Lily Allen’s song “The Fear” slams the vacuous world of celebrity as well as offering a poignant insight into the fears I believe many young women are harbouring.
Warning: the clip below contains strong language.
During the research process for my upcoming book, The Butterfly Effect, I had the opportunity to speak at length with many teenage girls who said that they were adept at pretending they were “all over it”, “onto it”, “okay with it”. Many girls wear a Perfect Girl facade.
Underneath, they tell me they actually feel scared, confused, exhausted. And lonely.
“I sometimes think I am the only one who feels like I am not really good enough . . . My friends seem so confident that I am scared to tell them what I really feel . . . I don’t want to look weak.” Julie, 14
“I feel so alone a lot of the time. Like, am I the only one who worries about my weight? Who feels self-conscious wearing clothes that show so much of my body? I feel like maybe everyone else is normal and I am a freak.” Dione, 16
“I am afraid. I can’t show it, as that’s a weakness and I might be targeted by other girls at my school if they see it. But I am afraid a lot of the time. I am scared of not being loved. Of not being noticed, of not getting it right (clothes, music, etc.) and then looking stupid.” Claire, 15
“I am really scared of making a mistake or failing. What would people think of me if I got it wrong?” Paris, 16
“I am scared I will never be beautiful.” Siobhan, 13
When I hear girls talk like this, I feel compelled to work harder to offer them voices of difference. I also suspect that by refusing to talk about the fears we all have, and more importantly how we have also overcome these, we run the risk of pathologising adolescent angst. How I love rock group REM’s line “Everybody hurts, you’re not alone . . . hold on.”
There is much to be gained from being more open about our fears and sharing our own journeys.
What are you scared of, and how might you manage these feelings and triumph over fear?