Everybody can relate to the struggles of growing up, and girls face a particular set of challenges, but now there’s a website which seeks to support teenage girls as they transition from girls to women - and it’s gone viral.
The aptly named website, Girlhood, was started by two teenage girls who wanted “every girl to know that they belong”, and they’ve invited girls worldwide to get involved with their blog and join them in their mission. The website has a sister TikTok account ‘Gir1hood’, which has attracted over 76,000 followers.
All visitors to the website are encouraged to share their stories about simply being a girl, and if necessary they can ask for advice or just receive comments of recognition and support from other users. So, it seems the sisterhood is well and truly alive and it’s been led by Gen Z through a blog. In the words of Beyoncé: “Who run the world? Girls!”
But, what exactly is on the Girlhood website, why has it gone viral and what do experts think about it? Keep reading on to find out all you need to know.
What is Girlhood?
The Girlhood website is a blog-style pink and purple forum that offers young girls and teenagers the chance to get advice and help with their issues from their peers as they navigate through their formative years.
Girls around the world can communicate with each other, share advice and express their thoughts and feelings, either by contributing to the blog directly, commenting on someone else's post or commenting on a TikTok video.
It was created by two girls, Mia Sugimoto and Sophia Rundle, who said they want to “spread positivity and support to all girls” and “help girls learn, grow and navigate the various troubles of girlhood”.
The website hosts multiple stories submitted from girls across the globe, including ones about romantic love, friendship and self-love. There’s also a form where people can submit their own stories or questions, and these can be anonymous if preferred. Those over 15 can also apply to become a respondent and offer their advice to girls who are in similar situations as them. This is done via another form that seeks to “gauge your character” and assess the kind of advice you might give to others.
The ‘about’ section of the website states: “Stories can be funny, scary, relatable or entertaining! We want every girl to know that they belong, and there are girls all over the world willing to help.”
There is also a disclaimer on the website which states: “We do not claim to be authorised mental health professionals. All advice is a reflection of our experiences, lessons and things we’ve learned through our private lives.”
The TikTok page has numerous videos showing Sugimoto and Rundle reacting to the stories which have been shared on the website, and also the positive reaction that it has received from visitors.
Why has Girlhood gone viral?
Teens can’t get enough of Girlhood, and more and more people are accessing the website and following the TikTok account on a daily basis. But why? One expert thinks she has the answer.
Transformation coach Kirsty Carden told NationalWorld: “More and more people and particularly young people are looking for advice and reassurance from people like them which is something girlhood is providing in encouraging girls to openly express themselves and empower each other. In a digital world where social media can make more and more people feel alone and different, girlhood is actively encouraging girls to connect and contribute.”
What do experts think about Girlhood?
When it comes to the thoughts of experts on Girlhood, it’s fair to say that opinion is divided.
Virginia Mendez, a feminist author who wrote the book Childhood Unlimited: Parenting Beyond the Gender Bias, told NationalWorld that she believes Sugimoto and Rundle should be applauded for “seeing a gap and having the drive, energy, and resilience to offer a solution for it”. She added: “I love how it is rooted in the idea of sisterhood, supporting each other, and taking ownership of their own narrative. Having a space for teenage girls to be teenage girls and ask for help from each other.”
Mendez also noted that although the girls are not mental health professionals, as they have themselves made clear, she was “happily surprised” to see that the advice they had given was “appropriate and mature”, although it was verbalised in a completely different way than most experts would do so.
She did, however, say that she was concerned that the girls will ultimately be asked to deal with things that they are not equipped to deal with. She explained that some problems require legal knowledge, trauma-informed approaches, and vast social and psychological understanding.
“That would then be unfair for all parties involved,” she said. “It is not fair to ask those teenage girls to bear the weight of answering difficult questions, beyond the bread-and-butter of daily relationship dramas, and it is definitely not enough support for those who reach out expecting a solution to their problems.” But, the website does link to relevant organisations and helplines which provide advice for issues beyond their capabilities.
Angela Karanja, world renowned psychologist and founder of Raising Remarkable Teenagers and Well Woman Weekend workshops, told NationalWorld that the advice being given on the website is “so worrying [and] so troubling”. She added: “The advisers are teenagers meaning they haven’t got critically sound information and judgement in their advice. The problem is a lot of teenagers haven’t got a mature level of critical thinking because their frontal lobe, the home of executive function, is still underdeveloped. They shouldn’t call these girls advisers but chat mates.”
She also said that teenagers are “likely to believe their personal experience is the magic pill transferrable to every other person regardless of their background and context”, but this is not true. Her main piece of advice for teens reading the website, or receiving guidance from any of their friends, is that they should seek advice from credible professionals too.