Stereotypes in Young Adult Literature and How it Impacts Young Girls

Ericka Aguilar-Granados, Journalist

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Young adult fiction is a category of fiction which targets readers from 12 to 18 years of age. Common themes related to YA include friendship, first love, relationships, and identity, which is why it’s very important to remember it’s influence to our youth.

In recent years, there has been a trope that is currently covering the pages of many YA books, sending the wrong message to young girls who are just now experiencing the world. In many plots of YA books, there is always a girl who is considered “not like other girls”. Normally, It features a male protagonist who falls for a girl with surprisingly similar interests to him and next to her having no interest in anything overly-feminine. It’s evident that there are many other different story plots that asserts this idea of the “ideal girl”.

The girl with the natural hair and no makeup. The girl who isn’t glued to her phone or who obsess over the school’s prom. You see, this model of a girl all relies on a very harmful idea: This girl is special not because of her interests or her personality or any of her traits – she is special merely because she is different from the stereotypes of her gender.

This fundamental idea of being loved for being anything but a resemblance to your own character is now hurting the conscience of young girls on how they view themselves and others. Young girls should not be taught to be a certain way to be liked by many and be seen apart from their gender. They should be taught to celebrate their diversity and appreciate their interests even if they might be considered “basic”. That they shouldn’t feel like they will be loved less for who they are.

YA writers should write about the essential factors of what makes a character who they are instead of following harmful stereotypes. Girls should read these books and know that being different is okay and being similar like others is also okay. Because if this trope continues, there will be a growing toxic behavior in which women bash other women. We all know that a woman’s treatment to other women, only perpetuates the illusion that women are the inferior sex. Just because a girl likes to take care of her hair and use Instagram does not make her incapable of being loved. The need for more diverse female characters in YA novels is still a present struggle and especially when a harmful trope like this still exists.