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Pressure of Conformity

In: English and Literature

Submitted By lynning123
Words 992
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Anissa Nehls

The Pressure of Conformity

Throughout history, society's conception of women and their attributed behavior has changed quite frequently. Popular culture enforces idealistic views, pressuring girls to conform into stereotyped portrayals of the female gender. Seduced by these commonly approved ideals of beauty, many adolescents struggle to fit in with the "cool crowd". Mentally tormented by loss or confusion of personal identity, female teenagers strongly desire the feeling of belonging to a certain group of friends. This usually harmless concept of peer pressure can lead to a teenagers demise, by ultimately including hazardous actions, such as drug and alcohol misuse, teen sex, and even criminal conduct. This dangerous clash of adolescent inexperience and youthful yearning for adventure and danger is portrayed in the two teen movie "Thirteen" and "Mean Girls". Cady and Tracy, the protagonists from these socially critiquing movies, both deteriorate to the prevalent teen royalties, hence destroying relationships with true friends and family.

Thirteen year old Tracy is an exceptional student, gets along with her family and has never been in any sort of trouble before. Although living a fulfilled life, the young girl desires to be friends with Evie, one of the cool girls at school. The urge to fit in and to experience the exhilarating lifestyle Evie seems to lead, Tracy blindly follows and familiarizes with boys, alcohol and even drugs. All these attractions and new ambivalent impressions force Tracy to neglect her true self. In order to be accepted as cool, the confused adolescent starts stealing, gets piercings and steadily slips into a world previously unknown to her. Seemingly content at first, Tracy quickly loses touch to reality and suffers under her own demise, with only her mother as support. Critics describe this movie as: "offering a chillingly graphic depiction of a teenage girls rebellious shift after falling under the influence of a wayward friend" (Thirteen Review, TalkTalk), proving the impact of temptation on a young girls actions. Catherine Hardwicke skillfully illustrates the coming of age story of a young girl who is led by urges of belonging and finding her own identity in an identity deprived world, based on principles of beauty and coolness.

Home-schooled Cady Heron experiences the dramas and social rules of female adolescents after transferring to a public high school for the first time. She makes friends with the wrong kind of people who are socially not accepted, yet teach her about surviving the daily stress of social hierarchy and unwritten girl rules. She soon meets the "Plastics", also called teen royalty, who she becomes friends with in order to fit in. Based on teen female stereotype, Cady has to merge into the commonly acknowledged girly ideal. Turning her own friends against her, failing classes and effecting the relationship with her parents proves the importance of belonging, in contrast to social values and personal morals. Besides the topic of acceptance and fitting in, this movie also animadverts socially aggressive tendencies in teen girls relationships.

Female friendships are often proven to be very close and supportive in contrast to male friendships, yet also exhibit the negative consequences based on social cooperation. Close bonding between the same gender helps adolescents adjust at school, integrate with peers and ultimately aids in a young adults quest for identity. Despite the positive attributes girl friendships obtain, they display many antagonistic features as portrayed in the named movies. Both Cady and Tracy transform in order to fit the ideals of teen cliches and deny their own character, leading to competitive, damaging, and aggressive exposure of themselves and their relations. That constant burden of capitulating to social standards negatively effects their environment and relationship to others, especially family and other friends, both perfectly illustrated in "Thirteen" and "Mean Girls".

Popularity, power and pleasure is what both Cady and Tracy seek throughout their metamorphosis into a cool and popular girl. The movies portray teen aggressions leading to positive rewards such as fame and popularity among peers. Cady mouses her friends trust, disregards school and her family in order to gain respect and a social high role. Tracy not only acts indifferently about friends and school but also gets acquainted with illegal activities and slips into a rebellious and incorrigible role. Both teen girls damage other peoples status, humiliate close friends in order to gain social control and higher their self-esteem. All these actions and self-preserving activities underlines the "amount of pressure that girls have to fit into these groups and how it puts stress on them at such young age" (Margaret Hanson). This illuminates the significance of young girls for a sense of belonging and fitting the ideal of teen popularity, hence makes them act out in negative ways.

Cady and Tracy, two very smart young girls throw away their morals and values in order to adjust to commonly distorted ideas of feminism. The movies portray concepts of backstabbing, silent-treatments and humiliation towards friends as a gateway into popularity. Drugs, alcohol and sex also illuminate the importance of a rebellious spirit, which labels the could kids, both girls are trying to fit in with. On the journey of transformation to fit in, they both lose sight of the importance of life and misuse personal morals and self-respect, corrupting the idea of feminism.

The movies "Thirteen" and "Mean Girls" portray the concepts of gender and the misinterpreted ideas of feminism regarding a sense of belonging. Both protagonists go from good to bad girl, declining and personal morals or social values. The importance of fitting in and being cool is of greater significance than self-respect and doing the right thing, ultimately leading to their demises. Adolescent innocence turns into a rebellious spirit, proving social-aggression and wrong feministic ideals as distorted and fatal in present society.


Hanson, Margaret. "Mean Girls Analysis." Blog.lib. 20 Mar. 2007. Web. 24 Nov. 2011. .

"Thirteen Review." Unlimited Broadband Packages: Broadband and Phone Packages | TalkTalk. Web. 19 Nov. 2011. .…...

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