The Pressure On Girls | The Children's Society

09:30


A study conducted in late 2016 through a collaboration between The Children's Society & The University of York revealed that there is a growing gap between the happiness of girls aged 10-15 and boys aged 10-15. Whether this is because boys are taught not to talk about their emotions, I don't know, but today I'm going to be focusing on the clear increase in unhappiness in girls over a five year period and include some of my own experiences from this time in my life that supports this.

One of The Children's Society's goal is to make Mental Health & Wellbeing Support a legal right for those in school and college. There's so much I could say on this topic as, without trying to sound woe is me, I really bore the brunt of my mental health throughout this time, luckily I came out the other side mostly unscathed, but it's such a moulding time in someone's life that once the damage is done, it can be hard to reverse it.

Appearance

The fact that one in three girls are unhappy with their appearance is no surprise to me, in school there were a number of things I grew to loathe about the way I looked and with statistics pointing out that girls are twice more likely to worry about their appearance than boys, it definitely seems like more of a widespread problem than just me. Insecurities and a lack of confidence could stem from a number of things in this culture where things that weren't perfect about you were spoken about behind your back. It seems disdain now that what people thought about me meant so much back then, when I hadn't even grown into myself yet, but there were a number of things I came to hate about myself including the fact that I wore glasses. I'd be so self conscious whenever I inevitably had to put them on in lesson, there were times where I tried not wearing them, but double vision and headaches would then take their toll, until I had to just put them on and remember to keep my head down in lessons in the hope no one would notice.

Looking back, it's clear now that a lot of other girls were very self-conscious too about a number of things that didn't really matter, PE felt like end of the world for those girls that hadn't yet started to shave their legs (which shouldn't actually matter). The girls that were later developers than others, were made to feel insecure about their bodies and so ultimately it became a game of tit for tat in bitchy remarks. Girls tearing down other girls for acting a certain way and looking a certain way. It was like being amongst vultures at times, and there were times where I became one too, simply to make myself feel better about the things I've mentioned.

Sexuality

As well as my insecurities with my appearance, I also struggled a lot in coming to terms with my sexuality, whilst I don't bother labelling myself a certain way nowadays, it caused a lot of confusion in my teenage years, largely because others around you expect you to know, and will gossip about the ins and outs of it all as they begin to work out who they find attractive themselves.

Sometimes I'd tell close friends that I did in fact find some girls attractive, only to retract the statement in a fit of fear. I became so preoccupied with the thought of people finding out that I wasn't 100% straight that it became a burden I carried round with me. It got to the point where I honestly didn't see any future for myself, with all my time being consumed by pointless paranoia.

I do have high hopes that attitudes towards sexuality are shifting, as in three years the number of people identifying themselves as bisexual has risen by 45%. Inside schools though, it's like a different world as everyone scrambles to work out who they are and find their own sense of identity. This is definitely something that contributed to my unhappiness in school, and I do think that maybe if more help and awareness was available, more people would accept themselves for who they are and all this riff raff as to who likes who wouldn't actually matter as much.


The power of social media:

I personally believe that this increase in unhappiness, could be largely related to false ideals that we see on social media. I remember at this age, for me, it was all about the group photo and pratting about with various poses. I didn't go out as much as other people, and I remember I'd be so happy when one of my friend's posted a photo of us all as it made me feel validated and made me feel less insecure about my social life.

Nowadays? Well, we know that the momentum behind social media is increasing, and it's integrated itself as a core part of our social communication over the past few years; there's Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook and more. These platforms can be great for people to get in touch with each other, and have something to look back on in years to come, but it can also be a place of great insecurity; if you're not doing the same things as you're peers, if you're not 'squad goals' or perhaps 'relationship goals' it can really have a negative impact on how you feel. According to the Office of National Statistics, children that spent over 3 hours a day on social media reported a 27% increase in mental health related symptoms. I believe this could be a potential cause of unhappiness, especially in young individuals as they may compare their everyday life to a false standard of perfection, an impression that may be lasting.

Summary:


Of course, there are many other factors that could contribute to this increase in unhappiness as I've only discussed a few; fears of the future, life at home and academic performance can all play a role in contributing towards the prevalence of unhappiness girls experience at this age. I do think making support in schools more readily available for teens, including boys, would have so many benefits, as if help had been more readily available in my school, I might've been able to talk to someone before the more disruptive mental health problems developed. We need to teach girls in school to support each other, not tear each other down and to embrace all our differences as they make us unique. We need to teach them to not be too scared of being judged to ask for support and to lend a helping hand if they see someone struggling.

I personally think it's great that The Children's Society have pointed this out in their research and are so committed to fighting for change based upon their findings, if you want to take a look at their study you can do so here or check out their Twitter.

That's all,
Beth x

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11 comments

  1. This research is so important! We really need to raise awareness of statistics like this, even if it's just to make young girls feel like they're not alone! I definitely notice a big difference between how I was during my childhood and the young girls I work with in youth groups, they're sooo much more appearance focussed and it's so sad! Everyone deserves to have fun in their childhood and not worry about what they look like!

    Abbey 😘 www.abbeylouisarose.co.uk

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  2. When I was a teen, I thought I was so isolated in my insecurities and unhappiness. It was only when I got older that I realized it was such a major problem for my demographic. Appearance and social media were major for me. I didn't think I was pretty, and I was being blasted with beautiful images of all my peers. This is an informative post ♥️

    Breanna Catharina
    Toocuteforlife.com

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  3. Hi,
    It's quiet startling to see the figures that you have highlighted, especially that 1 in 7 girls are unhappy with their lives overall. Let's hope that something positive results from these findings, Chloe #TeacupClub

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  4. This is such an interesting read and sadly not surprising as I can relate to some of these! Thanks for sharing lovely :)!

    L xo
    www.lindsaymurrell.co.uk

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  5. Really interesting post. I think a lot of girls can relate to the issues you mentioned, and it is so important to talk about them. Thank you for sharing.
    Freya - freyasnook.blogspot.com

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  6. Such an insightful and encouraging post. As I'm still a teenager of tender 15 years of age I know most of the things listed above more than well and posts always help me feel better about myself. Thank you very much for sharing this!

    xx Solange | creativepineapples.blogspot.com

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  7. This is so insightful and I wish these statistics had a bigger reach as this is sooo important! I often feel unhappy with my appearance and I know so many others who do too x

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  8. What an interesting read! It's honestly so shocking to see these figures. I know a lot of young girls will definitely be able to relate to this which is why it's such a great thing that you've been able to to highlight these issues!

    -Lauren https://www.lalsiee.com
    X

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  9. This has just made me so sad, that so many young women and girls are unhappy. Thinking back to how I felt at this time makes me so bloody angry. Schools really do need to step up and do something about mental health and wellbeing instead of leaving it too late, because it does have a huge impact.
    Fantastically important post.
    Cora x
    http://www.teapartyprincess.co.uk/

    ReplyDelete
  10. Great read!! I definetly relate to the unhappy with the appreance but have slowly grown into being comfortable in my own skin. So many people have inner unhappiness that they worry about being open and telling others but it's so so important to do so.

    Talking about these issues are so important in making a difference...

    Shona Marie xo

    https://shonamariebellechic.blogspot.co.uk/?m=1

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  11. I can relate to so much of this. I was an early bloomer and had large breasts, so for me PE was a nightmare. I was convinced everyone (especially the boys) were staring at my boobs. And, being pansexual, I knew I liked girls, so that was something else that set me apart and made me feel like I didn't fit in. Being a teenager is probably always going to be hard, but I do think there are things adults can do to help.

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