Making A Change To Stereotypes

Lately, all I hear on the radio or TV and read in the newspapers are negative comments about teenagers and adolescents. Statements are flying around and have always been flying around, stereotypes of teenagers not doing much and not having interests in anything other than themselves. I want to prove that this is not true, period. Teenagers have a lot to say about society, this, I learned in sixth form – many people have differing views like any other social group within life.

Growing up and around the social media age, many adolescents are surrounded by different views and are able to find out more information on subjects that were around before. The likes of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr etc. show the excessive need for information – you can easily become friends with people all over the world and form relationships. You can learn more about society through these people and therefore you can gain new views on differing subjects.

I took to my social media accounts and contacting friends from around the world to prove that teenagers know what they want and how to change it. Take a look.

Adam, 17, England

Are you happy with the country that you live in right now? If no, why not? I simultaneously like and dislike England: the culture is rich and we have access to health care and education, but the way our country is run is a drawback. Also there’s nothing to compare to Paris.

What was your aspiration when you were younger? Has this changed now? When I was younger I wanted to be a professional musician after I took up playing piano at age 7 but now I want to be a journalist or writer.

(If yes, why do you think it changed?) My aspirations have changed due to a growing awareness of culture and literature.

What are three albums that really define you or have shaped you as a person?

  • Abbey Road by The Beatles: the first album I remember listening to from beginning to end, I was about 8 when I heard it and it opened up a whole new world of music for me.
  • Lungs by Florence and The Machine: much like Abbey Road this album again introduced me to a whole new range of music. It was after hearing this album that I began to discover different genres of music.
  • (500) Days of Summer soundtrack: clichéd I know but this film was the turning point for me. It opened my eyes to the world of film and art and music and was probably the starting point for my aspirations of being a writer.

Do you think we live in an equal society right now? If no, what should change? No pure society is not equal. Whilst we pride ourselves in having an equal society we don’t have the equal society to back that pride up. We live in a society where people are very rich and very poor, where race still causes conflict and gender differences leads to less opportunities for women. Whilst we live in a more equal society than 40 years ago, ours is far from equal.

Is gender relevant to economic, social and cultural rights? Of course gender is relevant! Gender has been relevant to those factors for hundreds of years and it’s still the case. Gender can sometimes define aspects of society but it shouldn’t. Gender should be the last thing that is relevant when someone applies for a job or publishes an article etc.

Do you believe the statement: “fashion is competitive”? Fashion has always been and will continue to be competitive. We define ourselves by how we dress and that image that we create is used to assert our position in society. The industry and the reality of fashion is completely competitive.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given? Best piece of advice…hmmm… I once watched an interview with writer Tavi Gevinson where someone asked her about her unique style and she replied with: “Well I don’t have to look at it”. It seems trivial but her attitude towards self-confidence was kinda inspiring and it’s helped me to care less about what’s on my body and more about what’s in my head.

We live in a society right now, where teenagers are being pushed more than they have ever been. In terms of exams, pressures from society and the media, do you think that this is true? If so, do you think it’s worth the pressure? Yes I think it’s entirely true that we are pressured a lot. Possibly too much. We need less focus on pressure and more focus on helping kids through their education. If we were taught well and were supported consistently in our learning we wouldn’t need to be pressured.

What do you believe should be taught in schools, that you were never taught? I believe that we should be taught Politics in school from maybe the age of 11. I know people who went to vote this year but had no idea what each party wanted or which values they held. I think it’s ridiculous that the government of the future may be voted for by people who have no idea who they’re voting for.

Finally, what stereotype of teenagers should be left behind? I wish people would stop stereotyping teenagers as violent, out of control lunatics. This isn’t Quadrophenia! I hate that stereotype so much. It’s an attitude created by people who were too scared of change and sadly it’s stuck.

 

Madeleine Lynch, 18, England

Give me a little description of yourself (how old are you, where are you from, what’s your name)? My name’s Madeleine Lynch, I’m 18 years old and currently living in Halstead, Essex. I attended Colchester Sixth Form College and am now hoping to move onto the University of Manchester to study Politics and German.

