Petrifying young women still in the earliest stages of working out who they might become stymies their potential for growth

According to the commentators, Emma Raducanu’s triumph at the US Open is just the start. She has been hailed as a sporting saviour, a model of resilience, an antidote to xenophobia and a potential money-making powerhouse. Her historic victory has unwittingly entered her into a game that she can never win: the cultural obsession with exceptional teenage girls and young women.

Taking teenage girls seriously – beyond their commercial potential – is a shockingly recent phenomenon, a decade old if that. Earlier teen-girl prodigies, from Emily Dickinson to Beyoncé, were accused of being the puppets of powerful men and subject to exploitation. That was until social media gave a generation an unmediated voice to define their own culture, to fight against injustices they cared about and to speak out about the pressures and mistreatment they experienced.

Laura Snapes is the Guardian’s deputy music editor

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