Tag: The Telegraph

UIO Launches Wait Awhile For Teenage Girls

UIO, the podcast for teen girls, launched our  Wait Awhile initiative, to encourage teenage girls to slow down and reclaim their teenage years to avoid unnecessary regrets. For years now, I have watched the world of teenage girls change rather radically.  I had suspected for some time that due to modern day pressures, girls were being sexualised earlier and earlier, narrowing the gap between being a girl and a woman.

Our Wait Awhile survey not only confirms my concerns but also reveals the hidden story behind the trend that is seeing an increase in pressures such as sexting, tattooing, cosmetic surgery and missing out on real life experiences and often with regret.

In our news regularly now, we are hearing and seeing tragic stories about self-harm and even suicide. Much of the pressure does come from social media but social media does not happen in a vacuum.  Teenage girls tell me that this notion of being perfect and happy all the time is impossible to live up to on and offline and to try, whether it is by filtering photographs online or trying to fit into an uncomfortable space offline, requires great compromise and can therefore cause unprecedented stress and anxiety.

UIO, through our podcasts and our Wait Awhile initiative, want to relieve girls of this undue pressure. Admittedly, the teen years have always been a challenge but the modern day pressures for girls are unprecedented.

We want to hear from you–teen girls and have provided a platform on our page for you to talk about your experiences, tell us how we can help and how others can help, too.  One thing we are already doing is supporting The Telegraph’s statutory duty of care effort to be imposed on social media companies to better protect children from online harms, as related to teenage girls.

Keep watching this space for more on Wait Awhile, you can follow us on Twitter (@uiowaitawhile). And if you missed it, you can catch up with my recent BBC television appearance on the Victoria Derbyshire show on 23rd April 2019 via iplayer until mid-May.  As always, it is all about you, the teenage girl.

Putting The Spotlight on Reclaiming Sacred Space

When unhealthy change comes fast and furious, we see it for what it is but when it comes slow and subtle, particularly if it is seductive, we tend to turn a blind eye to it, until it causes an explosion of sorts. 

That is what appears to be happening in the world of teenage girls—the pressures that are staring them in the face daily are causing widespread concerns. 

To no direct fault of their own, girls are a part of a values shift in society and when values shift, so do norms, mores.  Normalising non-medical cosmetic surgery, for example, even if unintentionally, is a little bit more than a trend. It has fundamental implications for mental and emotional health, as does lowering the bar for when teenagers are given a green light so to speak to engage in sexual activity freely, for example, without reference to emotional and mental health.

Our Wait Awhile research as featured in The Telegraph’s ‘Thousands of girls as young as 13 turn to cosmetic surgery as social media pressures mount,’ alongside The Sunday Times’ recently published ‘Teenagers line up for Botoxjabs to mimic celebrities,’ turns the spotlight on the concern for girls signing up for non-medical cosmetic surgery.

Both pieces, as does our research, begs loads of questions.  What does it all mean? Who is to blame? Is this a trend? Over the past few weeks, not only have I been asked these question time and again but also, I have pondered them. And while the answers will hopefully come in insight and debate over the next little while, followed by lasting solutions, rather than in finger pointing and casting blame, we have something to celebrate.

The cat is out of the bag. This is a hidden story that has haunted me for some time now.  As a longstanding advocate for providing safe platforms for girls, I have been long concerned about the shifting norms we all face nowadays, and particularly the impact this shift has on teenage girls.

For too long, society has turned a blind eye to the mounting pressures that teenage girls are facing because of our obsession with instant gratification, glamour and glee.  It is quite easy to chalk it all up to generational trends and believe that girls, themselves, are setting the trends and leading the way.

But let’s face it, teenage girls, like the rest of us, don’t live in a vacuum.  They are not exempt from this chaotic state in which we live.  

Actually, there is nothing wrong with any of the above concepts unto themselves—a little instant gratification from time to time can do wonders for  self-esteem but when we feel entitled, that is another story.  And on beauty, it has to be the most misused and misunderstood word of all times. Okay maybe liberal takes the cake.  But the point is this: beauty is a wonderful thing. When thinking of and speaking of creation, itself, beauty sums it up.  It is when we set and subscribe to aesthetic standards that isolate and marginalise some and that we simply cannot measure up to that we end up compromising something emotional and mental, which leads to the rise in frustration, unhappiness and all the rest.

It is not bad thing that we are now seeing these stories out in the open, which have often been unknowingly validated, feeding into the continuing shift in our values, which dictate our norms.

So what can we do? See the new direction for what it is and advocate on behalf of and support the most vulnerable groups and communities in society. And aid them in setting the record straight and reclaiming their own sacred space.  That is what UIO, the podcast for teen girls, inclusive of our Wait Awhile initiative, is all about. Join us and have your say via Disqus, our comments platform or contact me directly here .


Celebrating Your Girl Super Power

Though women and teenage girls are experiencing unprecedented pressures to be perfect, to be happy all the time, we girls remain amazing and there is no better time to be a woman, a girl and to celebrate.

Celebrating womanhood is appropriate any time of the year but during March, Women’s History Month, honouring and celebrating women is a daily event, not to mention the excitement of International Women’s Day, March 8.

Appropriately so, we have re-released our Identity podcast, a wonderful celebration of identifying as a female.  Sisterhood co-founders Rachita and Rebecca talk about the wonderful girl cell that we ladies have.

“The girl cell is your super power. “

Ever since I heard this emancipating statement, I have been in fifth gear, encouraging teenage girls to reject the modern pressures in their lives, posing as necessary, norms that will serve them now and forever more.

Hence, our wait awhile initiative, starting its third week of life. With alarming statistics revealing that some teenage girls are actually getting non-medical cosmetic surgery, I have had endless conversations and queries about the matter. How can this be happening? Are these procedures legal, etc?

One growing concern I have is that the real point of this statistic–teenage girls are being forced to grow-up too soon– is lost on society. It some ways it appears that the story is yet another sensational piece, detaching it from real girls.  Not so fast!

The reality is that real teenage girls have had their lips done several times to make them bigger, had fillers in their mouth so gums don’t show when they smile, fillers in their nose so they can contour it, had numerous injections in their bottoms, and Botox from the age of 16.

This is real life, not reality television, impacting the lives of a generation of girls who are making these choices under pressure, often blaming the social media culture in which they live. Social media has a lot to answer for, which is why we are supporting The Telegraph’s duty of care campaign and calling on the Government with as many strokes of the pen as we can to make social media a safe space for teenage girls.

But social media alone is not the only problem. Our girls are growing up under the influence of modern pressures on and off media. Our research corroborates that some of the pressure are systematic, if you will.

So change is needed inside, out if you will.  Meanwhile, we are saying to teenage girls: embrace your girl cell, your super power, use it to strengthen your identity. Follow your passions and side step things that will likely lead to regret and enjoy the good stuff about being a girl and as for the good stuff about being a woman, await awhile. It will come.

For more tips on identity, check out Your Identity Inside Out and tap into your girl cell, your very own superpower.