Below is the letter, reprinted with permission, from a 15-year-old girl at a major girls high school in Sydney.
Her email came only a few hours after I addressed the 1000 girls attending this school. Lila’s letter provides us an intimate account of what it’s like to be a teen girl today. She writes profoundly about body images pressures, about pressure to be sexually active before being ready, about pressures from friends and society. And while much of what she expresses is cause for concern for anyone who is concerned about the physical, mental and emotional wellbeing of girls, her words also contain hope.
Because Lila has decided to make her own way, according to her beliefs and values, and not let other people and the world choose her path. She has chosen to be strong and to resist and to find a better way for herself.
I asked Lila if I could share her letter with you. She said yes. We just changed her name to protect her a little.
You spoke at my school this morning and i was very shocked by the sexploitation around our communities. There is just so much of it, that we live by it without noticing sometimes. One thing you didn’t mention was how friends can pressure their other friends. I know this for a fact as i have not developed big boobs, and yet my friends find that it is important to point it out as if it was a bad thing…”Lila, no offence but you are so flat chested…”
I have developed an idea of what my body should be as most girls do…bigger boobs, shinny, perfect hair, absolute clear skin, and i have even thought about getting plastic surgery, as peer pressure has affected me. I’m only 15. But once you began to speak and i listened to how absolutely foolish i had been to fall into my friends traps and our societies trap of perfection i began to feel better about myself and i felt quite strongly about this subject.
Perhaps you haven’t heard this before, but being a member of my age group, or generation…i know that girls who are from 12 to 16 who have given blow jobs to boys as if it was normal to do so. I know this is wrong as my mum and I are very close and I grew up in Brazil, where I had never heard of such a thing. I think that, girls going through puberty, who have just entered the world of high school and teenage issues, they hear things about BLOW JOBS AND HAND JOBS AND SEXXX! And they are too afraid to ask their parents for advice in that area, and their friends don’t know any better, so they turn to magazines for advice (Dolly and Girlfriend) which are full of sexploitation and advice about boys and sex. Of course…those girls have no sense of right or wrong and sex becomes something that is totally natural to happen at their age…I have indeed asked my friends if they would give a boy a blowjob and some already have, and some say they would give into it with no hesitation.
Internet also helps this issue by miles. Porno is so easily found, and i have watched it once with my friends when i was 12. I thought: “I know nothing about it, and in a couple of years i’ll be expected to do something about it, so if i watch this i’ll know what sex is really like and what i’m meant to do.” I’m not the only one. There is millions of us, clueless teenagers that need some guidance, and if your parents won’t give it to you…WHO WILL?
In the next few years, I’ll be facing some issues such as sex and all, and before i felt as if i had to face that by the age of 16 or 17 to not be left out, I can now say…I’ll do it when I feel like it. There is no DUE DATE for it…I’m going to wait until i meet some very nice boy who respects me and loves me for who I am and for what I like and who is patient and caring enough to wait for me for as long as he needs to, because i can now see it all very clearly, it’s like you yanked a sheet off the secrets of “beauty” and released the inner feminist within me.
I probably have loads more to say, but it all escapes my mind right now.
Thank you so much for coming around and talking to us about it…My views have changed and my choices that i make will surely benefit from your speech today.
P.S. Do you have any ideas on what I should say the next time by friends bug me about my “flat chest”?