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The Diversity and Complexity of Girlhood in the Age of Girl Power





Growing Up With Girl Power (Mediated Youth)




Introduction




If you were born in the 1990s or later, chances are you have grown up with girl power. Girl power is a cultural phenomenon that emerged in the late 20th century as a way of celebrating girls' strength, independence, creativity, diversity, and fun. Girl power is often associated with pop icons like the Spice Girls, Beyoncé, and Taylor Swift, who have used their music, fashion, and activism to inspire and empower girls around the world. Girl power is also reflected in various media forms, such as magazines, books, movies, TV shows, video games, and websites, that target girls as consumers and producers of popular culture.




Growing Up With Girl Power (Mediated Youth)


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Girl power culture has many positive aspects. It encourages girls to pursue their dreams, express their opinions, explore their interests, challenge stereotypes, and support each other. It also provides girls with a range of role models, resources, and opportunities to develop their identities and skills. However, girl power culture also has some negative aspects. It can impose unrealistic expectations, pressures, and norms on girls, such as being perfect, popular, sexy, and successful. It can also exclude, marginalize, or trivialize girls who do not fit into the dominant image of girl power. Moreover, it can obscure or ignore the structural inequalities and injustices that girls still face in society.


The aim of this article is to examine the identity practices of girls who have grown up in the context of girl power culture. The article draws on the book 'Girl Power': Girls Reinventing Girlhood by Dawn Currie, Deirdre M. Kelly, and Shauna Pomerantz (2009), which is based on a four-year ethnographic study of Canadian girls aged 9 to 19. The article also incorporates other sources and examples from different countries and contexts to illustrate the diversity and complexity of girl power culture. The article will address the following questions: How does girl power culture define and represent girlhood? How do girls enact and perform girl power in their everyday lives? How does girl power culture influence girls' peer relations and hierarchies? How does girl power culture enable girls to participate in alternative and male-dominated subcultures? How does girl power culture shape girls' online experiences and interactions? How does girl power culture relate to feminism and its history? How has girl power culture changed over time and across contexts?


Popular Meanings of Girlhood




One of the main features of girl power culture is that it offers a new definition and representation of girlhood. Girlhood is no longer seen as a passive, subordinate, or inferior stage of life that prepares girls for womanhood. Instead, girlhood is seen as an active, autonomous, and superior stage of life that celebrates girls for who they are and what they can do. Girlhood is also seen as a diverse and dynamic category that encompasses different ages, races, classes, sexualities, abilities, and personalities.


Girl power culture expresses its popular meanings of girlhood through various media forms that appeal to girls' tastes and preferences. Some of the common themes and images of girl power media are: adventure, fantasy, romance, friendship, humor, fashion, beauty,


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Doing Girl Power




Another main feature of girl power culture is that it encourages girls to enact and perform girl power in their everyday lives. Girl power is not only a media message, but also a personal practice and a social performance. Girls are expected to demonstrate their girl power through their choices, actions, expressions, and interactions. They are also expected to display their girl power through their appearance, style, and consumption.


Girl power culture provides girls with a variety of practices and styles that they can adopt to express their girl power. Some of these practices and styles are: being confident, assertive, outspoken, ambitious, competitive, independent, adventurous, creative, rebellious, and fun-loving. Some of these styles are: wearing bright colors, bold patterns, glitter, accessories, and slogans; mixing and matching different genres, eras, and cultures; customizing and personalizing their clothes, accessories, and belongings; and experimenting with different looks, identities, and roles.


However, girl power culture also imposes some norms and expectations on girls that they have to negotiate and resist. For example, girl power culture often promotes a narrow and idealized image of beauty that is based on whiteness, thinness, youthfulness, and sexiness. Girl power culture also often reinforces traditional gender roles and stereotypes that associate femininity with domesticity, emotionality, passivity, and dependency. Girl power culture also often ignores or downplays the social and structural factors that limit girls' opportunities and choices in life.


Popular Girls




One of the ways that girl power culture influences girls' peer relations and hierarchies is by creating a new category of girls: popular girls. Popular girls are girls who have high status, influence, and visibility among their peers. They are often admired, envied, desired, or feared by other girls and boys. They are also often featured and celebrated in girl power media as role models or celebrities.


Popular girls in girl power culture have some distinctive characteristics and strategies that help them achieve and maintain their popularity. Some of these characteristics are: being attractive, fashionable, charismatic, confident, outgoing, friendly, funny, smart, talented, successful, and wealthy. Some of these strategies are: forming cliques or gangs with other popular girls; creating rules or codes of conduct for themselves and others; using gossip or rumors to manipulate or control others; competing or cooperating with other popular girls; flirting or dating with popular boys; and participating or excelling in various activities or events.