Are you happy with the country that you live in right now? If no, why not? Only last week the UK took first place in the soft power rankings (http://tinyurl.com/qyzobgy) and being born in a country that so many others desire to live in, in my opinion makes us very lucky and it would be wrong to say that I am not happy here, however I definitely would like to see some things changed, such as our electoral system (First Past the Post) as I believe it is the direct cause of our democratic deficit.

What was your aspiration when you were younger? Has this changed now? –

(If yes, why do you think it changed?) –

What are three albums (soundtracks or compilations don’t count) that really define you or have shaped you as a person?

  • My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy – Kanye West: Before hearing this album I had a stereotypical view of rap music – that it wasn’t ‘real music’ and one phrase that I remember is “rappers attempting poetry”and it’s amazing how wrong I was. This album completely kick-started my love for rap music and my obsession with Kanye West and taught me to listen to as much new music as possible from every type of artist out there.
  • Hot Fuss – The Killers: I think the Killers will always be my favourite band as they’re the band that reminds me of car journeys with my parents and happy memories in general. I adore every single song on this album.
  • Riot! – Paramore: This is a throwback to my 13 year old scene phase however I can’t ignore that part of my life! I still cry of excitement when I see Paramore live and I think that the fact that a band and an album can do that to a person shows they’re a huge part of your life.

Do you think we live in an equal society right now? If no, what should change? The fact that there has been a recent surge of feminism and the fight for LGBT+ rights illuminates that we do not live in an equal society. Not only this, but the gap between the richest and poorest of society seems only to be growing. These issues are difficult to change but are significantly helped by social media (a recent example is the showing of Mecca on Snapchat, which has shown a different side to Islam that is not usually portrayed, a brilliant way at combatting prejudice) and demonstrations such as Pride and Anti-Austerity.

Is gender relevant to economic, social and cultural rights? Definitely, men and women are affected differently through economic, social and cultural rights. Where there are high amounts of discrimination against girls, such as the refusal of education and forced marriage in some cultures, it is wrong to assume that men are not affected and this is why the feminist movement needs to continue strongly.

Do you believe the statement: “fashion is competitive”? Personally I believe that everything about fashion is competitive, from people aspiring to be supermodels and doing whatever they can to get there, to designers trying to keep up with the industry in order to stay relevant.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given? I like the phrase “treat people well on the way up, because you might just meet them on the way down”. I think this is relevant to everyone, and simply means just be nice to everyone you meet!

We live in a society right now, where teenagers are being pushed more than they have ever been. In terms of exams, pressures from society and the media, do you think that this is true? If so, do you think it’s worth the pressure? It can be good sometimes to be under pressure, as it can motivate a person to achieve things they maybe could never have achieved on their own, however I don’t agree with the amount of pressure put on teenagers today and I don’t think it’s worth it. When these pressures lead to illnesses including depression, eating disorders, anxiety, etc., it simply cannot be justified.

What do you believe should be taught in schools, that you were never taught? Just general life skills (managing money, job interviews etc.), proper sex education (not just how to put on a condom) and politics. Many people I know think politics ‘isn’t for them’ and that they won’t change anything, and this is saddening considering politics itself means “relating to the citizens”. Lastly I think there should also be strong teachings of other cultures in schools to tackle prejudice.

Finally, what stereotype of teenagers should be left behind? The stereotype that teenagers don’t care about anything. Of course you’re going to think that teenagers don’t care when you’re comparing their thoughts against that of a middle aged, middle class person (especially in the case of politics).

Beau, 18 years old, Gent, Belgium

Are you happy with the country that you live in right now? If no, why not?  I’m pretty satisfied with my surroundings

What was your aspiration when you were younger? Has this changed now? Well, I never really had any ambition before music first hit me in a conscious way. I used to listen to lots of different stuff when I was about 7. My dad was playing music by Missy Elliot and Dr. Dre as well as Toto, Guns and Roses and Oasis. But I guess my first real experience with music was when I first heard Help by The Beatles at the age of 11. That’s when a voice in my head said “fucking hell, I want to be a rockstar”. It hasn’t changed since then.

