are weird about young, teenage, outspoken girls* in the public sphere. It’s
either they are put down due to sexism or ageism or held up on this pedestal
like they know best (and I realize that, in some ways, this blog contributes to
that). It’s the problem with words like “woke” and “problematic” and “canceled”
and the very creepy, narrow way it’s approached, especially on sites like
Tumblr. There’s a lot of misdirected anger at a lot of these young girls when
they do something perceived as wrong. Especially when they identify as “activists”
(even though activism is not an identity but a literal demonstration of the
verb ‘act’ and the adjective ‘active’, but that’s another issue for another
day) and are in the business of publicly educating and dispersing knowledge. It’s
like we’ve moved on from the former expectance of controlled young actresses
and singers who never speak out and pepper teen magazines with aspirational and
fantastical imagery, to expecting perfection in a different way—that these
young girls must have perfect ideologies, perfect education, perfect execution.
Maybe it’s partly these young girls’ faults for taking on these
responsibilities that they are unequipped for. Maybe not. Flaws are still
despised in female public figures. Perfection—variant kinds—is still expected.
Maybe that’s (part of) the problem.
Amandla identifies as non-binary but is still publicly
coded as ‘female’ (an adjective she does not completely reject).
“I told my mom, ‘I’m not buying another magazine until I can get past this thought of looking like the girl on the cover’. She said, "Miley, you are the girl on the cover,’ and I was, like, 'I know, but I don’t feel like that girl every day.’ You can’t always feel perfect.”