Young women growing up in Canada don’t have it easy. 

No one has it “easy” as a teenager, but with the ever-increasing impact of social media and unrealistic beauty norms, adolescent girls are bombarded with societal pressures. 

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And according to Canada-wide Ipsos survey commissioned by the Girl Guides of Canada (GGC), the pressures placed upon female teenagers in Canada is seriously affecting their self-esteem. 

55% of female participants said the need to look and act a certain way, as reinforced to them by societal expectations, has negatively affected their self-esteem. 

Unsurprisingly, this is the worst for those who use social media. 

Simply being “a girl,” is a stressor, with 59% of survey respondents saying they feel pressured to “conform to unrealistic standards” placed upon their gender. 

More than half of girls, 56%, also said that they’re getting mixed messages on the way they are “supposed” to act and dress. 

This even extends to the way girls think they need to look. 60% of girls feel pressure to fit into societally-approved beauty standards, which can sometimes be conflicting. One in five girls surveyed said they feel the need to be skinny while also having curves.

The ways in which girls are told to act, and how that influences their behaviour, is just as troubling:

  • 59% of girls feel the need to act in a certain way because society tells them to.
  • 30% of girls didn’t take up a sport because it’s not traditionally associated with women.
  • 24% of girls don’t want to pursue a career of their choice because of unfair pay-differenced between men and women.
  • 16% of girls pretend not to like science and math-related subjects out of fear of being ostracized.

“We need to continue to understand what girls in Canada are facing so we can support them to become everything they want to be" said Jill Zelmanovits, CEO of Girl Guides of Canada, in reference to the survey’s findings. 

Zelmanovits is right, of course. 

And hopefully, by addressing these issues, we can take measures to end the problem, because no girl should be told how to act. Like any person, a Canadian adolescent female should be allowed to act like themselves. Is that really to much to ask?

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