What are three albums (soundtracks or compilations don’t count) that really define you or have shaped you as a person? I always find this a hard one. I’m a teenager, probably in the prime of my life. Adolescents tend to seek a shambolic and rebellious life. I say, Whatever People Say I am, That’s What I’m not by Arctic Monkeys and Up The Bracket  by The Libertines describe the way of living the teenage life in a perfectly raw way. Love, lads, going out, heartbreaks, drugs and all that. It gives you a whiff of it all. So yeah, those 2 define the hectic part of me. The third one would be The White Album by The Beatles. It’s a very upright, emotional and intimate album. For the hard and lonely days, you know.

Do you think we live in an equal society right now? If no, what should change? Not just yet. But time has shown us that we’re heading the right direction. Over the decades there have been lots of changes around gender equality, racial equality, and sexual equality. As long as there are conservative politicians, we’re all doomed to ever have equal rights.

Is gender relevant to economic, social and cultural rights? That really depends on what culture, religion etc. we’re talking about. I mean, it’s kind of the same thing as your previous question. Gender is relevant. For instance women and men’s wages are different most of the times. In some cultures it’s not acceptable for woman to show their faces. We’re all a bit of a deadbeat on gender equality. By “we” I mean that you can’t blame it on one religion or culture for discriminating one gender. Discrimination is all around us. So I tell you, as long as there are conservative politicians and powerful economics, businessmen, celebrities and all those bellends. There are people too foolish that they follow them blindfolded.

Do you believe the statement: “fashion is competitive”? I believe it is in a way. I mean, there are 2 sorts of people: people who care about fashion and people who don’t. I for instance, care a fair bit. But I mean, yes. It’s competitive for the ones who care about it. Wearing nice clothes is all about attracting and standing out. I count people who follow the new fashions trends and hypes with the people who don’t care about fashion – idiots.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given? Life’s all about having the right connections. True as fuck I reckon.

We live in a society right now, where teenagers are being pushed more than they have ever been. In terms of exams, pressures from society and the media, do you think that this is true? If so, do you think it’s worth the pressure? You know, the whole thing about the importance of school and having a diploma is a big load of bullocks. – especially exams. What’s the use of desperately studying your 200p courses the night before your exam just to forget everything you’ve learned right after you’ve handed in that piece of shit? There’s no use, I tell you. The fucked up thing about this is that when you’ve got a high grade on your exam, you’re tagged as a godlike genius. When you fail, you’re an idiot. But both the idiot and the genius forgot the things they learned. I think the educational system should be less narrow when it comes to tests and such. Basing knowledge and competence on whether you know the solution to the square of 24 divided by 350, or if you could situate Ouagadougou on a world map. That’s absurd! And what about diplomas? There are lawyers working at opticians and there are plumbers who’re living on their private means in their suburban mansions.

What do you believe should be taught in schools, that you were never taught? More morals, philosophy and some more craftsman courses perhaps? I think a child should get the freedom to develop an open minded and creative spirit. And I know the previous courses already exist in schools but they should be more common and general for every single student.

Finally, what stereotype of teenagers should be left behind? That we’re fuckups with good intentions. We’re excused to fuck up some times because the best way to learn from mistakes and life itself is by messing around sometimes. We’re not the wasted generation. We’re a very developed and open minded generation held back by the ones before us, you know what I mean?

Anna, 18, Barcelona, Spain

Are you happy with the country that you live in right now? If no, why not? I am not happy with the country I live in, mainly because of the politics, but there is a part of that in which I can’t complain very much.

