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Isn't it fairly normal to be critical of your appearance as a teenage girl?

(16 Posts)
fordpenk Wed 31-Aug-16 17:01:52

teenage girls unhappy with their looks

I heard this on the local radio today and there are calls to allow girls to access 'mental health' support in schools.

Perhaps I'm missing the point, but I do certainly remember being critical of how I looked at that age (and beyond!) and have never thought of it as a mental health issue, more a teenage girl issue. I suppose I'm wondering if we are in danger of labelling and medicalising a normal part of growing up.

HapShawl Wed 31-Aug-16 17:07:19

I think it's a normal reaction to our society's fucked-up attitude to women's bodies, yes, but I don't think that's what you're asking

ISaySteadyOn Wed 31-Aug-16 17:11:57

It's normal, yes but for the reasons Hap says. Wouldn't it be nice if that weren't the case?

ISaySteadyOn Wed 31-Aug-16 17:14:25

I should say I agree with you, OP, it isn't a mental health issue as such, but, as always, instead of examining the environment that might make women and girls feel this way, we pathologise the women and girls instead.

megletthesecond Wed 31-Aug-16 17:16:10

It was normal in my day, 80's.

fordpenk Wed 31-Aug-16 17:17:37

While I don't disagree society's attitudes to women's bodies need changing, I'm not sure that teenagers are critical of their looks solely for this reason.

I'm also not convinced that anything a teenager could worry about or be upset about falls under the category of 'mental health', which is really what I'm concerned about following on from this being newsworthy. It suggests, first of all, that girls are unhappy with their appearance in a way that historically they wouldn't have been, which I don't think is necessarily the case, and secondly looks for solutions from the government, whilst being vague about what these solutions actually are.

SherlockPotter Wed 31-Aug-16 17:19:43

It is fairly normal for teenagers (not limited to just girls) to criticise how they look due to the media, labels and peers but at the same time, it can lead to mental health issues developing in the future such as: eating disorders, depression, anxiety, body dysmorphia.

FarAwayHills Wed 31-Aug-16 17:43:33

I think it is normal for teens, however social media has increased the pressure on young people to be perfect than ever and this should not be underestimated.

Todays 12 year olds are posing and pouting on Instagram in full makeup, nails done, hair straightened, latest fashion fully photo filtered like one of the Kardashians - inviting their peers to rate or like them. Their whole self worth and self esteem is tied up in this.

As teen I hated my nose, wanted a perm and sometimes felt ugly but I never ever felt pressure to look like a perfect sex kitten while also being popular and getting straight As.

mumofthemonsters808 Wed 31-Aug-16 18:23:05

I agree with Far, I was lucky as a teen in that there wasn't that much you could do to alter your appearance, I was ugly as sin, but just had to get by. Spray tans, Mack makeup, HD brows, teeth wightning, were unknown of, ,the beauty industry has since exploded and some parents seem to allow their daughter to indulge in the lot and are unable to say No. Im currently fighting a battle with a 14 year old, who only wants to wear Victoria's Secrets underwear, as "all her friends do" and wondering why her 14 year old friend is on a spa break and wrapped in a towel and posing on Instagram. I dont know who to blame for this obsession with beautification: social media, reality TV, it's all too much too young in my eyes.

specialsubject Wed 31-Aug-16 19:24:41

Parents? Why is this child in a spa, and why isnt her internet use supervised?

mumofthemonsters808 Wed 31-Aug-16 19:53:28

Special - The girls there with her Mother, maybe she thinks it's a fun activity for her and her daughter. She'd need a decade on her in my eyes to appreciate this type of thing, but there seems to be a need to encourage teenagers to act older than their years.THe Mother follows her on Instagram, so she must be aware of the picture.Its not acceptable in my eyes, but this is the climate in which we are parenting, my Dd thinks I'm a strict, old fashioned parent when I'm not, but this is the type of thing you are up against.

FarAwayHills Wed 31-Aug-16 21:31:57

I agree Mumof sometimes I think I'm living in a parallel universe. When did spa days and Victoria's Secret underwear become the norm for teensshock

OP I agree with the danger of labelling normal teen behaviour as a mental health issue. However, things like self harm and eating disorders are on the rise so maybe more support is needed in schools.

Lovefromhull Wed 31-Aug-16 21:44:24

I remembering not liking what I looked like. However, no one really cared that much about image as it wasn't everywhere like it is now. I barely checked a mirror in the morning before school. Now girls are posting photos, expecting " likes" and using so much energy on looking " right". its becoming harder to avoid the pressure.

PrettyBotanicals Thu 01-Sep-16 07:43:49

When did spa days and Victoria's Secret underwear become the norm for teens

I went to an international school in Europe for a couple of years in the 1980s and believe me, there was plenty of that going on among 14-16 year olds then; tanning booths, highlighted and permed hair, dental cosmetics, couture and high-end fashion wardrobes, nose jobs, liquid diets, manis, pedis, 'cures' - you name it.

I then went to school for a year in the north of England. A mooch about in Boots on a Saturday morning and a flick through Jackie was about it for 'grooming.'

I think it's a money and cultural sea change in this country; it took us a while to become like the Americans and Europeans.

lljkk Sat 03-Sep-16 09:53:20

It's human... no? Are you saying flappers in the 1920s didn't worry about their looks? Of course they did.
So did the Victorians.
Teenage girls make something into a drama? You don't say.

BungoWomble Sun 04-Sep-16 10:55:30

"Silly teenage girls" nice.

Yes, the pressure on girls and women for looks has always been there. We live in a sexist society where women are only valued for looks and the potential sexual pleasure they can give to males.

But I do think that pressure is increasing thanks to modern communications. All of us can now experience the extremes of misogyny which have always existed in our culture. Somehow - I guess it is just extremes which grab attention and in an overpopulated world people have to try harder to get attention - those extremes are taking over the internet, to the extent that they are becoming almost mainstream. I'm thinking of how boys now seem to think that internet porn is real and what they can expect from girls.

Gender divisions are also increasing generally, possibly thanks to commercialised interests trying to maximise market gains.

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