September 2007

Report by Fiona Bawdon 

 

Introduction:

‘Am I bovvered? What are teenage girls really thinking?’ was originally the idea of WiJ founder member Ginny Dougary, who first suggested an event to explore what impact the media is having on the ambitions, self-image and aspirations of teenage girls.

 

Ginny’s initial idea was met with great enthusiasm by the WiJ committee. We all agreed it would be a worthwhile and interesting thing for the group to do.  Similarly, the idea has really struck a chord with just about everyone we approached to get involved. Most of the time, once we’d explained the title, we didn’t need to say much more; they were sold.

‘Am I bovvered?’ is an obvious homage to Catherine Tate’s comic anti-heroine Lauren Cooper – but it also neatly encapsulates the fears and concerns that many of us seem to have about the next generation of young women.

But are we right to be concerned; and what, exactly, are we concerned about?

Response to this event seemed to tap into an underlying assumption that something has gone (or is going) wrong with today’s teenage girls. But what is the evidence for that? Hasn’t it always been the lot of young women to be pilloried for their behaviour, dress, and supposed excesses? Has anything really changed?

We hope today’s discussions will help shed light on to what has become a heated debate.

This paper is intended to inform the debate – both at the event itself and beyond. We drew on research from a wide range of organisations to create a unique picture of the concerns, contrasts and contradictions that make up teenage girls’ lives. We drew on research from diverse sources, ranging from  the Girl Guides, to the Independent Advisory Group on Sexual Health, to the Samaritans, to the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Drugs, to the Office of National Statistics.

So, are teenage girls really bovvered?; If so, why and what are they bovvered about?; And should we be bovvered about them?

With the help of the 100 or so teenagers with us today, we are hoping to find out.

 

Read full research here: Wij-Teens-Research21