Girls Support Girls

What does it mean to be a girl in 2019? I sat down with 9 girls and 1 baby to talk all things social media, feminism and body image. Many of the girls have never met before and are all varied in their looks, backgrounds and beliefs, but united in their passion for supporting their fellow girls.

 
 

MARIA

21

“When Instagram first started, I thought I’d just post fun photos. We used to have a joint account and we would post anything and everything. But nowadays, I do feel like I’m influenced to look a certain way. Arienne will get fed up of me, like ‘oh I’m sick of taking photos’, but I think I need to. So I’m influenced in that way, and my Instagram is not a true sense of me. Most of the time I’m way more chilled, I have zero make-up on, I wear basically gym clothes every day. I’m influenced by other influencers to look a certain way, but I know it’s not real at all.”

ARIENNE

20

“My Mam inspires me so much, there is no limit when she gives love. She’ll take any chance to help anyone. She had to leave us for two years in the Philippines because she couldn’t afford to bring us over at first. Her childhood as well: she used to walk miles to school, to get water, and wash her clothes in the river. It’s a contrast to how she brought us up and the sacrifices she made, especially. To me she’s a leader and I just aspire to be as good of a woman as she is.“



MOLLY

19

“My relationship with my body image is not good, I’ll be totally honest about that. I think that’s something I’ve had a problem with since I was very young, and from before not even having a comprehension of body image, I’ve had issues. And also, being in a sport that really emphasises thinness as well. Distance running has inevitably look a toll on me. So that has had a massive impact on me that past few years. Having issues from being younger with food, coupled with my sport, it has had an effect and I’ve had issues. So it’s not on top form but it’s getting better, and it will be there eventually. I think when you get older and you get a bit of mental clarity, you realise what you’re doing by engaging in certain behaviours or whatever is not good for your health, and long term it’s going to really damage you, then you can rationalise it a lot better and think ‘right, I need to get out of this fixed mind set, challenge it a bit and progress from there!’. With maturity comes mental clarity.”


 
 

EMILY

18

“Obviously, I am not skinny, or slim in any way shape or form, and I don’t think I ever have been, literally since I came out of the womb. So, I think when I was younger I struggled with it a lot more, when you are younger, people are a lot more bitchy and immature. So I think back then it did effect me more but now, I’ve learnt to love my body. I think I’ve got a fat personality; I wouldn’t suit being skinny, I just wouldn’t. So although I am not your typical slim, gorgeous, skinny girl, I think I have a good relationship with my body and I’m happy with it. I don’t think people have the choice to be judgemental of me because either way, I’m going to talk to you and I’m going to be nice to you. It’s going to happen. I can’t put myself in a position where I think I’m being judged.”



ELEANOR

19

“I live for feminism, love it. I agree I don’t think it will ever be 100%, but I don’t think it’s a bad thing to be fighting that fight. I’m all for it and I think it’s brilliant. I do think it can be taken too far, like on Twitter you see Piers Morgan using the most extreme cases of feminism when that’s not what it really means, that just gets the attention. They take the most extreme cases and use that to represent feminism as a whole in a very negative light, but I think it’s different for each person. I think when a woman achieves something, it’s assumed it’s just because of her gender, like at work if I get offered a job, they’d say ‘oh it’s just because they fancy you’, not because I’d be a good worker. I’ve never been targeted directly but I can empathise with people who have. So I would 100% say I’m a feminist and I wouldn’t be ashamed to say it.”


 
 

SOPHIE

19

“I think I’ve just had to learn to put up with my body image. Sometimes there’s just nothing you can do. I’ve literally got stretch-marks everywhere and they’re not horrendous, but sometimes I look at it and it does look so much worse to me than in real life. You put all the creams on and you do everything you can, but you still want to eat some biscuits at the end of the day. All through pregnancy I was like ‘right, I can’t wait to get back in the gym as soon as I’ve had her, and get back into shape’, and now I’ve stepped foot in the gym once. Same with the sport thing, I still go out on my mountain bike as much as I can but it’s not to lose weight, but to give myself a break and it lets off so many good feelings afterwards. I think it was a combination of me wanting to get fit and also the expectation of having the perfect bounce back. I’d love to say I don’t compare myself to girls on social media, but then as soon as I go on Instagram and I’m looking down I’m like ‘oh, my God, I’d love to be like that’. You do, even though you know it’s not realistic, and that there’s no way it could happen, but I feel like I would love to wake up tomorrow and look like that.”

ARIA

5 MONTHS


NAOMI

21

“I have a very difficult relationship with social media. The course that we do is fashion communication, so a lot of it is around social media, but I think if I had gone down a different path, I honestly don’t think I would even have social media at all. Not so much now but maybe a year or two ago I was that person that would compare myself to every single person that would come up, particularly the Kardashians. I made a really conscious effort, I had to unfollow all of them, just because I found myself thinking, ‘I want that, I want to look like that’ and all of this. And honestly when I did remove that completely it was crazy how it did really change, so when I was logging onto my social media I wasn’t seeing that I was just seeing my friends and things like that, it really changed. I would totally advise taking breaks from social media, I go on year-long breaks, because it does get a lot and its really easy just to fall into that. I recently came back to social media and I’m posting like six times a day and I love it but in two weeks I’ll probably be over it, and I’ll go away for a year. It is just a very difficult relationship, it’s very tumultuous.”


 
 

SALLY

18

“My least favourite thing about being a girl is I feel as though we get compared to other girls way more than boys get compared to other boys. I feel as though me, I get compared to shorter girls, or prettier girls. I wish we would see more supporting, but I think that it’s more of a competition between girls, on social media especially, it’s crazy. Even though people would comment, I don’t think a comment is necessarily supportive. If someone comments ‘aww, cute’ I can’t help but to think into it more instead of just thinking ‘oh, that was a compliment’, I think, ‘well what does that really mean?’ Unfortunately I think it’s because girls can be supportive to your face or over text and then be very different behind your back.”


HYDEE

19

“I like being a girl because you can get dolled up and make yourself feel good, but I think there is a lot of pressure to look nice once you’re dolled up, so it can be a double-edged sword really. In terms of seeing other people on social media, I’m not that bothered, I don’t find myself particularly comparing myself to other girls. But when it comes to posting, I hate it, I get anxiety over it, I’ll text everyone and be like ‘does it look okay? Is the caption okay?’ If I don’t get 20 likes in the first 30 minutes then I’m deleting it and this is bad, but I get validation from the likes and comments. I get so worried. So then it will get to the fifth minute and I’ll be like ‘it’s got one comment, like, oh my God, I can’t do it’, and that’s me deleting it and I’ll try again on the Wednesday. It’s a never-ending cycle.”

 
 

by OLIVER HILLMAN