From the stamps we carefully position on envelopes to ship our mail to the clothes we purchase to look our very best, everything has a price. But how does that economist view affect teen girls when they begin to evaluate their worth in society based on their looks, their family’s income, and the way they are judged by outsiders? It’s no secret that young women are influenced daily by pop culture, their peers, misogyny, and the negative affects of bullying. What do we do when bullying and its often terrible consequences becomes one of the most talked about subjects in the media? Young girls, particularly young Black girls, receive endless messaging that they are not enough. The result? Doing anything to fit in.
As a teen, I endured some avoidable hiccups in life by making a few poor decisions. I was curious and had an undying desire of wanting to belong (sounds pretty normal). I followed the rules when it came to my education, curfew (sometimes), and respecting my elders, but outside of that trifecta, I made my own rules. No one talked to me about being financially smart, underage drinking, accepting the dark shade of my skin, the importance of loyalty, knowing it’s OK to say NO, independence, pursuing my dreams, expressing my passions, and BOYS!!! Like most young women, I struggled to develop my own voice and learn to be comfortable in my own skin.
It is beyond necessary that adults are vocal with young women about determining their key values in life, staying true to themselves, challenging the actions of others instead of just joining the crowd, and standing out instead of fitting in. Empowering our youth by teaching them everything we know creates a stronger unit instead of a competitive cluster of civilians.
The young girl who fears being ostracized by her “friends” if she doesn’t have the right outfit on deserves a reminder of her worth. The high school freshman who posts pictures of herself in her underwear on Instagram just to get an excessive amount of likes deserves a reminder of her worth. The 19-year old college student who lets her first love convince her into having unprotected sex deserves a reminder of her worth.
For these reasons and many more, I started TeenDiaries.net to give a voice to the teen girls of the world who feel like they have no one to talk to, want to help their peers, have an opinion, have a story to share, have questions that need answers, express opinions without the fear of being challenged, and believe that the internet should be used for more than just posting sexy pictures. It’s a place where real life role models are created: young women who have learned from their mistakes and want to make sure their peers avoid those hurdles and stay on track. It’s a destination for future leaders: young women who are learning the value of independence and self-respect.
Today, I am the mother to three wonderful girls. Like all mothers, I want the best for my family. I dream of a world where my daughters can flourish without negative images bombarding them and endless scrutiny from their peers and society. While we may not be able to achieve that world in this lifetime, I do know that we can create stronger digital destinations for young women to find support. We can open up positive channels for discussion and pray that those discussions can lead to action.
Girls need to be reminded that they are beautiful and complete within themselves and they don’t need to be sold off as anything less than that. They are priceless and should be valued in society. Let’s combat this issue of self-esteem with one conversation at a time. Give them guidance with a dash of freedom so that when they are pursuing their careers, selecting a soul mate, and making other lifelong decisions, they too will know their worth.