After seeing an article on Huffington Post Teen (that sparked a lot of discussion on twitter) about how YA novels are giving teen girls false ideas about love I kind of disagreed – to a point. Yes, teenage girls are going to talk about boys (and girls) and vice versa. It’s what has happened in our society for years. And it’s not just teenagers. Many adults will see a hot stranger in a bar and sneak glances all through the night while they nurse a scotch on the rocks (I’m not an adult so I don’t really have an idea about how you guys talk about your crushes etc. so I’m being hypothetical).
Firstly, it’s not just YA novels that portray love as this fabulous thing that happens in an instant – it’s also TV and film. Why do I never see people worrying that Richard Curtis romcoms are going to make us hope that an age appropriate Thomas Brodie- Sangster is going to outrun airport security to wish us a Merry Christmas and tell us he loves us? Why do I never see articles about how Friends is turning us into delusional romantics what with its candlelit proposals and “I got off the plane” lines?
Secondly, while I do think that YA novels are more relatable and accessible because the characters are Young Adults (just like us), it’s not just teenagers that read YA. One third of adults read YA – why aren’t we worrying about them? In a society where a Pinterest worthy life is the dream for many adults (I know that’s not everybody – but a significant amount) and Facebook feeds are filled with cute proposal/wedding pictures, why do we never worry that adults aren’t being turned into soppy romantics? Because we think adults should know better. But they don’t always do. All you have to do is take one look into the Jane Austen fandom and you’ll find that a vast majority (from ages 18-80) are still waiting for their Mr Darcy.
To say that it is teenagers, and more specifically, teenage girls are being false fed information about love & romance, I find that maddening. Yes, we are impressionable and I know many girls (and boys) that spend their days daydreaming about how the local bad boy is secretly a sensitive Peeta Mellark type and will serenade them with an Ed Sheeran song outside their bedroom window and so on but I also know many teenagers including the author of this article and myself who have fallen in love with “…ideologies and feminism” etc. But has anyone actually thought why teenagers believe the soppy clichés and the glamorisation of love? It’s because the idea that love will save us and love will find a way is quite easy to truly believe and so we blur the lines between reality and fiction because when we’re dealing with all the stress that comes with exams, maintaining friendships, balancing work life with social life and everything else in between, a concept like love that people have been trying to describe for millennia, is explained as being sugary sweet and perfect and never hard – we buy it because we need something easy and perfect. We need to believe that something in life is easy and can happen to anyone no matter the circumstances.
So, to conclude, YA novels aren’t the only ones to blame here – it’s also film, TV, the media and being a teenager in general. However, it’s also important to remember that not all teenage girls (and teenagers in general) are convinced that the latest YA hero/heroine archetype is going to appear in our school as a transfer and fall madly in love with us – we might just like the action & drama.
*I know this post was kind of rambly and ranty but thanks for reading*
Let me know your opinions in the comments!