How Young Adult Romance Novels Are Giving Young Girls a Misguided View of Romance: My Perspective as an 18-Year-Old High School Graduate

Aside from my cynicism, it's very apparent to me that society's propagation of true, unconditional love is affecting the way young girls are approaching romantic relationships.
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My decision to earn my school's required physical education credit during my senior year of high school has been primarily characterized by half assing the warm-ups as I abruptly slow my sprint around the court to a steady walk as my teacher turns his back on the rest of the class to reprimand a sophomore girl for concealing a piece of chewing gum in the corner of her cheek. I'm stuck with overly competitive pubescent boys and newly self-conscious freshmen girls; I am the lone senior in a class filled with students born in the year 2001.

While the age gap creates an indisputable rift and lack of relativity between myself and the freshmen girls in the class, every so often, I attempt to fraternize with them. I exchange pleasantries with them, half-heartedly laugh along at their not-funny jokes, and sometimes I even persist to engage in conversation. However, the conversations, while pregnant with the potential to become interesting, always seem to fall flat--I find that they feel intimidated by my age; perhaps they feel that my questions stem from a desire to mock, rather than from genuine interest. As a result, I resort to observing them from a distance with minimal conversation.

At the tender age of 13 and 14, they're becoming increasingly aware of their physical appearances and societally acceptable ways of presenting themselves. The waistbands of their hideous gym shorts are hitched well above their flat tummies to reveal freshly-shaved legs; rubber bands are secured to the excess fabric of their gym shirts to emphasize the outlines of small, undeveloped breasts. From time to time, I catch wind of their various conversations--I hear them chattering about flunking another geometry test, or plans for a birthday party that they all seem to be going to. And every so often, I hear them talking about boys.

As an 18-year-old teenage girl, I have fallen in love with ideologies, biology, and feminism--but I have yet to fall in love with a boy. Several of my friends have claimed to have truly fallen in love before; while this admittedly intrigues me, I'm exceptionally skeptical towards the entire concept of true romantic love. The archipallium is a primitive part of the human brain that is associated with self-preservation--meaning, we enter this world equipped with the intuition that we must protect ourselves and survive. It's my opinion that selfishness is an inborn trait characteristic of the entire human race; as a result, I believe that true romantic love goes against evolution.

Quite frankly, I don't think it's possible to truly love and care for somebody else the way one love and cares for himself. [Love that parents feel toward their children is the sole exception to my theory. I rationalize this by saying that children are a part of their parents.] Anyways, I digress. I think that romantic love is based off of our own emotional needs and sexual desires, and from an evolutionary standpoint, we love to reproduce and pass on our genes to future generations. Essentially, we love to satisfy selfish evolutionary motives.

Aside from my cynicism, it's very apparent to me that society's propagation of true, unconditional love is affecting the way young girls are approaching romantic relationships. Society wires these ideas into their brains at a very young, impressionable age. Little girls around the globe are fixated with princesses that fall in love with their prince charmings: handsome, chivalrous, virtually flawless men that love unconditionally. The propagation of this incredibly unrealistic ideology persists as these girls reach a very sensitive, tender age in their lives during which they crave male attention and validation.

Fictional characters like Edward Cullen, Peeta Mellark, Damon Salvatore, and Four are all specifically crafted to make the young female readers swoon. This would be completely fine if girls were reading these books solely for entertainment, but in reality, the concepts derived from these novels become teaching tools. Girls are molded to believe that this is realistically what love is supposed to be like and feel like--they strive to attain this false epitome of romance and intimacy. Because of the way they're mislead, they inadvertently impose these unrealistic, and quite frankly, unfair standards upon guys. And when young girls eventually find out that some guys can be total assholes [the furthest thing from the masculine, romantic, fictional characters that they've been conditioned to believe are a realistic representation of the male population] they blame themselves--they believe that because they aren't receiving the true, unconditional love that has been portrayed in these storybooks, something must be internally wrong with them.

It's imperative that we as a society understand the impressionability of young, developing minds. While sensationalizing and romanticizing may initially seem innocuous enough, we're failing to comprehend that young teenagers don't have the wisdom and experience to reject these ideas as being unrealistic; instead, they impose blame on themselves when they recognize the incongruency between this fantasy and their own lives. We as a society must start to convey accurate portrayals of romance in an attempt to prevent the infiltration of this unrealistic bullshit in the minds of young girls.

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