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As crushes go from real-life likes to digital “likes,” the typical American teenage girl is confronted with a set of social anxieties never before seen in human history. He was “really smart, really funny, really athletic, really tall,” she said, eating chips at the long wooden table in the kitchen of her home, an eight-bedroom house on a leafy street in Garden City. “It goes on the best and you can make wings like Audrey Hepburn’s. I watch of them ’cause they give you really good information.”She had ordered the eyeliner on Amazon the night before for next-day delivery. “Garden City kids are sick at sports,” said Matt, a 17-year-old boy at Roosevelt Field, a mall in East Garden City, the 10th largest mall in America; it used to be an airfield.“You work hard, you excel at sports,” Matt said, “you get into an Ivy League school, or even like an N. They see everything in terms of money so that’s how they show their love—through money.” “But a lot of kids who are fuck-ups get whatever they want, too,” his friend Roxanne, 16, observed.
“It was fun to feel like everyone was watching you and it was cool to be able to say, like, I’m part of a modeling agency.”I asked what had made her want to model. “I guess I wanted to do it from seeing models on TV and in magazines—it was like, Oh, if I can be a model, girls will look up to me like I look up to these girls.The media like completely oversexualizes everyone now—in every magazine you see everyone in some sexy outfit.That’s just what we’re shown, and what we’re shown is what we . I mean I would say Miley Cyrus, but it’s kind of controversial.Between its premiere in 2003 and cancellation in 2015, it aired in more than 146 countries. It was a favorite show of many of the beauty-pageant contestants I interviewed in Houston. “I decided I want to be a model from that.” Livia, 16, said, “I’m obsessed with .”As for Lily, she said that she knew she was being influenced by the media even as she was being influenced by the media—they talked about it a lot in her school; there were speakers who came to educate the girls and group sessions where girls expressed their feelings about media pressure.“Oh, yeah, it’s a big deal,” she said. Pop culture and the media really influence girls my age—we’re growing up, finding out who we are and what we want to be.The reality show involves a competition between a handful of aspiring young models with Tyra as their mentor and judge; and Tyra’s judgments can be harsh, not just over contestants’ appearance, but their character and motivation—how much they appear to “want it.” Sometimes Tyra makes fun of the would-be models on the show with a corrective zeal; in an infamous episode, the subject of a viral meme, she shouts hysterically at a girl she feels has not exhibited the appropriate level of commitment, making her weep. We’re becoming comfortable or uncomfortable with our own bodies, and it definitely plays a role in how we feel about ourselves.“I’m confident with .