What was your aspiration when you were younger? Has this changed now? When I was younger there was a time when I wanted to be a writer, but then I changed my aspirations to more scientific ones. However, this September I am starting English at university and my interest in literature and arts is large. My change from science to humanities came last year when I quickly became very interested in music, arts, culture and literature.

What are three albums (soundtracks or compilations don’t count) that really define you or have shaped you as a person? It is difficult to choose just three albums but I guess they would be: Parklands by The Jesus and Mary Chain, as it was the first album that I liked entirely. Ploughing Into The Field Of Love by Iceage, as it made me realise that music can be very powerful, and finally Sufjan Stevens’ Carrie and Lowell as it came at a very specific time. But as I said, it is difficult to narrow it down to just three.

Do you think we live in an equal society right now? If no, what should change? I don’t think that was live in an equal society. I think that there are loads of things that should be changed, and to do so would be simple and effective. This can be through good education programmes which include everything related to equality and respect.

Is gender relevant to economic, social and cultural rights? I do not think that gender should be relevant when it comes to economy, society and cultural rights. We are all humans and we should all have the same rights no matter what.

Do you believe the statement: “fashion is competitive”?  I think that fashion is competitive in the market but I do not think it is necessarily true when it comes to people and everyday life. Even though some people do take it like that.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given? Someone once told me that I should be confident about myself.

We live in a society right now, where teenagers are being pushed more than they have ever been. In terms of exams, pressures from society and the media, do you think that this is true? If so, do you think it’s worth the pressure? I think that teenagers are pushed more than they have been before, but I do not think this is bad. Maybe there should be a more understanding from older people, parents, teachers, etc. and not push teenagers that much but I also think that teenagers (we) are getting used to being treated weakly (at least this is what I have seen here).

What do you believe should be taught in schools, that you were never taught? I think we should be taught about feminism and equality because I have never been properly taught that and never really found out about it until I joined tumblr. I also partook in researching myself and I think that there are people out there who are missing out on this.

Finally, what stereotype of teenagers should be left behind? Maybe older people should stop seeing teenagers as people without interest and aspirations because there are a huge number of young people with these two things.

 Oliver Millward, Wolverhampton, England. 18. Green Party member.

Are you happy with the country that you live in right now? If no, why not? I feel privileged to live in a country with a highly developed and effective free point of access healthcare system – to be able to take advantage of free primary and secondary education and to have the option to make use of social security and the welfare state. I live in a country where law generally protects the vulnerable and punishes the greedy more so, than most other nations and we can democratically elect who represents us, so in a global sense I’m lucky to born British really. But that doesn’t mean that the system and nation I live in can’t be improved, and much can be improved in the UK. In the situation of economic hardship, the media, hate groups and political parties demonise the poorest, the troubled and the immigrant, to shift the attention away from the fact that the very economic hardships we face were instigated by greedy bankers and the corporate elite, who dodge hundreds of billions of tax every year.

Taxing them properly would hardly dent the state’s pocket and hardly dent this corporate elites pocket, it’s relatively petty change to them, and if we did this, instead of cutting services and welfare to the poorest in society, we would live in a more equal society. Despite the tremendous work on issues regarding discrimination in our own country such as the Equality Act of 2010 and the Equal Marriage Bill, I’d be a rich man if I had a penny for every time I heard a teenage boy use the word ‘faggot’ or ‘battyboy’ in a derogatory manner, objectify and sexualise women and use micro-aggressions towards ethnic minorities. Though laws are improving the situation from the top in this area, widespread compulsory education in schools and the workplace is needed to stamp out all discrimination, one such idea would be at the time of Eid Mubarak, showing all the wonderful, peaceful celebrations that occur across the world to children of all ages, to help break the stereotype that Muslims are unjustly labelled within our nation.

We need to improve sex education in secondary schools so it’s not so male centric, all we did in our 3 lesson sex education lessons was learn how to put a condom on a dildo and look at pictures of sexually transmitted diseases, how about teaching young men to respect women’s physical and mental health instead of their own pleasure, and maybe they wouldn’t have to think twice about whether to put a condom on.

