what the tortured little girl means to an online generation
sky ferreira often feels like a person i imagined: a mythical creature with rock n roll boyfriends, rumored drug addictions, n a forever-forthcoming second album. she’s always on the mood board with her infamous platinum blonde hair n soft grunge attire. even her name conjures images of the infinite cosmos with a fiery twist.
in july1, i saw sky twice within 2 weeks, which is both a Blessing n a Curse. a blessing because it was her first nyc show in 8 years/first la headline in 7 years; a curse because her career relies solely on the debut album night time, my time (2013) n second2 ep ghost (2012), meaning the concert was the same set ive seen live 5-6 times before. i knew this beforehand, yet i still had the sad girl urge to fly across the country when minty boi announced she would play their anniversary show. it sold out n a second show was announced based on popular demand — obviously, i wasnt the only one sick in da head.
although sky only has one (1) decade-old album, two (2) new-ish singles, a couple of features — with miss xcx n ex-boyfriends diiv, iceage, but
unfortunately thankfully not with slow hollows — some acting cameos — twin peaks, baby driver, alone at night, etc — and an old modeling career that peaked in 2013/2014, she has etched herself in former alt n unwell teenage girls’ brains. our connection carriers her career despite bidding contacts, tyrannic managers, and perpetual postponements3. if there’s One thing i know, teenage girls love HARD.
proven by the fact that i stayed in my first relationship far too long n took too long to get over them. we went from Us Against The World to an abrupt breakup which led to off-again-on-again bullshit until i moved across the country bc there was no other escape. i now use that relationship as a cautionary tale to friends going thru similar breakups but ultimately fail because we all Love Too Much. im sure u have a similar story, we ALL been sammi sweetheart at some point, but hey were 16 what does it matter! as miss del rey says, “this is what makes us girls, we all look for heaven and we put love first, somethin' that we'd die for, it's our curse.
i was a part of an angsty generation that grew up reblogging terry richardson’s photographs of sky, stills of the “everything is embarrassing” music video, and the chorus, “only ever in dreams, i wrap my arms around u.” we were a group of girls n gays experiencing the pain and uncomfortableness of adolescence, which only becomes more complicated when given the internet. there’s heightened emotions n lack of control n undiagnosed mental illness n self-commodification. we were outcasted in high school, either from our own self-isolation or at the expense of others through bullying. we found solace online — a place where we can hide behind screens n create pages of pretty images we wished our lives resembled intertwined with our true feelings.
a majority of us – or those who live in nyc n never grew up — gathered at the knockdown center on august 2nd. it was dubbed tumblr festival n merch that read TUMBLR FAMOUS printed on american apparel t-shirts were sold. the lineup included uffie n nicole dollanganger, n snow strippers bc rip crystal castles. everyone was dressed in dark lolita fits – black bows n giant ruffles – or real ones repped classic aa prints n silhouettes (myself included). it was the internet when we were 15 irl, almost like a time machine but adapted to the current hf kate moss at glasto zeitgeist. it was a reminder of how big the community is, how real everything was.
it was in the crowd, screaming “NOBODY ASKED ME IF I WAS OKAY” n “ITS DA MIDDLE OF DA NIGHT N IM SOOOO GONE” along next to hundreds of girlies that the extent of sky’s impact on my life really resonated. her lyrics may be corny n cringe-inducing when read off the sheet, but she’s REAL! “i tried to ask u, but nobody asked me...”;“boys, i always see u smiling, boys u never take the blame, all the rotten things that u do, always getting in my way...”;“i’ve been hating everything, everything that could have been, could have been my anything, now everything's embarrassing...” she perfectly summarizes the universal troubles of growing up, especially when growing up as a sad girl because she herself is a sad girl who signed with a record label far too young, was repeatedly sexually abused as a child, dated a heroin addict who was 7 years older, and suffers from chronic illness. when thinking about all the trauma that arises from these circumstances — along with existing within a bad-faith contract — it’s astonishing how far she’s gotten, even if it is a single album.
yes, sky continuously pisses us off with broken promises and vague apologizes regarding new music, but she’s also fighting for her life through art. unlike other girly pops in her field at the time (ie born to die lana n electra heart marina), sky never wallows in her sadness nor falls to our patriarchal society — which isnt said to erase the merit of lana n marina nor call them bad feminists. but it is important to acknowledge that sky subverts the status quo by being confrontational, which is why her music continues to defy the test of time.
in “i blame myself,” a song one can assume is about her party girl image, drug arrest, n gossip of her being difficult to work with, she sings: “how could u kno what it feels like to fight the hounds of hell? / u think u kno me so well / how could u kno what it feels like to be outside yourself / u think u kno me so well.” instead of allowing these stereotypes n expectations to define her, sky reveals her truth of living with dissociative and depressive symptoms. she even goes further by recognizing how her actions have often fabricated this persona and takes responsibility for it. this second part isnt something she has to do — it isnt even something most people would do — but she does it to establish herself as a misunderstood artist.
later in the song, she sings: “im just a face without a choice / i trust you'd never like to guess what i think above these shoulders / 10 years old without a voice4 / i feel like nothing's really changed, now i'm just a little older.” this goes back to capitol records banking on sky becoming the electropop britney spears, although that was never her hopes n dreams. however, this is still especially relatable for teen girls who arent pop star prodigies. girls — shit even women n those w marginalized identities — r never listened to nor taken seriously although they r the ones creating subcultures, questioning authorities, refuting the status quo, etc etc. instead, white, cishet patriarchal society projects their own ideals and wishes onto us, turning us into pawns until we’re no longer needed to fulfill their capitalist desires in whatever, exploitive way.
this is just one example, but i can go on n on n on n on about how she manages to encapsulate the confusion, agony, misery, n heartbreak of being a girl online. plus, her image n sound actively goes against the stereotypes of pop princesses. she’s edgy n dark with synth-rock influences, a genre usually saved for boys or the girls who rock. therefore, we see ourselves in sky n by supporting her, we get a glimpse of catharsis — a feeling of hope in this sick, sad world. sky represents all of us when she goes on stage, even when she’s too shy to say anything besides muffled thank u’s in between cries.
thxxx 4 reading ☆ 𝓼𝓸 𝓬𝓾𝓽𝓮 𝓲𝓽 𝓱𝓾𝓻𝓽𝓼 ☆ subscribe 4 free to receive n support my shitposts! ♡
pls forgive me for posting this waayyyyy too late, i was off my meds for a minute n forgot how to write :p
the first was as if! (2011), a collection of electropop songs that have been wiped from streaming services as it was recorded during the era in which capital records was molding sky into their perfect little girl
masochism has been in the works for yearsssss, always coming out SOON! which has become a meme of itself, but night time, my time went through the same thing. it was pushed back n changed multiple times because sky’s creative vision went against her labels.
there was a period in her life where she actually did go mute which proves shes writing from personal experience n hasnt created this tortured little girl image for the sake of sales,,,, although i do love this tortured little girl persona… xD!