The Internet's "awkward older sisters" are creating safe spaces for teen girls

Grace Helbig, Hannah Hart, and Mamrie Hart

Our culture is quick to mock and exploit teenage girls (or pit them against one another), but new forces on the Internet are pushing back

and creating safe, empowering spaces for young women. My friend and colleague Caroline Framke explores the rise of the "awkward older sister" on YouTube and elsewhere in this fantastic piece for The Atlantic:

On the Internet, however, the awkward older sister has quickly emerged as a powerful persona. These figures thrive on YouTube, where twentysomething women post freewheeling vlogs with advice, music videos, and anecdotes that reassure teen girls it's okay to screw up or be a little messy. Along with Helbig, comedians like Hannah Hart and Anna Akana rack up millions of views for their approachable videos. BuzzFeed's Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin first solidified their dynamic with their advice show "Just Between Us," which answers questions on subjects like their love lives, sexuality, and anxiety; they recently hit 100,000 subscribers, most of them young women. Even Amy Poehler vlogs at the Smart Girls channel (127,500 subscribers), talking directly to her young fans about everything from confidence and crushes to makeup and body image in clips that have no higher production value than an iPhone video.

Narrative webseries aside, what these videos have in common is that their stars directly address the camera, which keeps things both casual and intimate. It's a conversation among equals rather than a lecture. With these women, though, "awkward older sister" becomes something of a misnomer. As surrogate older sisters, they aren't awkward so much as approachable. They talk about their flaws rather than try to cover them up, and embrace their quirks rather than feel ashamed of them. They speak to their younger counterparts from a genuine place of understanding, aiming to inspire rather than intimidate.

Read the full article on The Atlantic.