Dear teenage girl:
I want to take a minute to write down some words for you, because I feel like it’s really important that someone says these things.
In the grown up world, “teenage girls” are kind of a lame stereotype, and I want to say that I’m sorry. You seem to be a demographic that is written off as silly, fickle, short-sighted, simplistic, shallow, and desperate. No one seems to respect you very much.
I often hear men (and even women) refer to you in an offhanded manner as if you’re the easiest group to manipulate, to sell to, to convince of things, to understand, and to predict.
This makes me incredibly sad because half of planet earth has been a teenage girl at some point, or currently is one, or will soon be one. And the other half? The other half either has or will desire you.
To joke about and put down “the teenage girls” is to put ourselves down. Somewhere along the way, we’ve either been one, or we’ve wanted nothing more than to love and kiss one.
There is no way to talk poorly of teenage girls without talking poorly about ourselves, and hurting those around us.
I wish I could make everybody stop it, but I can’t. But what I can do is write what I know to be true about teenage girls.
I know that we are more passionate than any other group of people I’ve ever found.
I know that we are capable of great depths of insight, able to give and receive wisdom.
I know that we are extremely joyful, and also have an impressive understanding of grief – which gives birth to one of the Universe’s most glorious things: Empathy.
I know that we are intelligent, and that learning is easy for us.
I know that we are capable of autonomous, individual opinions and decisions.
I know that we create better art than pretty much anyone else.
I know that the words we write are more true to our souls at this age than at any other age; that honesty comes naturally to us.
I know that we carry a great burden of being both adult and child at the same time, which gives us a view of the world that no one else has.
I know that we see beauty where no one else sees it, which is possibly the most honorable attribute a person can have.
I know that we have the innate resilience to overcome family trauma and dysfunction, and that at any given moment, every single teenage girl is wrestling through intimate struggles caused by someone in her family – and yet she rises to be present at work, at school, at play.
I know that our capacity for hope, for love, for art, for creativity, and for Becoming Better and More is unstoppable.
I know that we aren’t “exactly like” all the other teenage girls we know, because we are all fantastically unique, and that’s also why we love one another so much and can produce such awesome things.
I know that our bullshit detector is solid.
I know that we know when glamour starts and when it stops, and that even though it may look otherwise, we don’t give it more credit than it deserves.
I know that we aren’t crazy, and that we actually balance logic and emotion pretty well.
And I also know that we are capable of just as much positive change, beneficial passion, and enthusiastic love as any other male or female human being around us.
I wish I could tell you that the world will suddenly have a better opinion on teenage girls tomorrow when you wake up, but they probably won’t. I’m not terribly worried about it though, because I know what most people don’t: We are stupid amounts of strong, and already have years of experience to sticking to our guns when siblings, acquaintances, teachers, students, parents, relatives, and the majority of mass media are at our backs.
So, a love, a kiss, and a lot of badass glitter to each and every one of you. Carry on with your magnificent life. You deserve respect and admiration, and you’ve got mine.
A 25 year old girl who still feels like a teenager
Written for GoodWomenProject.com