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Tiger Times

The student news site of Edwardsville High School

Tiger Times

The student news site of Edwardsville High School

Tiger Times

Underneath the Pink: Year of the Girl Proves Exclusionary in Retrospect

Margot+Robbie+poses+upon+arrival+at+the+premiere+of+the+film+Barbie+on+July+12%2C+in+London.
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Margot Robbie poses upon arrival at the premiere of the film ‘Barbie’ on July 12, in London.

2023 was the year girlhood became a pop-culture phenomenon. 

It was bows and balletcore. It was the color pink, resurrected. It was Taylor Swift commanding roaring stadiums, while “girl dinners” found our feeds, and “Barbie” obliterated the box office.

But there was something beneath the pink and the pop stars that earned 2023 its title of “Year of the Girl.” In its celebration of stereotypical girliness, 2023 saw us rediscover the young women we were before we met the world. We re-invoked the boundless existence we believed possible before life under patriarchy got real.

2023 felt like winning, finally. 

But as I greet 2024 and look back on the Year of the Girl, I realize no one was talking about the fact that our celebration was profoundly one-dimensional. We forgot that there’s still work to be done.

To call 2023 a win for every woman leaves behind the ones who met the struggles of womanhood too early. 

And there is evidence that some girls get treated older, sooner. In 2017, the Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality released a study called “Girlhood, Interrupted: The Erasure of Black Girls’ Childhood.” In it, authors Rebecca Epstein, Jamilia Blake and Thalia González explained the “adultification” of Black girls throughout childhood.

The study, based on surveys, revealed that adults view Black girls ages 10 to 14 as nearly 400% more adult than their white peers. They perceive that Black girls need less nurturing, less protection and less support – that they need less girlhood.

This is just one example, but it does pose a question we probably should’ve asked ourselves in 2023: how can we celebrate women connecting to their girlhood without also acknowledging that some didn’t get a whole one?

In the pop-culture of last year, I see this idea embodied in Beyoncé. The “Eras Tour” wasn’t the only ragingly successful female tour in 2023, but I never see Beyoncé or the “Renaissance World Tour” included in Year of the Girl media. 

Perhaps this is due to the stark difference in how Swift and Beyoncé have chosen to market themselves during their tours. Swift was able to fit right into the year’s girly trends with her sequins and dresses. Beyoncé stuck with her less modest, more mature image.

Was that choice to not even attempt girliness a direct result of the ideas in “Girlhood, Interrupted?” Probably not. But it is interesting that she stayed a woman when the world got girly. 

Then there’s the issue with the fact that the Year of the Girl was built almost entirely around rampant consumerism.

“In 2023, the market conspired to sell us one thing, rendered every which way, and that thing was: girl,” said Isabel Cristo in a column for The Cut.

Get a ticket to “Barbie,” fight for your life for one to the “Eras Tour,” buy that weird skincare product, these clothes and those shoes, and then ask if they come in pink, too. And if you don’t have the disposable income to buy your girlhood back, sorry! You’re out of luck.

So yes, for some women the Year of the Girl was a glorious escape from the world: a portal into the alternate reality that was girlhood. But it was a privileged endeavor at best and blatant white feminism at worst. 

The truth is that girlhood is not an aesthetic that can be bought, and presenting it as such ignores those whose experiences were not pretty, pink and tied up with a bow.

 

About the Contributor
Sami McKenney, Opinion Editor
Sami McKenney is a junior, a second-year journalism student, and the opinion editor of The Claw and Tiger Times Online. She is co-president of Creative Arts Club and a member of the Women’s History and Empowerment Club, NFHS, French Club, and the Ethics Bowl team. Outside of school, Sami can be found almost every day at Turning Pointe Academy of Dance, either in classes or in rehearsal for its pre-professional company: Tour Dance. Additionally, she is an avid reader, cat lover, and Taylor Swift enthusiast. She hopes to pursue a career in journalism and is extremely grateful to be part of such a supportive program and capable team of staff members with whom to start her journey!