As a young girl, all I wanted to do was get my belly button pierced and get a tramp stamp. Thank god I did neither. But why were Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera my images of what women should be? They were getting all of the attention over more normal girls like Mandy Moore. So what message are young girls getting now? Should they be super sexy or should they be extremely innocent?
Remember Britney Spears’ first Rolling Stone cover? Seventeen-year-old Britney was lying on silk sheets wearing a bra and tiny shorts. Did I read that cover story on my idol? No. My mom wouldn’t let me buy the issue. Most parents agreed that Britney was becoming way too sexual for a 17-year-old girl. Britney didn’t think she was doing anything wrong. She claimed this was part of her “growing up”, but I don’t know many high school students who dance in a hallway with their shirts tied up. And Britney only got more and more sexual from there (until she shaved her head).
Similar to Britney is “I Can’t Be Tamed” Miley Cyrus. She basically pole danced at the Teen Choice Awards when she was 16, and parents obviously freaked out about her being a role model for their daughters. I can see why a mom or dad wouldn’t want their daughter looking up to an over-sexualized teen. A parent probably doesn’t want to have the argument over and over again about why their kid can’t wear fishnets on a date. Seventeen year olds should be at least a little “tamed” unless their life goal is to be cast on Teen Mom. So if over-sexualized teens aren’t good role models for young women, who is?
Let’s look at the other side of the coin: Sweet and innocent Taylor Swift. Is she a good role model to young women? Ugh. No. She’s stuck in some weird infant stage. While Miley is super sexual, Taylor won’t even acknowledge that sex exists. Her gimmick was cute when she was 16. She wrote songs about high school and boys she liked. I was 16 at the time too, and I could totally relate to everything she was saying.
But now I’m 22, and so is Taylor, but her songs are still about little, innocent crushes with lyrics like, “Uggg, so he calls me up and he’s like, ‘I still love you,’ And I’m like… ‘I just… I mean this is exhausting, you know, like, we are never getting back together. Like, ever.” I would have loved this song if I was between the ages of 14-16, but I’m not. What 22 year old’s worst pain has been “OMG he like doesn’t even like-like me. He just likes me?”
Adele wrote 21 when she was 21 (duh). When I listen to that album, I can feel all of her pain, and I can relate because as I’ve grown up, I’ve been through some tough guy situations (more tough than not being asked to prom by my crush). Adele and Taylor are around the same age, and they probably have had some similar experiences with heartbreak. While Adele’s songs make me cry in my car, Taylor’s songs have no effect on me anymore. If I called my friends and said any of the lines in Taylor’s songs, they would tell me to grow up and get over it.
Why aren’t more well adjusted women in young Hollywood getting attention? Why are there more headlines about Miley getting engaged young and not more about Emma Stone’s seemingly normal and healthy relationship? Emma is funny, smart, down-to earth, and dresses like a normal 23-year-old. She’s not dying her hair platinum blonde and cutting it all off just to get attention (I think we all know Miley is acting out because all eyes are on Liam right now).
Emma even has Ryan Gosling’s approval. He once said, “Show me someone that wouldn’t give it all up for Emma Stone, and I’ll show you a liar.” Even Demi Lovato is a better role model than Taylor or Miley. She’s definitely had her problems, but she’s open about them and writes songs reflecting her actual pain. She isn’t trying to make her life seem like it’s all fairy tales and sparkly dresses (something Taylor Swift and 4-year-olds have in common).
There is a middle ground when it comes to growing up. Girls need to become more comfortable with sexuality as they grow up, but that doesn’t mean they have to pole dance at 16 or not even acknowledge that sex is a thing at all. They don’t have to get engaged at 19, but they also don’t have to act like the only guy problems they’ve ever had are about not being acknowledged in the hallway.
These mixed signals could be the reason why people think us millenials have no direction. We receive so many conflicting examples of what young women should be like at the ages when we are the most impressionable. Should we be the super cutesy girl in floral dresses or should we be the sexy girl in leather? Should we value baking cookies and kittens or tattoos and gluten -free diets?
I feel like I’m never really happy with where I am in life because I always want to be more or be something else. I want to be what’s trendy at the moment (most of us say we don’t care about being trendy, but we do), but I don’t really know what that is. So I keep changing. I keep trying to be like that “it girl.” Too bad there’s a different “it girl” every five minutes.