Teenage girls: it’s not just “dramatics”


Juliana Findeis

Teen girls are overwhelmed with the frustrations of life and need support.

Juliana Findeis, The Delphi Staff

I am a freshman in high school, and within the course of the year, I’ve seen myself and many other girls my age change completely: most of the time not for the better.

When you reach high school, you are exposed to a lot more than in middle school, and I’ve experienced that first hand. The repetitive conversations about peer pressure and the dangers of certain substances are often disregarded, but you aren’t prepared for how prevalent these issues are.

Mental health in teens is incredibly important, but it is often overlooked as hormones or just being a moody teenager. However, there’s a lot more to it than that.

It is said that one in five teens suffers from one or more diagnosable mental health disorders, and that’s not just a coincidence. From 2007 to 2017, the rate of major depressive episodes in teen girls has jumped 66%. Almost all statistics show the worsening of teen mental health is higher in girls than in boys. 

While there are many factors that caused these alarming jumps, the two major ones are social media and school. Social media, while it can be beneficial, has also normalized and pushed so many harmful behaviors and standards onto teen girls.

Many harmful online ads are directed toward teens, including ones that glamorize eating disorders and the need to be skinny, self-harm, alcohol and smoking.

Around 20 million women have eating disorders in the U.S., and that’s only including the less than 6% of women getting diagnosed by medical professionals. From 2000 to 2018, the occurrence of eating disorders rose around by 3%. 

During this time, social media became increasingly popular and diet culture had become heavily promoted. There is now an idea that if you’re skinny then you’re attractive and healthy, but that simply isn’t always true. While there are many people who are thinner and healthy, a lot of that is due to genetics as well as healthy eating habits while working out too. The most important thing many teens now miss is that working out consistently and not eating will create unhealthy habits and is unnecessary.

Another common occurrence in school and on social media is “fat talk,” although much of it isn’t on purpose. When the phrase “fat talk” is mentioned, it’s easy to assume it just means to fat-shame someone, but that’s not correct. While some of it is just fat shaming, what many teen girls do is talk bad about their bodies, which can lead to giving others the same idea. Comments like “my thighs are huge” and “there are so many calories in this,” as well as making remarks about one’s own body is a form of “fat talk.” Many people, especially teen girls, will strive to be the opposite of these comments or avoid the things someone might have said. Even if it isn’t direct, talk of this kind can affect anyone.

Even I’m guilty for talking like this, and a lot of that is because it’s just seen as girls being insecure. However, that insecurity can and will be pushed on other people if you continuously talk this way. I have been around people where that’s all they talk about, and it definitely affects the way you think or makes you feel guilty about what you’re eating, wearing, etc.

Self-harm, including drinking and doing other drugs at a young age, is also common. Vaping and drinking in schools, on social media and in today’s society is so commonly discussed that many teens have turned to doing these things even if it’s just to seem “cool.” When many teen girls reach high school, these bad habits become increasingly more likely, not just in schools but at home as well. Teen drinking and smoking is embedded into our society it’s seen as normal, but it shouldn’t be. 

There are many statistics that are showing how bad teen drug and alcohol abuse has been in recent years. It’s known that 50% of teenagers have misused a drug at least once, but by far the most common thing abused by teens is alcohol. In the last year, 407,000 teens, aged 12-17, have met the criteria for Alcohol Use Disorder. In women, specifically teen girls, this is so incredibly dangerous considering alcohol will affect their systems faster than men. These drugs hit harder for girls and can lead to substance abuse or in death. 

While drugs, alcohol and body image issues can all plague an adolescent girl’s life, an even more distressing issue is self harm. Self harming within teen girls is an unhealthy way to “cope” with preexisting mental conditions. All of these issues fuel other illnesses, such as anxiety, depression, anorexia, bulimia and other types of eating disorders, and a lot of times, these illnesses cause these girls to want a release from that.1 in 4 girls self harmed in 2018, in comparison to 1 in 10 boys.

Social media has influenced high school age and younger girls to a point where mental health issues have only increased. More girls are experiencing depression, anxiety, thoughts of hurting themselves, drinking or smoking and overall struggle with school and at home. 

Girls all across the world struggle with the effects of social media and with society’s peer pressures, and it’s not going to stop on its own. The end of diet culture, as well as the end of normalizing the abuse of drugs, could save millions of lives. Teenage girls’ wellbeing is increasingly at risk and something needs to be done. 

I have seen my own mental health on a downward spiral, as well as my friends’ and others around me. We have each other as support, but a lot of the time that turns to fueling each others’ bad habits, which causes even more problems. Mental health is a serious issue in teen girls and what many of these girls need most is support. Whether this support is given through schools, at home or outside of either, support is needed. While oftentimes we won’t say it, teen girls thrive off support. It’s the only way this mental health crisis will slowly get better.

Being a teenager isn’t easy, and the common occurrence of drugs, alcohol, mental health disorders and social media trends will not help. Girls all over need help, and there has to be a solution to this, not only to protect the teens of this current generation, but also the next one as well.