“I think it’s just to get attention. It’s to get the likes. Everything’s about the likes.” This is the explanation as to why teenage girls are posting sexualised pictures online in a new book, ‘American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Life of Teenagers’ by Nancy Jo Sales.
The book paints a disturbing portrait of the end of childhood as we know it as girls experience a new kind of adolescence — one dominated by new social and sexual norms, where a girl’s first crushes and experiences of longing and romance occur in an accelerated electronic environment; where issues of identity and self-esteem are magnified and transformed by social platforms that provide instantaneous judgment. What does it mean to be a girl growing up today? It means coming of age online in a hypersexualized culture that has normalized extreme behavior, from pornography to the casual exchange of nude photographs; a culture rife with a virulent new strain of sexism and a sometimes self-undermining notion of feminist empowerment; a culture in which teenagers are spending so much time on technology and social media that they are not developing basic communication skills. From beauty gurus to slut-shaming to a disconcerting trend of exhibitionism, Nancy Jo Sales provides a shocking window into the troubling world of today’s teenage girls.
Though the book is entirely US-based, the headlines we are seeing in the UK press on an all too regular basis shows us that this book is just as relevant to understanding the experiences of teenagers growing up in the UK today.
More information on this incredibly important book can be read at Time Magazine.