What was your aspiration when you were younger? Has this changed now? It went from a train driver, to Chef, to Policeman, to Stockbroker and then to Politician real quick. (I’ve always secretly wanted to be a rockstar though).

(If yes, why do you think it changed?) I want to be a politician now because I pay a hell of a lot more attention to the inequalities and failures within society and I want to make a change, and I feel the most effective way of me doing so would be to become a politician.

 

What are three albums (soundtracks or compilations don’t count) that really define you or have shaped you as a person?

  • Gorillaz – Demon Days – This was the first album I ever was bought when I was 8, and I was just totally obsessed, it kinda took me away from my troubles and sent me into a mad singalong and dance, and I still do to this day.
  • Arctic Monkeys – Suck it and See – It was the first time since Demon Days that I was obsessed with an album, it opened my mind and allowed me to look deeper and further into the rock genre and now rock and all its variants is all I really listen to, so that album was pretty ground-breaking.
  • Pink Floyd – Dark Side Of The Moon – Cliche, but it’s just fucking brilliant!

Do you think we live in an equal society right now? If no, what should change? I kinda jumped the gun and put most of stuff relating to that in the first question. But to add to what I said, we definitely don’t in the UK. The way race, gender, sexuality and wealth are measured and dictate opportunity is obscene, and a lot of work is still to be done. But the change I would like to see is for more people to see this as a global issue for the global community. I find it quite ironic that people can talk to you in a conversation about feminism or economic equality without even mentioning the very critical and important factor of race and culture within these issues, I think we have a habit of being whitewashed social justice warriors, we forget that the issues that we fight for don’t just apply to our country, but the whole world. If we approached things in more global sense, perhaps issues could be dealt with more successfully and widespread.

Is gender relevant to economic, social and cultural rights? YES. It’s an issue in the UK, with the wage gap, and the fact that women are ‘less employable’ because they can get pregnant and require maternity leave is ridiculous, a given women will give birth to future taxpayers that will work and be productive in their lives, by having children. If we were to measure it in a purely economic way, this women is in fact helping support the economy that the business who employs that very woman in the first place. The sanitary tax is also obscene to me, why tax sanitary products? The government are effectively taxing the processes that produce future taxpayers? Yes a good requires a price, but they don’t slap a tax on one of every four weeks on men do they!

Do you believe the statement: “fashion is competitive”? Too competitive, for me ‘high’ fashion that the media focuses on  is kinda useless nowadays. It’s not about creativity and Individuality. Fashion isn’t about feeling good about yourself, it’s about wanting to look better than everyone else, It prides itself on material making a person ‘better’, it’s anti-humanistic if you ask me, and then when the mass public see the whole ‘model image’ then they feel pressured to look like their person, and this can lead to eating disorders etc. Everyone is beautiful in nature, in one way or another, it’s not dictated by particular stereotypes and particular features

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given? ‘It doesn’t matter how shit your dancing is, if you look like you’re loving it and you couldn’t give a fuck – well then everyone else will think you’re an amazing dancer’’

We live in a society right now, where teenagers are being pushed more than they have ever been. In terms of exams, pressures from society and the media, do you think that this is true? If so, do you think it’s worth the pressure?  I don’t know where to stand on this issue; I guess you have to dissect different types of pressure. In terms of societal the country we live in is far less stressful in some ways than it has ever been for teenagers and we are very lucky to have access to everything we have. But teenagers are pushed to the edge more than ever, the modern white-centric twisted definition of beauty, is not any worse than it ever has been, but the mass media and celebrity obsessive culture has intensified the manner in which this pressure is dropped on teenagers, we’re constantly reminded of ‘what we are supposed to be like’.

Girls are feeling rock bottom because they don’t look like Kylie Jenner? Black Girls are putting ammonia in their hair to make it straight.  I absolutely hate this, beauty is objective and not one particular thing is perfect or beautiful, different things are beautiful to different people. Our mass media shouts at us that ‘white and skinny is right’ and its one of the biggest issues facing teenagers because it also makes people feel like they are better than others if they fit some twisted criteria. The rest of the world pays attention to what our media says, and now we have the situation where 50% of young women in Nigeria bleach their own skin to look whiter.

