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Teenage girls suffer from additional stress

Science News for Students

Brenna Yeager, Staff Writer

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Back in December of 2017 CNN predicted that 2018 would be the year of women. It’s a great time to be a girl — or is it? Behind all these possibilities there is troubling development: the rate of anxiety and depression is climbing, especially in teenage girls.

The suicide rate for girls between the ages of 15 and 19 doubled, reaching a forty year high in 2015, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

According to the Child Mind Institute, girls are twice as stressed, depressed, and anxious as boys. Furthermore, according to study at University of California- Los Angeles, female college freshman are more lonely and less happy than ever.

“I think no one can dispute the wholesale kind of collapse of girls’ wellness right now…It’s really a crisis. I don’t think I’m overstating it. Everywhere I go, I hear about levels of anxiety that are so crippling that it makes it hard for teachers to teach, and we can’t not pay attention to this anymore.” said bestselling author Rachel Simmons, who has been conducting research on young women for decades.

In this year of girl power women are still faced with a considerable amount of standards in order to reach “female success”. In today’s society the measure of “womanness” is so much more than being sexy, like being intelligent, being funny, and being able to be a progressive part of society.

According to Simmons there is psychology behind this issue, girls tend to be socialized at a younger age than boys. This makes them rely on the feedback of others for a gauge of their own self worth.  In today’s society, the concern about pleasing others is what Simmons refers to as a collision course with two cultural changes: of social media, and the expectations of what it means to be a successful girl today.

On social media according to Pew Research, girls tend to dominate in an immensely higher number than boys. The pressure to get at least one like per minute on Instagram and keep up scores of daily Snapchat “streaks” is constant. Furthermore, a daily feed of celebrities showing off skinny stomachs, advertising for diet supplements, and waist trainers deepens girls’ body shame, new research has reported.

A 2017 study revealed that girls who spend most of their time using technology were most likely to say they depressed nearly every day, were more likely to want to change their appearance, and did not enjoy coming to school.

Now in 2018 women are met with a lot of the same opportunities as men, having more of a presence in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) jobs and programs than ever before. But are now facing these social pressures along with the old standards set against them.

“We’re saying ‘keep your bikini body and become an engineering major and also have a totally lit Snapchat feed on a Saturday night,’ and so that’s exhausting, and I call that role overload and role conflict,” Simmons said on the issue.

I asked a senior female student at Naugatuck High School, what things in her life put the most stress on her.

“Boys definitely…boys just don’t understand girls and it sometimes personally makes me feel less than them….definitely weight I know I’m skinny and people probably have the idea that I’m like not insecure about it but I know it’s a problem for most girls and it is for me and it’s an insecurity of mine and causes a lot of stress…Talking to my mom about things that I’m going through as a girl during this age can kinda be hard because it was so long ago for her, she might not completely understand, I think that’s really stressful.”

 

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Teenage girls suffer from additional stress