCO girls is not about basicness vs originality. It is about teen girls existing in a way that we don’t want them to.
The real problem here is not the VSCO girls, it is the people who think they have a right to dictate how girls should act.
I understand if right now you’re thinking; Jesus Kate, did you wake up on the wrong side of the bed this morning? To answer your question, I guess I have been waking up on this side of the bed my whole life and am just starting to realize it.
Teen girls are going to be penalized no matter what they do, no matter how they behave. The VSCO girls trend isn’t the only place where we see this bullshit of hating girls for being themselves; it’s a trend throughout all social networks.
Let’s take Kenzie Ziegler and Jojo Siwa for example.
Do these names sound familiar? If you remember the iconic reality show of our childhood “Dance Moms” then you know that these girls have been in the public eye since they were children. At roughly the same age, these young women have built somewhat of an empire in the social media industry. Apparently, this permits us to critique everything about them.
A classic example of our society trying to have teenage girls conform to their ideologies of a perfect girl is the classic phrase, “She should act her age.”
Excuse me while I go vomit.
JoJo Siwa is sixteen years old and never ceases to wear a high ponytail with a not-so-subtle bow at the top. Everything she wears and owns is brightly multi-colored and most likely bedazzled. She’s content with her choices, because they make her happy. However, she is constantly ridiculed for ‘not acting her own age’.
On the other end of the spectrum is Kenzie Ziegler, a fifteen-year-old whose Instagram depicts her sporting cute swimsuits and modeling the trendy poses we see throughout our feed. And yet again, she is told to ‘act her age’.
Imagine how much more productive your day would be if you stopped hating teenage girls for being happy/confident and if you stopped hating teenage girls for merely existing? Or is that exactly what as a society we don’t like to see? (Tough pill to swallow, but… swallow it.)
These social media influencers have spent the majority of their childhood in the limelight. I want you to take a second, and think about everything you have done between the age of 12 to the present day.
Now imagine if you had millions of people watching you- scrutinizing your every move.
It may seem like the “harmless” ridicule of young women online is all fun and games, but it doesn’t take a genius to understand that there is a person behind the screen.
For the people reading this thinking that social media is the problem:
Social media isn’t toxic buddy**- you are.
I also find it necessary to comment on the fact that the social media figures I talk about in this piece are white and wealthy. So just imagine the backlash people face who don’t conform to these factors. The hate against VSCO girls (and teenage girls in general) only offer us a mere glimpse of what marginalized communities in our world face every single day. Eliminate these stereotypes and think for yourself. Realize that assigning negativity to someone’s existence is all kinds of f-ed up.
The essence of what I’m trying to say is that next time you go on TikTok (or any form of social media for that matter) and you see a teen girl not “acting her age”- don’t be an asshole.
And let kids be kids.
*- Unless you steal tweets/jokes- then you’re an unoriginal piece of shit.
**- Not even directed at me and I’m feeling #triggered