However, popular girls in girl power culture also face some pressures and contradictions that make their popularity precarious and problematic. For example,


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popular girls in girl power culture have to balance between being powerful and feminine, being liked and respected, being loyal and competitive, and being authentic and adaptable. They also have to deal with the jealousy, hostility, or betrayal of their peers, the scrutiny or criticism of their teachers or parents, and the exploitation or objectification of the media or the market.


Skater Girls




One of the ways that girl power culture enables girls to participate in alternative and male-dominated subcultures is by creating a new category of girls: skater girls. Skater girls are girls who are involved in skateboarding, a sport that is traditionally associated with boys and masculinity. They are often seen as cool, edgy, daring, and rebellious by their peers. They are also often featured and celebrated in girl power media as pioneers or icons.


Skater girls in girl power culture have some distinctive challenges and opportunities that they face in their subculture. Some of these challenges are: being outnumbered, excluded, or harassed by male skaters; being stereotyped, stigmatized, or sexualized by mainstream society; being injured, discouraged, or unsupported by their families or friends; and being limited by the lack of resources, facilities, or recognition for female skateboarding. Some of these opportunities are: being empowered, inspired, or mentored by other female skaters; being creative, expressive, or skilled in their sport; being respected, admired, or accepted by male skaters; and being influential, visible, or successful in their subculture.


However, skater girls in girl power culture also have to negotiate and resist some norms and expectations that shape their identities and communities. For example,


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skater girls in girl power culture have to balance between being feminine and masculine, being individual and collective, being conformist and subversive, and being amateur and professional. They also have to deal with the diversity, complexity, and change of their subculture, which can create tensions, conflicts, or alliances among different groups, styles, or generations of skaters.


Online Girls




One of the ways that girl power culture shapes girls' online experiences and interactions is by creating a new category of girls: online girls. Online girls are girls who are active and savvy users of digital technologies, such as computers, smartphones, tablets, and the internet. They are often seen as connected, informed, creative, and empowered by their peers. They are also often featured and celebrated in girl power media as innovators or leaders.


Online girls in girl power culture have some distinctive advantages and risks that they encounter in their digital spaces. Some of these advantages are: being able to access, produce, and share a vast amount of information, entertainment, and education; being able to communicate, collaborate, and network with a diverse and global audience; being able to express, explore, and experiment with their identities, interests, and talents; and being able to participate, influence, and transform their online cultures and communities. Some of these risks are: being exposed to inappropriate, harmful, or illegal content or contacts; being vulnerable to cyberbullying, harassment, or stalking; being addicted, distracted, or isolated by their online activities; and being exploited, manipulated, or surveilled by their online platforms or providers.


However, online girls in girl power culture also have to negotiate and resist some norms and expectations that regulate their online behaviors and representations. For example,


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online girls in girl power culture have to balance between being public and private, being authentic and curated, being social and personal, and being ethical and profitable. They also have to deal with the dynamics, challenges, and opportunities of their online cultures and communities, which can create conflicts, collaborations, or competitions among different users, groups, or platforms.


Girls, Girlhood, and Feminism in Motion




One of the ways that girl power culture relates to feminism and its history is by creating a new category of girls: feminist girls. Feminist girls are girls who are aware of and concerned about the issues and inequalities that affect girls and women in society. They are often seen as critical, activist, and progressive by their peers. They are also often featured and celebrated in girl power media as advocates or heroes.


Feminist girls in girl power culture have some distinctive critiques and perspectives on girl power culture. Some of these critiques are: girl power culture is superficial, commercialized, individualized, and depoliticized; girl power culture is exclusive, elitist, homogenizing, and colonizing; girl power culture is contradictory, ambivalent, co-opted, and backlash. Some of these perspectives are: girl power culture is empowering, liberating, diverse, and fun; girl power culture is complex, dynamic, hybrid, and negotiated; girl power culture is potential, transitional, generational, and contextual.


However, feminist girls in girl power culture also have to negotiate and resist some norms and expectations that shape their feminist identities and practices. For example,


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feminist girls in girl power culture have to balance between being feminist and feminine, being radical and mainstream, being inclusive and exclusive, and being optimistic and realistic. They also have to deal with the diversity, complexity, and change of feminism and its history, which can create tensions, conflicts, or alliances among different waves, branches, or movements of feminism.


Girl Power Revisited




One of the ways that girl power culture has changed over time and across contexts is by creating new categories of girls: post-girl power girls. Post-girl power girls are girls who have grown up in the 21st century, in a world that is shaped by globalization, digitalization, neoliberalism, and postfeminism. They are often seen as postmodern, post-identity, post-political, and post-feminist by their peers. They are also often featured and celebrated in girl power media as consumers or influencers.


