A piece on yesterday’s PM programme was about a new video produced by Vogue to tell teenage girls that it’s not realistic to want to look like their models look by showing them what goes into a photo shoot, etc. This is a good idea. But something the contributors all said pricked a particular nerve of mine. They all referred to these teenagers as ‘young girls.’
Many people refer to girls between the ages of, say, 10 and 18 as ‘young girls’. They are not young girls; they are girls. Young girls, surely, like young boys, are pre-10 (at the oldest). Boys of equivalent age are never referred to as ‘young boys’.
Why do I get het up about this? I find the implications of this phrase disquieting: girls of this age are innocent, helpless and – most importantly (and I don’t think I’m reading too much into this) – virginal.
Most of the teenage girls that I’ve encountered are intelligent and savvy. To call them ‘young girls’ would be degrading.