The inaccurate and stereotypical portrayal of teenage girls in the media


Gabby Lancaster, Editor in Chief

Women’s expectations in society have been defined and redefined countless times.  However, it’s teenage girls that bear the brunt of these expectations.  Such expectations have been exclaimed and raised to a bar so few women can actually achieve and yet, it’s this bar that the media has chosen to expose and highlight.  
There’s a certain stereotype that accompanies these expectations and although it’s easy for some to ignore during their day to day conversations, it’s easily recognizable in the entertainment industry.  Television shows and movies have a very particular way of depicting teenage girls as mean, attractive and selfish.  
“In movies, I feel like girls are typically depicted to be very stereotypical and basic in a way that there is always the specific cliques in schools or their activities and they always seem to create some sort of drama along with being dramatic and overly emotional,” senior Serena Sirchio said.  “Female characters tend to all be quite similar, and not too many teen movies or shows can create complex characters that are genuinely relatable to teenage girls.” 
This portrayal of teenage girls, not only in the media but also in entertainment, is derived from the gender roles that society has implemented. There’s a clear emphasis on teenage girls’ love for shopping and makeup, as well as their distaste for sports. There’s also an added focus on these teenagers’ sexuality.  “Riverdale,” a popular drama show from the CW network, featured an episode where a 16-year-old girl performed a strip tease in a bar in front of men of all ages.  
While this kind of depiction is not uncommon, and for viewers at home, some may be oblivious to the influence scenes like this possess.  Part of the reason is due to the fact that teenage characters are never actually played by real teenagers.  In fact, the actress who performed the strip tease was 24 years old.  Even in “Mean Girls,” Rachel McAdams famously played teenager Regina George when she was actually 25 years old.  In another classic movie, Stacey Dash played 15-year-old Dionne in “Clueless” when she was 28 years old in real life.

Teenage characters never look their age in entertainment productions because the actors aren’t teenagers.  Although due to child labor laws, adult actors may be necessary in some cases, however, consequences arise.  This false depiction of what teenagers, specifically girls, look like  creates an unrealistic expectation of beauty that’s unreachable for its viewers.
“This portrayal makes my life seem so boring, and it makes me more upset when the things I want to happen so badly don’t happen… these girls get everything they wish for and more,” senior Megan Lozito said.
The inaccurate portrayal of teenage girls in television shows and movies, and the unrealistic events that happen to them, sends a harsh message that women are still as stereotypical as they were in the 1950s; however, today’s generations’ fights against gender norms and stereotypes prove that change is happening.
The feminist movement and the modern idea that women are equal to men, don’t separate feminity and masculinity and the traits that coincide with each.  Teenage girls aren’t necessarily just needy and bratty, they’re compassionate and smart.  
“Feminism has definitely opened up the media to a view that women aren’t just how they look or present themselves.  It’s their intelligence, strength and confidence that make them unique,” senior Ryann Wall said.  “It has made girls like who they are in their own skin rather than trying to be someone else.”
The media’s view of teenage girls and the portrayal of them through characters in different entertainment forms are almost never accurate but rising feminists are now opposing these insulting depictions through their unwavering faith in their awareness and strength.