In terms of education, I think we are a hell of a lazy country in the way we approach education, we have access to free, high quality access to knowledge un yet if we take a step back and look at ourselves in the mirror most of us can honestly say we could have tried a lot harder, so I think an element of pressure does need to put on us to make sure we engage in education properly. However I do understand why people might not be interested in education in the UK or not feel that the pressure put on them is justified, we have an outdated and rigid curriculum that neither gives people an option to be creative and independent and an examination system that benefits the most literate and often those with access to the most resources and stable childhoods. Examination doesn’t examine understanding or interpretation it examines literacy and memory. So if our examination is so shit, why the hell should we be pressured to engage in it?

What do you believe should be taught in schools, that you were never taught? Nationwide, get every year eleven lad and sit them in room and watch a documentary about women’s experiences of rape, catcalling and abuse – we can’t solve this issue by not talking about it, we need to hit the nail on the head and give the raw truth on this issue. Proper sex education that isn’t male-centric and totalled to 2 and half hours of my 7 year secondary education.

Mandatory lessons about mortgages, loans, taxes and basic finance management. Most of the people who leave education at 18 have no knowledge of any of these things, and to me that is ludicrous.Oh and mandatory unbiased politics lessons throughout all of secondary education so people actually have a clue about who to vote for and what each party represents and then the context around that to if what these parties say is actually true.

Finally, what stereotype of teenagers should be left behind? That we’re incompetent, irresponsible and should respect our elders. I genuinely love elderly people and we should always respect our parents. But I fundamentally disagree with a lot of the last generations and the generation before that’s conservative and xenophobic viewpoint.

Olive, 17, currently lives in Cornwall but was born in Hackney

Are you happy with the country that you live in right now? If no, why not? How could you be? I hate the Conservative government and their relentless attacks on the young and the poor – from tuition fees to maintenance grants to child tax credit cuts.

What was your aspiration when you were younger? Has this changed now? (If yes, why do you think it changed?) I used to want to be an author but then I realised that I didn’t have the patience to plan a whole book. I now want to be a film director but I’m still plagued by the same problem! I just developed an obsession with watching films so that if someone asked if I’d “seen that film” I could say yes. It started as something I had to prove to myself, but before I realised it grew into a passion and now I want to spread that love to other people. Also we need more diverse and realistic interpretations of teenagers on screen and I want to change that!

What are three albums (soundtracks or compilations don’t count) that really define you or have shaped you as a person? I can definitely say ‘Goo’ by Sonic Youth and ‘Let Love In’ by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, but the last one is harder. I should probably pick something really cool but in reality it’s probably something like ‘In Love’ by Peace that really defined my life a couple of years ago. Although Cherry Glazerr, Spiritualized, Beach House and Slowdive are all contenders.

Do you think we live in an equal society right now? If no, what should change? It’s ignorant to think that we live in an equal society. The government is increasing the class gap, whilst racist attacks happen on an almost weekly basis, as seen in the awful Sandra Bland story that’s making the news right now. Sexist, Islamophobia, ableism, transphobia, bi-erasure, homophobia, anti-Semitism amongst others prevail in 2015. I don’t know why we stand for it.

Is gender relevant to economic, social and cultural rights? Of course it is, it always has been and likely always will be

Do you believe the statement: “fashion is competitive”? Yes

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given? Nothing I’ve been told has ever really stuck with me. Most advice I hear is so cliché and boring that I just instantly forget it. I usually advise myself; I’m currently trying to live without fear.

We live in a society right now, where teenagers are being pushed more than they have ever been. In terms of exams, pressures from society and the media, do you think that this is true? 100%. Whilst I was doing my AS-Levels in May I was having a breakdown pretty much every day. Now they’re over and I can relax for a little bit but I still get upset a lot and the media doesn’t help. Oh and it doesn’t get better, the upcoming year will be so much worse.

