Winning teens pen their views on the issues of being a girl

ANXIETY, feminism and society's demand for perfection were all topics raised in the YEP's high school blogging competition - and today we can announce the winner.

Tuesday, 8th March 2016, 11:49 am
Updated Tuesday, 8th March 2016, 11:51 am
Esther Frempong, 16 and Francesca Hunt, 16. PIC: Bruce Rollinson

The standard was so high we have selected two teenagers in first place after we asked girls aged 11-18 to write on an issue for International Women’s Day.

And today to mark the occasion we are printing the entries by both winners Francesca Hunt and Esther Frempong, aged 16, from Corpus Christi Catholic College.

A selection of the entries will be printed and put online over the coming days. Marie Coleman, Curriculum Leader of English at Corpus Christi, said: “I am always delighted when our students write something they are proud of. I am especially delighted that Esther and Francesca have had their work publicly recognised by the YEP; what a lovely accolade and a tremendous achievement.

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“Teenage girls have a voice about issues that matter. They are our women of the future. I’m so proud of them. They are wonderful ambassadors for their school Corpus Christi.”

Nicola Furbisher, editor of the YEP, said: “All the entries we received were of a very high standard and it was great to hear the views of young people and to give them a chance to say what they feel is important. We really enjoyed reading them all and thank everyone who took part.”

Francesca Hunt, 16, Corpus Christi Catholic College, Leeds

“What does it mean to do something, “like a girl?”

I recently attended one of my younger brother’s football matches. The ball went out for a throw in. Exhausted after a long game, a boy stepped forward and hurled the ball – it travelled a good few centimetres before landing, unremarkably, on the sodden soil.

“What was that? Come on Danny, you throw like a girl!”

Appalled. Are people really still using “like a girl” as an insult? Sexist, derogatory,undermining.

The speaker was not, as you may have imagined, a beer-belly bloated bloke stuffed full of antiquated views (the kind irreverently spouted over a pint), but shockingly, a young boy.

An innocent, impressionable young lad, brought up in a world where equality is more prominent than ever before? Since the emancipation of women in our country, women have risen through the ranks and are continuing to do so in all walks of life.So how have we as a society allowed this sickeningly sexist travesty to happen? Everybody needs to know that “girl” is not synonymous with pathetic nor lame nor weak. Have you decided? What does it mean to you?

I’m a 16 year old girl. I think, actually, that boy DID throw like a girl, because he tried his BEST. For me, to be a girl, is to be unique - to be whatever you want to be. To do something to the best of your ability. To not falter in the face of adversity but strive for success no matter what. Be proud of who you are.

So to every girl reading this: let’s show them, together, what it really means to do something “like a girl.” Written “like a girl.”

Esther Frempong, 16, Corpus Christi Catholic College

Guess what? I just made the cut. I am, “pretty for a black girl”… What’s that supposed to mean?Being told that you’re, “pretty for a black girl,’’ has a damaging effect. The words are bullets that make the reflection in the mirror a grotesque sight. As if beauty is subjective to my skin! Something so natural and nonchalant can make me abhor myself.

Should I be ashamed of my ebony? My lips are disproportionately large, like they have been stung by a bee. My nostrils are wide and colossal as the ocean. My hair defies the laws of gravity, thus standing upwards. And my skin a coat given to me by my ancestors.

This was how I saw me. This is essential to me – a black girl – because I am just pretty. When those words are reiterated, it implements to my mind – our minds – that because I am black you were expecting me to be: grotesque, unappealing, uneasy on the eye. Instinctively, we disguise ourselves as lions, to display our roar, when in reality our roar is a whisper.

They’re incorrect. I will not apologise for my blackness, my boldness, my beauty!

Alternatively, I want my fellow black girls, or anyone who feels as though they’re being reprimanded for how they look, that they are enough!

Our lips are voluptuous and full. Our nostrils are spacious but they complete our faces. Our hair doesn’t succumb to social norms, but our curls are intricate spirals which descend from the crown of our heads. Our ink like skin placed in the hand of God himself, used to write poetry.

This is how I view myself now. Don’t you know there is substance to your being?

Finally, readers, you’re splendorous. Know it. Be it. Live it.