This advert has been running for more than a year (see, for example, Nerdy Feminist's Oct. 2014 post on it), and I have seen it no fewer than eleventy trazillion times, and every single time it irritates the shit out of me.
Video Description: A white family—Mom, Dad, Teenage Sister, and Little Brother—sit around the table in their clean, white, upper middle-class kitchen. Teenage Sister is telling a story about something that happened with her school friends in rapid-fire speech. Dad listens with feigned interest. Mom gives her a patronizing smile. A female voiceover says: "This story had 30 minutes left—" Teenage Daughter says: "—was that he was with Jessica," before pausing to take a bit of mac and cheese. The voiceover continues: "—until Kim realized that Stouffer's mac and cheese is made with real aged cheddar." Teenage Daughter dreamily savors the mac and cheese. Dad prompts her: "So what about Jessica?" Teenage Sister replies, "What about her?" Voiceover: "Stouffer's: Made for you to love."And, apparently, made for you to shove in your teenage daughters' mouths so they shut the fuck up about dumb stuff, like their lives.
I know, I know—I'm the Most Humorless Feminist in all of Nofunnington! Don't I understand it's all just in good fun? After all, surely we can all agree that teenage girls are annoying and vapid and talk too much and must be silenced!
I am reminded of this great video by Sabrina, aka NerdyAndQuirky, which I linked in a blogaround earlier this year [CN: video autoplays at link]: "Stop Being Shitty to Teenage Girls."
Sabrina, a young thin woman of color, wearing a blue t-shirt and black framed glasses, appears onscreen in front of walls decorated with National Geographic covers. She says:Sabrina makes a bunch of really great points here, but I want to highlight her observation that teenage girls' enthusiasm is indicative of a feeling of belonging.
Hello, welcome to NerdyAndQuirky. It's been awhile since I made a rant, but I am angry! I just came back from VidCon, only to find an article that called it a "scream fest where teenage girls chase YouTube stars through the halls." One: Really inaccurate! Aside from a few incidents, VidCon was mostly just people mulling around, trying to connect to Wifi. And two: Can we please stop being so mean to teenage girls?! PLEASE?!
Yes, I know I'm a little bit biased being a 17-year-old girl. But this article wasn't alone in its condescending attitude towards young women. The media has this really degrading way of using teenage girls as a scapegoat for stupidity—and, quite frankly, it's insulting!
For everyone who's ever made a joke about fangirls, or how teenage girls ruin everything you love: Listen up, because I'm gonna lay this out for you like a real nice buffet table.
One: This is the salad portion of your meal. And in the salad of fan culture, girls may be the lettuce. We are the most visible, because there are so many of us. But that doesn't change the fact that there may be tomato guys or gender non-conforming croutons wandering around the expo halls, too.
Two: This is the fried food. This is why you came to an all-you-can-eat buffet. And guess what? Teenage girls want it, too! They probably want it more than you do! Because here's the thing: Gender roles present in society right now teach guys to repress any sense of excitement, unless it has to do with sweaty guys putting balls in holes. [images of sports] It's a sucky topic for another time. But girls—we're allowed free rein while we're teenagers. We are taught that it's all right to be wholeheartedly enthusiastic about whatever we love, and it is beautiful!
Whether it's musicians or actors or books or movies or TV shows—if teenage girls like it, they're gonna go ham! You stick a reference on a t-shirt, we'll buy it! You make buttons for it, we'll buy it! You make posters—well, we already got it and stuck it to our walls! You take any piece of media we like, stick it to a cheap piece of plastic produced in China and mark the price up by five hundred percent, we! will! still! buy it!
You wanna know why? It's because in a world that pits teenage against each other, that tells us we have to look prettier or compete over guys, fan culture, fandom, is like a vacation.
You have people who are just as excited over things as you. You have people who will cry over head canons and argue for hours over who the best Avenger is. And that is not a bad thing!
Too many people—myself included!—are starting to react to this excitement with cynicism. That it's immature, or you're falling to the corporate machine! But take a second and pull your head out of your crusty old white philosopher loving ass and realize that what teenage girls are so obsessed over is a feeling of belonging.
And Chris Evans' immaculate body.
And is that so ridiculous?
Number Three: The Heart Burn. You can, in fact, have too much of a good thing. And I won't deny that some fangirls go way too far, whether it's chasing their favorite celebrities or creeping outside their rooms, but, mind you, this occurs almost 100% of the time in conventions, where the mob mentality takes over; where these people—not just teenage girls—crave a unique, one-on-one interaction with their idols.
They have paid countless dollars for this, and some part of their brain makes them think, "This is okay!" Which it's not. It's inexcusable. If you ever think it's okay to do any of that—don't.
But these people are in no way the majority. If 50 people, or 150 people, are lurking where they do not belong, that is still probably at least out of 15,000 people. That is about 1%; that is the overwhelming minority. So stop acting like a group of overexcited teenagers are ruining the world.
Number Four: The Dessert. Here's a pie, or a cake, that I'm going to rub in your face if you don't already get my point. Every celebrity that you have ever idolized—I can promise you that the driving force behind their rise to fame was teeage girls.
Because that enthusiasm, that willingness to wait hours in line to say hello and maybe snap a selfie with their idol, that downright desire to buy any cheap trinket that can help advertise their love—that's what makes people famous.
So the next time you find yourself making fun of a teenage girl being excited, take a step back, realize how sad your life has gotten that you're getting angry over someone's happiness, and just go find something you enjoy.
I'd tell ya to fuck off, but you don't need that. What you need is to embrace your inner teenage girl and do something you love doing without caring how stupid you look while doing it.
Please share this video. I know it won't stop media from hating teenage girls, but I hope to at least make a dent. Hit "like" to help support one such teenage girl, and I will see you on Tuesday.
In fandom, among their friends, and in their families.
The silencing of female people starts young, and it intensifies exponentially when we become teenage girls, just as many of us are becoming increasingly vocal about our lives and loves. Just as many of us feel ourselves bursting with an intensity of emotion, of unfettered exuberances and Hindenburgian heartbreaks, we are told to be quiet.
And that silencing is justified on the basis that nothing we says even matters, anyway.
We are told that we have nothing of value to say, and so we should say nothing at all. And this policing and silencing continues well into adulthood, where many of us struggle to find our voices and esteem for years. Some of us forever.
So yeah. I don't find it particularly amusing when a company says, "Shove our food into your teenage daughter's mouth to shut up her useless babbling." Because I know all too well how much the world really hates teenage girls, and what they have to say.