If so, do you think it’s worth the pressure? I love being a teenager but it fucking hurts.

What do you believe should be taught in schools, that you were never taught? Politics and gender issues.

Finally, what stereotype of teenagers should be left behind? Everything in the song ‘Teenage Girl’ by Cherry Glazerr.

Ksenia, 19 years old, From Moscow but moved to Paris 4 years ago. Art student in Strasbourg

Are you happy with the country that you live in right now? If no, why not? I am. Compared to Russia, France is a way safer and happier place. It’s wealthy, it has a rich history and an interesting culture. However, the longer I stay here, the more I notice the negative issues such as bureaucracy, relations between social classes and defects in education system. I’ve grown with a lot of illusions and myths about European countries that are now dispelled.

What was your aspiration when you were younger? Has this changed now? I was always interested in fine arts but I never really considered being an artist was a real profession. When I was younger I thought society didn’t take artists seriously, but when I moved to Paris I realized that there’s nothing else I could be. My current ambition is to develop my own way of expression and defy the viewer.

(If yes, why do you think it changed?) The people I met here and the school I went to taught me to concentrate on who I really am. Here, you can be different from the others; you’re understood or at least respected. I’ve found the freedom, the space to develop myself in a right way. It is something that was missing when I was living in Moscow.

What are three albums (soundtracks or compilations don’t count) that really define you or have shaped you as a person? It may sound ridiculous but I’d say two first Arctic Monkeys’ albums (Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not; Favourite Worst Nightmare) and their last one (AM). I used to be a crazy fan of them. Their music helped me to go through the worst and the best moments of my life. I can’t say I listen to Arctic Monkeys a lot now (thank god I discovered a lot of other artists, so I’m not a monomaniac anymore), but they are still my favourite band.

Do you think we live in an equal society right now? If no, what should change? We do not live in an equal society, and I think the list would be too long if we think about all the inequality issues that are present today. It all depends on countries and cultures of course. For example, French society is way more equal than Russian, but the context is not at all the same, so I can’t say that we can compare those two. For a developed and rich country, France has too many unsolved problems concerning sexual, social and racial equality. And this is what we should concentrate on, instead of comparing different cultures that exist in a totally different context saying “look, women can’t even show their faces in public there, what are you unhappy about?”

Is gender relevant to economic, social and cultural rights? It is. As a girl, woman, I can’t be indifferent to the fact that inequalities exists on all levels of our life: personal, professional and social. We are still stuck with the leftovers of the traditional gender roles, sexism and transphobia are still real things, for instance, and I find it sad that many people don’t see it and don’t consider this as an actual problem.

Do you believe the statement: “fashion is competitive”? The way we dress defines our personality a lot. The older I get, the more I work on my appearance – I want my look to reflect who I am. In French we say: “c’est la robe qu’on salue” (this is the dress that welcomes). A similar saying exists in Russian, meaning that your mind will get noticed later on.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given? Visualize things you really want. Live with the thought that you’re going to achieve what you want soon or late, but it will happen, and that there’s no other options. It really works by the way.

We live in a society right now, where teenagers are being pushed more than they have ever been. In terms of exams, pressures from society and the media, do you think that this is true? If so, do you think it’s worth the pressure? It is true and no it doesn’t worth pressure. My parents tried to put the less pressure they can on me. At first I thought they just didn’t care about my life at all, but now I’m very thankful about that. They gave me the space I was talking about before, to develop and discover myself. Pressure speeds our lives up, and we may miss opportunities that are good for ourselves while chasing for good grades and trying to meet someone’s expectations. The less pressure there is the more independent and mature the person gets. Teenagers need to have a safe place where they can grow as personalities, and they need to be trusted.

