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Monthly Archives: July 2015

How We Target Teen Girls

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Today as we were driving home from a lunch date, I asked my sister which celebrities she thought were the most made fun of. We put together a list that included stars like Kylie Jenner, Justin Bieber, Kristin Stweart, Rebecca Black, Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus, and members of any prominent boy band. You may notice a trend. These are all people who either are teenage girls or are marketed towards teenager girls.

This trend isn’t a coincidence. For whatever reason, we as a society have decided that it’s perfectly acceptable to make fun of the things teen girls like.

We’re really good at justifying our hate. We create some standard that these celebrities don’t meet and say that because they don’t meet whatever standard it’s okay to make fun of them. But we don’t apply the standards evenly. We make fun of Twilgiht but not Transformers, despite them arguably being roughly the same caliber. We shame Taylor Swift for dating a lot of prominent men, but don’t care how many high-profile women John Mayer dates. We say we’re making fun of Justin and Miley because they have problems. And they do, but we made fun of them long before they did.

There’s a lot of mediocre talent in the world. Most of the time we just ignore it. But if it’s something teen girls like, we think it’s perfectly acceptable to make fun of that thing.

When we make fun of things teen girls like, we’re really making fun of teen girls. I’ll give my personal example of Taylor Swift. I’ve always loved Taylor, not because I think she’s got the best voice in the business, but because her songs communicated with me. I couldn’t name another artist who can better convey the feelings I went through when I was stood up for a date or when I found out the guy I was dating was kissing other girls. But when people began mocking her for writing too many songs about failed relationships, it colored the way I felt about my own failed relationships. I was ashamed of liking Taylor Swift, and I was ashamed of feeling bad about my dating life.

While I realize there are people with bigger problems than mine or Taylor’s dating issues, it’s not fair to diminish those experiences. That’s like telling somebody who broke their leg that they should get over it because there are people out there who broke both their legs.

I’m not saying that you have to like any of the celebrities I’ve mentioned. They aren’t necessarily my favorites either. What I am saying is that you probably have better things to do than sit around and make fun of them. And if you can’t make a joke that isn’t at somebody else’s expense, you aren’t funny.

If you want to read more about this, I recommend E. Latimer’s article “Haters Gonna Hate (Things that Teenage Girls Like)” and Shannon Hale’s “Boos for Girls.”

I’m going to let T. Swift take it from here. Because I like her. And because she could build a castle out of all the bricks they threw at her.

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LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 25:  Taylor Swift performs at the BRIT Awards 2015 at The O2 Arena on February 25, 2015 in London, England.  (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)