Day 6

The Manchester bombing and the resilience of teenage girls

The Arianators, as Ariana Grande's legion of fans are known, are largely teenage girls and LGBT youth. The executive women's editor at Huffington Post says we can all learn from the resilience they have cultivated by facing down a world that often mocks them.
Thirteen-year-old Iqra Saied, who attended the Ariana Grande concert looks at floral tributes in Manchester. (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

On Monday night, a 22-year-old man waited outside an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England. When the show was over and thousands of fans clogged the exists, he blew himself up.

The blast killed 22 people, including an eight-year-old girl and a number of parents who were waiting to pick up their kids. More than 50 people were badly injured.

ISIS has claimed responsibility for the deadly suicide bombing.

Emma Gray is the executive women's editor at The Huffington Post. She followed the events in Manchester well into Tuesday morning and throughout the week.

As she tells Day 6, she couldn't shake the fact that it was predominantly young women who were targeted — specifically, young women who were supposed to be in a safe space.

Young women gather at a candlelit vigil to honour the victims of Monday evening’s terror attack outside an Ariana Grande concert. (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

In response, Gray wrote a column titled "The Manchester Attack and the Resilience of Teen Girls." She says it was her way of celebrating the strength of these fans and the community they forged.

She also told Day 6 about the largely unrecognized power that teenage girls possess, and how the world would do well to take a cue.  

Here's her take.

EG: I was up so late on Monday night just looking at Twitter and there was so much to process.

Any terror attack is going to destroy a sense of safety among the people who are being targeted. But I had a really visceral reaction... to the thought that a space where these young people, many of them children or parents that were trying to give their children a space to be themselves, would have that marred by violence — and that that would, for some of them, be their very last night.

I wanted to write something that stressed just how incredible and resilient teen girls can be, and celebrate them in a moment where many of them, I think, were feeling quite scared and shaken.

EG: Teen girls are so often maligned within our society. We like to mock them when they're enthusiastic. We like to censor what they're wearing. They are both used and objectified in order to sell us lots of things. And at the same time, we tend to reject their agency and devalue their thoughts.

Often concerts are a space where they can find community and a respite from those feelings.

A woman is consoled as she looks at the floral tributes following an evening vigil outside the Town Hall on May 23, 2017 in Manchester, England. (Leon Neal/Getty Images)

EG: You are forced to develop a resilience and an armour — and yet, because these girls are also socialized to be in touch with their emotions, you have this incredible merging of qualities. They are able to access a boundless love for one another. I think in times of tragedy that really comes in handy.

Ariana Grande's fan base sometimes affectionately refer to themselves as 'Arianators' online. They are predominantly young women, girls, LGBTQ kids and people who were looking for a community and seem to have found a lot of love among the community of other Ariana Grande fans.

Ariana Grande poses during a concert in Dublin. (Ariana Grande / Instagram)

EG: If you have had to find solace from the world around you through friendship, through online community and through music, you are much better-equipped to use those same tools to reach out to other people who are in pain and to find that resilience.

When I see a young girl who just lost her best friend post a photo of that girl in a tweet, and the responses are just young woman after young woman offering her love and support from around the world, that gives me hope.

If we can continue to find connection with each other in the face of tragedy, then that's how the world keeps going. And that's how we continue to find human connection, even when the message we see if we look at the news every day is that there's a lot of bad in this world.

EG: From the most hideous events, we also see the best of humanity, and we see such an outpouring of love whenever a tragedy like this occurs and that's the thing that gets us through.

Teen girls are one thing that gives me hope, and I try to take a cue from them, and I try to look at the world around me and not just see the worst, but try to see the best — and try to access that more innocent, unboundaried love that a lot of us had when we were younger. And I think that's something that's magical.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

To hear Emma Gray's take on the resilience of teenage girls, download our podcast or click the 'Listen' button at the top of this page.