What do you believe should be taught in schools, that you were never taught? Schools must provide a possibility to have open discussions with your teachers; there must be a possibility of having debates and expressing your opinion. Not only would it help us to formulate our opinions in a discourse, but also to develop a sensibility for actual problems. In France, there’s a huge lack of communication between teachers and students. Also, philosophy classes are a great thing.

Finally, what stereotype of teenagers should be left behind? All teenagers are different. But I think there’s one thing that unites us – we are indifferent. We want change; we’ve got energy and fresh ideas. We are the next generation to rule this world, and who knows; maybe we will solve the biggest issues that exist today.

Laura, 18, Paris

Give me a little description of yourself (how old are you, where are you from, what’s your name)? My name is Laura, I am 18 years old, living in Lucerne, Switzerland, born in Berlin. At the moment I have taken a year of in Paris but afterwards I want to study international relationships, sociology or law. I really want to go back to Berlin!

Are you happy with the country that you live in right now? If no, why not? Living in a prosperous country such as Switzerland is definitely great; I almost can’t say that I’m not happy in my country.  I feel privileged to live in a country with the freedom to express my opinion, there are very good possibilities of education, high quality of life etc. But at the same time I don’t get along well with the Swiss mentality, lots of people have outdated views of the economy, politics, behaviour, environment/ecology etc. but I think, and hope there’s a change coming.

What was your aspiration when you were younger? Has this changed now? When I was a kid, all I wanted to do is save the world, all the trees and animals. I can remember one time my neighbour wanted to cut down a few trees and I cried all day and I wanted to chain myself up so they couldn’t cut down the trees. I found freedom, independence and understanding and that’s what has not really changed. Today, I am more realistic but I basically want the same things to change. I see more political and economic connections and how the world works. I want to get to the bottom of all these problems and that’s one reason I want to study international relationships. You see I became more rational.

What are three albums (soundtracks or compilations don’t count) that really define you or have shaped you as a person? I thought about this question for a long time, but with The Beatles, Whatever People Say I Am That’s What I’m Not (Arctic Monkeys) , Franz Ferdinand (Franz Ferdinand) They are my favourite albums which have a lot influence and define me. I discovered them through my brother (thank you for this xxx)

Do you think we live in an equal society right now? If no, what should change? No. Recently, I often ask myself if an equal society is even possible. It’s out of touch with reality to think that somewhere you can find or create an equal society. This sounds so terribly pessimistic but I guess it’s the truth. Especially when you think about the fact how little we actually get or hear. I could talk and write for hours about this subject, but to create change the actual situation I would like to show (all over the world) how important it is to change to a more equal society. We have to bear responsibility, even if it’s not always in the comfort zone. Don’t wear blinders, folks!

Is gender relevant to economic, social and cultural rights? Of course. You can’t ignore the fact that women and men aren’t affected the same way through economic, social and cultural rights. Although, compared to the past, it has changed a lot but the actual situations aren’t enough. We have to push this movement, too.

Do you believe the statement: “fashion is competitive”? Yes, it is but that’s what makes fashion: it boosts itself, and the side effect is that everyone want to create better things. So there’s a competitive pressure, spirit and environment. But this is not always bad! Sometimes fashion can be magic, and don’t forget the exceptions: fashions can also be nothing more than just “being”.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given? Don’t be afraid of making mistakes of any kind of thing. The grandpa of one of my best friends told me this.

We live in a society right now, where teenagers are being pushed more than they have ever been. In terms of exams, pressures from society and the media, do you think that this is true? If so, do you think it’s worth the pressure? Definitely true, but it is worth it? Sometimes, not always. It depends. Olive from Cornwall got to the heart of it: “I love being a teenager but it fucking hurts” I couldn’t have said it any better.

What do you believe should be taught in schools, that you were never taught? To be entitled to your own opinion and to speak for oneself – and grades do not say everything about your intelligence and competence.

Finally, what stereotype of teenagers should be left behind? Teenagers don’t care about anything and just smoke weed and drink. Generally: stop measuring everything with the same yardstick!

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