Each day I read another article about the growing challenges for girls, teen females and women in America. In the August 4, 2017 edition of TIME Health, Rachel Lewis wrote, “The suicide rate among teen girls reached a 40-year high in 2015, according to new analysis from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.”
Researchers found a substantial increase in suicides among teen girls in the U.S. from 1975 to 2015, with the rate among girls hitting a record high. From 2007 to 2015, suicide rates doubled among teen girls. Rachel Simmons, writing for CNN, claims teenage girls are facing impossible exceptions:
In the so-called age of girl power, we have failed to cut loose our most regressive standards of female success — like pleasing others and looking sexy — and to replace them with something more progressive — like valuing intelligence and hard work.
This is tragic. I’ll discuss reasons for this below. What is missing from the reporting by Ms. Lewis and others is the fact while a record number of girls, 5 per 100,000, committed suicide, there were 14 boys per 100,000 who did so as well — nearly three times the number of young females.
Why does America refuse to talk about our boys? I’ve pointed out reasons why White Males are angry. Boys are ignored. They believe America blames them. Seems to be true!
Forums for Women
Huffington Post is a dedicated national platform for women and girls in America. They provide a voice for females and People of Color. Authors discuss a range of topics dedicated to women. Why isn’t there a similar forum for young men? For example, HuffPost gave Guest Writer Hannah Duane a column to talk about cutting her hair. She felt it “made her feel more confident.”
Hannah writes, “For 14 years, I presented as what now seems to me to be an almost painfully traditional feminine female, with long hair and skinny jeans and crop tops, with make-up in middle school and dresses at parties.” She believes she’s been “conforming” rather than developing an identity that fits her.
Hannah considered long hair important to appear pretty and fulfill her subconscious ideas about what it means to be beautiful. Hannah is only 14. She claims she struggled with identity and self-presentation issues the previous year. What teen boy or girl hasn’t at that age? She adds she suffered an eating disorder about a year ago but believes she is slowly recovering, although “it’s not an easy journey.” It’s not an easy journey for anyone in America. The CDC notes 70.7 percent of Americans are either overweight or obese with about 40 percent of U.S. adults and nearly 20 percent of adolescents considered obese — highest rates ever recorded in the nation.
Hannah is not unusual. Why then does HuffPost give her a column? She believes her ideas about appearance need some rethinking and decided the best way to combat those impulses was to “hit them over the head with a sledge hammer. Or scissors. Or a razor.” She chopped off her hair. She changed her appearance.
As Ms. Simmons writes, author of “Enough As She Is: How to Help Girls Move Beyond Impossible Standards of Success to Live Happy, Healthy, Fulfilling Lives,” woman have failed to cut loose “our most regressive standards of female success — like pleasing others and looking sexy.”
Hannah chopped off her hair. When the stylist finished, she says she loved it. Her new look was cleaner, better. She “felt more confident.” She is locked into an external view of herself. At school the following Monday, she said “all the girls loved it.” Hannah continues to seek affirmation from others. She reported a close friend said she looked “too hot to trot,” which isn’t true in Hannah’s opinion, but she appreciated the wonderfully enthusiastic and supportive comment.
Hannah’s not cutting lose the most regressive standards of female success — like pleasing others and looking sexy. She cut her hair and continues the same negative self-examination that led her to be frustrated in the first place. HuffPost furthers a deception for young women. A haircut doesn’t change who you are or what you can do.
Sadly, Hannah slammed a boy for not “appreciating her new look” as she would have preferred. She claims she “felt great” until she got to geometry class. She first finished the assigned classwork and a boy sitting next to her apparently said, “Maybe your short hair is somehow making you better at math.”
Hannah was “disappointed in him.” She pitied the boy. Why? He didn’t recognize her beauty as she wanted, thus the dude was a “bad, rude boy.” Hannah added, “It seems like it’s hard to be a teenage boy right now. It feels mighty to be a short-haired woman.” She now judges others and condescends a young man. Now, Hannah feels mighty! This is what HuffPost writers teach — make yourself mighty by putting others down. Isn’t this toxic behavior?
Too Many Participation Trophies
Hannah has not matured. She is not stronger or more mighty. She remains chained by the opinion of others and locked into an approval-based model due to her outward, physical appearance. Short hair, long hair — makes no difference. What should matter is her accomplishments. Society raised Hannah and girls like her to shun competition. They all received participation trophies, which prevents them from developing self-esteem in deeds and doing. Had Hannah scored a goal in soccer, it would not matter whether her hair was short or long. She would gain acceptance and recognition through accomplishment.
Maybe Hannah isn’t suited for athletics. Possibly she prefers to draw, write, design graphics or build a robot. The what is not important. Hannah will do best when she follows her dreams and does what she loves. She will fail when she worries what others think about her.
Hannah admires Emma Gonzalez, who she considers one of the most powerful teen girls in America. She felt Emma “perfectly exhibited poise and determination” in her powerful speech about the NRA at the March For Our Lives.
Hannah says she doesn’t want to talk about appearance, calling it complicated. Yet she feels Emma looks stunning. Hannah added Emma looks far better than any done-up celebrity because she is real with her cropped hair and black tank top. Hannah believes Emma looks confident in herself, claiming Emma is “terrifically articulate and uninhibited in calling out people in power.” Hannah admires Emma for using her voice, taking advantage of her position and doing it her way, all of which take courage.
Emma uses her voice, takes advantage of her position and does it her way, all of which take courage.
Hannah doesn’t have courage. Many young women in America do not demonstrate courage. Yet millions of mothers and female professionals get up each day — courageously — facing the pressure to be traditionally attractive; wear cute clothes; and demonstrate “bubbliness” with shinny lip gloss. Courageous Women do well in school. Sadly, at least in Hannah’s opinion, they shouldn’t do “too well.” Hannah needs to perform well in school. This is what makes a gal or guy confident — by succeeding where others fail.
HuffPost hurts and holds back girls, young female teens and women. They sell an illusionary doctrine that “mighty girls” are empowered by throwing off the yoke of social demands and pressures to conform, while promoting they should follow the lead of others. Hannah wonders, “Who are your role models going to be?” Emma Gonzales is empowered. She doesn’t dress or behave to please others. She has purpose. She is Helping Others.
This is the disease promoted by HuffPost — the failure of Me, Me, Me. Hannah is mad at a boy in her math class because he doesn’t satisfy her #MeNeeds. When women stop focusing solely on their needs — and begin reaching out to help others — incidents of suicide, anxiety and depression will fall.
Hannah is correct: it’s not easy to be a teenage girl in America right now. It’s not easy to be a teenage boy right now either. Life is hard. Be courageous and help others!
“The truth is we all have the same purpose, and so we should all quit looking. Our purpose is to serve humanity.”
I leave readers with wisdom from Apple CEO Tim Cook when asked what advice he would have given to his high school self, “The truth is we all have the same purpose, and so we should all quit looking. Our purpose is to serve humanity.”
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