Post-girl power girls in girl power culture have some distinctive trends and issues that affect their lives in relation to girl power culture. Some of these trends are: being hyper-connected, hyper-visible, hyper-mobile, and hyper-flexible; being multi-cultural, multi-lingual, multi-racial, and multi-sexual; being entrepreneurial, aspirational, inspirational, and motivational; and being ecological, ethical, social, and global. Some of these issues are: being insecure, anxious, stressed, and depressed; being overworked, underpaid, exploited, and precarious; being discriminated, oppressed, violated, and silenced; and being endangered, threatened, endangered, and extinct.


However, post-girl power girls in girl power culture also have some possibilities and challenges for their empowerment and agency. For example,


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post-girl power girls in girl power culture have to balance between being empowered and disempowered, being agents and victims, being leaders and followers, and being creators and consumers. They also have to deal with the dynamics, challenges, and opportunities of their 21st century world, which can create conflicts, collaborations, or competitions among different actors, forces, or systems.


Conclusion




In conclusion, this article has examined the identity practices of girls who have grown up with girl power culture. The article has shown that girl power culture is a complex and contradictory phenomenon that has both positive and negative aspects for girls' lives. Girl power culture offers girls a new definition and representation of girlhood that celebrates their strength, independence, creativity, diversity, and fun. It also encourages girls to enact and perform girl power in their everyday lives through their choices, actions, expressions, and interactions. However, girl power culture also imposes some norms and expectations on girls that they have to negotiate and resist. It also obscures or ignores some of the issues and inequalities that girls still face in society.


The article has also shown that girl power culture influences girls' peer relations and hierarchies by creating different categories of girls: popular girls, skater girls, online girls, feminist girls, and post-girl power girls. These categories reflect the diversity and complexity of girl power culture across different contexts and times. They also reflect the challenges and opportunities that girls encounter in their subcultures, online spaces, feminist movements, and 21st century world. The article has also shown that girl power culture relates to feminism and its history by creating different critiques and perspectives on girl power culture. These critiques and perspectives reflect the tensions and conflicts between different waves, branches, or movements of feminism. They also reflect the possibilities and challenges for girls' empowerment and agency in relation to girl power culture.


The article has aimed to provide a comprehensive and critical overview of girl power culture and its implications for girls' identities and lives. The article has also aimed to provide some suggestions for parents and teachers of girls, as well as educational professionals and adult girl advocates. The article has suggested that they should adopt a 'critical social literacy' approach that recognizes the ways popular culture mediates young people's understanding of gender. This approach involves helping girls to analyze, evaluate, question, challenge, and transform the messages and meanings of girl power culture. It also involves supporting girls to develop their own voices, values, visions, and actions for their empowerment and agency.


FAQs




What is girl power?




Girl power is a cultural phenomenon that emerged in the late 20th century as a way of celebrating girls' strength,


---


independence, creativity, diversity, and fun. Girl power is often associated with pop icons, media forms, and consumer products that target girls as audiences and producers of popular culture.


What are the benefits and challenges of growing up with girl power?




The benefits of growing up with girl power are that it encourages girls to pursue their dreams, express their opinions, explore their interests, challenge stereotypes, and support each other. It also provides girls with a range of role models, resources, and opportunities to develop their identities and skills. The challenges of growing up with girl power are that it can impose unrealistic expectations, pressures, and norms on girls, such as being perfect, popular, sexy, and successful. It can also exclude, marginalize, or trivialize girls who do not fit into the dominant image of girl power. Moreover, it can obscure or ignore the structural inequalities and injustices that girls still face in society.


How do girls enact and perform girl power in their everyday lives?




Girls enact and perform girl power in their everyday lives through their choices, actions, expressions, and interactions. They also display their girl power through their appearance, style, and consumption. Girl power culture provides girls with a variety of practices and styles that they can adopt to express their girl power. However, girl power culture also imposes some norms and expectations on girls that they have to negotiate and resist.


How does girl power culture influence girls' peer relations and hierarchies?




Girl power culture influences girls' peer relations and hierarchies by creating different categories of girls: popular girls, skater girls, online girls, feminist girls, and post-girl power girls. These categories reflect the diversity and complexity of girl power culture across different contexts and times. They also reflect the challenges and opportunities that girls encounter in their subcultures, online spaces, feminist movements, and 21st century world.


How does girl power culture relate to feminism and its history?




Girl power culture relates to feminism and its history by creating different critiques and perspectives on girl power culture. These critiques and perspectives reflect the tensions and conflicts between different waves,


---


branches, or movements of feminism. They also reflect the possibilities and challenges for girls' empowerment and agency in relation to girl power culture.





Thank you for reading this article. I hope you have learned something new and interesting about girl power culture and its implications for girls' identities and lives. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me. I would love to hear your feedback and opinions.



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