OPINION NATION: Sad Girl Army
When I first heard of ‘sad girl theory’ I thought it was the name of an album. Now, the album could have been made by two possible band types. The first being a frank ocean sort who credited jazz musicians as their inspirations and view their carefully thought-out Instagram layouts to be a work of art. The second, an indie girl group who were all related in some way and had hair down to their belly buttons. Creative subconscious aside, I soon came across the real meaning.
‘Sad girl theory’ is in fact a theory (duh), penned by LA based Instagram queen and general sass-master Audrey Wollen. The raven haired beauty explains the term as women expressing their sadness across social media as a form of unity. Fascinating to say the least, the concept is based on the recent wave of modern feminism that typically paints feminists as women who are constantly happy about being female. Now, I, a female, will be the first to stand up with both hands raised and admit to you that being a girl is tough. It is not all rainbows and smiles, it is not all female privilege and embracing sexuality. Being a woman in modern society, let alone a feminist, can be one of the saddest things in the world. But you can sit down and be quiet if you think our tears are a sign of defeat.
In a 2015 article for Dazed Magazine, Wollen summed up her theory:
“Sad Girl Theory is a permission slip: feminism doesn’t need to advocate for how awesome and fun being a girl is. Feminism needs to acknowledge that being a girl in the world right now is one of the hardest things there is – it is unimaginably painful – and that our pain doesn’t need to be discarded in the name of empowerment”.
Sharing sadness provides a relatable image to other women that may need a hand to hold in times of need. This realistic picture that Wollen has created is not only powerful, but it is inspiring. On a personal note, I love to cry. I confidently will admit I cry almost every day. Sometimes I’m sad, sometimes I’m not. But the most confident thing about it is that I am not ashamed nor am I embarrassed. ‘Sad girl theory’ is about realising that feminism and being proud to be a woman doesn’t mean we always have to be happy. You can complain, you can show your tears, you can freely and openly admit to the world the lows of being a girl, but you’re damn right that it does not make you any less of a brave or strong individual.
Already I feel like saying, man I feel empowered writing this. On a serious note, sadness amongst women isn’t just Instagram photos of teenagers crying in public bathrooms. The 2014 world health organisation report stated that suicide is now the biggest global killer amongst teenage girls aged between 15 and 19. Rating higher than road accidents, diseases or complications of pregnancy, self-harm is the biggest cause of death. By using her social media fame (an impressive 25,000 Instagram followers with a large percentage signed up to her weekly mailing list), Audrey has created a safe space for women. A space that not only encourages all sides of feminism, but celebrates it.
Her theory has sparked an almost cult-like following of sad girls around the world. Her outspoken and fiercely intelligent nature allows for women’s emotions to be considered as empowering, strong and above all, anything but weak. By interpreting modern feminism in her own unique way, woollen has re-defined what it means to be a sad girl. No longer can we be seen as quivering messes; we are sad girls, and bloody powerful ones at that.