Two steps forward, one back

This article in The Economist offers a review of two new books, including “American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers.” by Nancy Jo Sales. Here is an excerpt:

For many girls, the constant seeking of “likes” and attention on social media can “feel like being a contestant in a never-ending beauty pageant”, writes Nancy Jo Sales in “American Girls”, a thoroughly researched if sprawling book. In this image-saturated environment, comments on girls’ photos tend to focus disproportionately on looks, bullying is common and anxieties about female rivals are rife. In interviews, girls complain of how hard it is to appear “hot” but not “slutty”, sexually confident but not “thirsty” (ie, desperate). That young women often aspire to be titillating should not be surprising given that the most successful female celebrities often present themselves as eye-candy for the male gaze. “Everybody wants to take a selfie as good as the Kardashians’,” says Maggie, a 13-year-old.

Such self-objectification comes at a cost. A review of studies from 12 industrialised countries found that adolescent girls around the world are increasingly depressed and anxious about their weight and appearance.

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