Reading List: Teenage Girls As Role Models

lorde

Emily Perper is a word-writing human working at a small publishing company. She blogs about her favorite longreads at Diet Coker.

When I was a teenager (I know, plop me in a rocking chair and call me Grandma), I pored over my mom’s Seventeen magazines from the ’70s and ’80s and amassed a huge collection of my own. My 13-year-old style icon was Lindsay Lohan’s character in Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen (I’m proud of that phase), and later, Freaky Friday. I studiously went out to Best Buy one January after reading the music issue of a now-defunct teen magazine and chose CDs that radically altered my future tastes in music. I was on the edge of the “nostalgia in real time” Tavi Gevinson discusses in her latest Editor’s Letter (see below), but didn’t yet have access to the unmitigated internet archivism and alt-teen community. I think part of me is trying to reclaim my teen years as I listen to One Direction at my nine-to-five job, collage and self-consciously drink coffee with a notebook at hand. I’m learning to be a post-teen: all the insecurity of a twenty-something with the creative menace of an adolescent. I’m navigating a transitional space; my role models are teenage girls.

1. “Lorde Sounds Like Teen Spirit.” (Ann Powers, NPR, December 2013)

Her stripped synth beats kicked Miley out of the number one spot, but Lorde’s not finished yet. Ann Powers posits that she’s the Nirvana of pop music and examines the intersection of class and race with Lorde’s bohemian roots and youth experience.

2. “What ‘Forever’ Means to a Teenager: Editor’s Letter.” (Tavi Gevinson, Rookie, December 2013)

Tavi is one of the most self-aware humans on the planet, so it’s no surprise that her analysis of “Forever” (“the state, exclusive to those between the ages of 13 and 17, in which one feels both eternally invincible and permanently trapped”) is stunning and tender and meta.

3. “Time for Teen Fantasy Heroes to Grow Up.” (Laura C. Mallonee, The Millions, November 2013)

I’d also like to add Eliana’s plea: “petition to make young adult authors stop writing about girls whose lives change when they meet a boy.”

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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Mike is the managing editor at Longreads, on the editorial team at WordPress.com, and is the editor of The Billfold. He has written for Bloomberg Businessweek, Pacific Standard, the Chicago Tribune, and other publications.
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