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Too Old, Too Fast
Too Old, Too Fast
I was sitting in the food court at the mall and enjoying some Panda Express orange chicken when, all of a sudden, I heard a guttural noise nearby:
I jumped with surprise at the inhuman sound and quickly glanced around the massive room for the source of the disruption. My eyes immediately focused on two young girls who were shooting towards each other. When they met, they wrapped together in a massive hug, one lifting the other off of the ground.
“OH MY GAWD! I HAVEN’T SEEN YOU IN, LIKE, FOUR HOURS!” they shrieked and howled to each other. I turned to my friend and gave him a dark scowl. I wondered, “Why are they being so loud? This is a public place, isn’t it? It’s ten o’ clock at night, and they should be home by now. They can’t be driving age, can they?” I scrutinized the screaming girls. Their faces were coated in eye shadow, lip gloss, and foundation. The roots of their hairs were dyed pink and yellow. They had on low-cut tops and skirts that went up mid-thigh. The worst part was, they looked like they couldn’t have been older than 12 or 13, and yet they were already dressing like women who were out on the town.
“Gosh, they’re dressed like sluts,” I remarked to my friend.
“You’re such an old man. Everyone dresses like that these days” he quipped back.
As ‘old manish’ as it might seem, kids are growing up way too fast. It seemed that, starting in middle school, a lot of girls started dressing older than people their age should. They all seem to be growing up too fast. "The 12- to 14-year-olds of yesterday are the 10- to 12-’s of today," says Bruce Friend, a vice president of the kids' cable channel Nickelodeon. According to Friend, the Nickelodeon-Yankelovicht Youth Monitor found that today, 12-year-old kids often describe themselves using words like "flirtatious, sexy and trendy."(Hymowitz). When I was 12, I never described myself as ‘flirtatious’ or ‘sexy,’ and I was 12 only six years ago!
It isn’t just the clothes or words that give it away either. Pre-teens are showing more rebellious attitudes and exhibiting more risky and adult behaviors. Aside from wearing revealing clothing or screaming in public places, drug and alcohol use as well as sexual activity are now becoming issues with pre-teens. “We're beginning to see a few pregnant sixth-graders,” says Christy Hogan, a former middle-school counselor (Hymowitz). Sixth grade?! Those are 11- and 12-year-olds! Pregnant?! You have got to be kidding me!
It troubles me that so many children are becoming adults so much faster because of peer pressure and images that the media portrays to them about what is masculine or feminine, or what is sexy. Look at the star of the popular Disney Channel show Hannah Montana, Miley Cyrus. My 8-year-old sister watches Hannah Montana religiously, as do many of my cousins, ranging from ages 5 to 10. In 2008, Cyrus was the subject of a revealing Vanity Fair photo shoot in which she, 15 at the time, appeared bare-backed and with a sheet covering her front. In August of 2009, Cyrus performed at the Teen Choice Awards, an award show that, despite its name, is as much geared towards 10- to 12-year-olds as well as teens. During the performance, she jumped up onto a platform and swung around a pole as she sang (Serjeant). ‘Hannah’ is one of my sister’s biggest role models, but when she sees the things Cyrus does in her free-time, what is my sister supposed to think? I don’t want her thinking it’s cool to dance like a stripper or that wearing revealing clothing at her age is okay just because Hannah does it. Unfortunately, Cyrus, and other child-star turned bad-girl role-models have much more sway over how my sister acts and dresses than I do. I am thankful that my sister still watches a healthy dose of SpongeBob, and still has the silliness that all 8-year-olds should have, but if I hear her singing Katy Perry’s hit song “I Kissed a Girl” one more time, I’ll scream.
The worst part about childhood pressures to grow up faster is the paradox that they create, and that the kids won’t see their errors until it’s too late. The older that a person gets, the more they’ll miss their childhood years. They’ll realize that being an adult means a whole new set of responsibilities, like paying expensive bills, working long hours, and high expectations from bosses and co-workers. It also means many harsh realities, like “I can’t use this money to eat out at restaurants every night or to buy video games, I need it to pay the electricity bill,” or “I don’t have summer vacation anymore, I work year-round. The weekend is my vacation.”
When confronted with the issue of their fast-aging children, some parents take the “Well, they have to grow up some time” view, but I don’t believe that. Children should always be given the opportunity to just be kids until at least their teenage years. They shouldn’t have to worry about how they look, or cliques, or dating. Kids should just be kids, and they should be that way for as long as they can before moving on to the next stage in life. I think they’ll be much happier teenagers and adults that way.
1. Hymowitz, Kay S. “Kids Today Are Growing Up Way Too Fast”
The Wall Street Journal, 28 October 1998
1 November 2009. Web.
2. Serjeant, Jill “Miley Cyrus Voted Worst Celebrity Influence of 2009”
The New York Times, 28 October 2009
1 November 2009. Web.