As teenagers start moving through their adolescent years they begin emerging different identities so they can figure out who they want to be. Being a teenager is a lot of work because it’s this constant time where one must have all the latest styles, find the right clique of friends, think about getting a job, and have the time of your live before having to grow up. It’s the time to be rebellious, creative, and to also think about the future and being an adult. Teens, particularly females, go through many emotions each day because it’s always this fight between which hair style looks the best, how skinny you are compared to others, how many friends you have, how good your clothes look, etc. They are so focused on their peers and fitting in that it tends to dominate over everything else.
In chapter 29 of “Teenage,” Savage talks about the experience of being a teen in the 1940s and the new launch of the Seventeen magazine that emphasized youth culture and what’s popular in the market. It was the magazine just for adolescents that had all the exciting fashion teens desired and self-identified themselves with. This enhanced peer conformity to the crowd because if one didn’t have all the latest styles or brands like everyone else then they were not considered ‘one of the crowd.’ For most young adolescents, fitting in is one of the most important things to do even if you don’t agree because if not, then you will face continuous teasing and criticism. For example, in the book when Frankie Sinatra chose to be different and wanted to sing on stage instead of focusing on being in the war like all the other men, he had tomatoes thrown at him because he didn’t fit the norm. Seventeen magazine and the media strives from this conformity because they know if one teen buys something hot, everyone else will buy it too.
We all know what it’s like to do something just because your friends are doing it and not because you want to but simply because they want to. Teens are strongly influenced by who they are around all the time which is their peers they see in school on a daily basis and even see outside of school whether it’s because they live in the same neighborhood, ride the same bus, hang out, etc. They pick up everything from each other, this is why conformity happens and they start blending in with each other. It’s almost an instinct as an adolescent that when one sees the crowd doing something, they must follow them and do it too because that’s what’s normal. Seventeen helps to establish the norm of what beauty looks like and what you must have to fit these identities even offering sections that provides hope to those that were considered ‘ugly,’ which creates self-esteem and self-awareness.
Being a teenager in the 1940s was different than it is today, but in chapter 29 of “Teenage” Savage discussed how conformity was back then which sounds similar to how it is today where teens still follow the crowd and although the youth culture was in a different time period it still reflected the irresponsible, rebellious, and unique teenagers today before they even had a name for themselves. Young adolescents today, however, have an increase in social media and technology availability so they now have even more access to the trends and what’s posted on the Internet that’s popular, shaping their identities and causing them to blend in with each other more and more. They now have their phones in their hands 24/7 and can access the Internet almost anywhere. Today’s culture tries to emphasize being unique and your own self, but conformity has gotten worse and teens are losing their individuality and identity by fitting in the crowd.
It’s hard to find a sense of who you are when you have so much pressure influencing you, but when you’re a teenager it’s okay to follow your peers because this period of adolescence is when your identity is still emerging and you have the freedom to be who you want. You have the option as a teen to explore different identities and it’s not really until adulthood when we branch off and become more independent that we accept which identity is most suitable for us. In adulthood we truly discover and have a better understanding of our self due to our experimentation and experiences as teenagers. Peer conformity will continuously happen among young adolescents, but we must teach our younger generation that it’s important to express and form our own individual identity. We must also teach them that they don’t always have to follow the crowd because if they do, they will usually go no further than the crowd.