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So Long, Wonder Years This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


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“I want fabulous, that is my simple request. All things fabulous, bigger and better and best. Fetch me my Jimmy Choo flip-flops. Where is my pink Prada tote? I need my Tiffany hair band. And then I can go for a float.”

I can’t tell you how many times I have witnessed a live karaoke version of this “High School Musical 2” song performed by the three little girls I babysit. It took only one of their shows for me to realize what the media is doing to the youth of our nation. The first few lyrics are already teaching young girls to ­demand a perfect life and boss whoever is nearest to “fetch” their materialistic fashion products.

And it’s not just these girls who have been sucked into the brainwashing wave – it’s our little sisters, cousins, nieces, and neighbors too. Everywhere I go I see little girls dressed in super low-riding shorts, perfectly matching sparkly Hannah Montana belly shirts that bring out their glittery blue eye ­shadow. And with this I shed a tear and bid adieu to what we used to know as childhood, for it seems to me that the media in America today is causing adolescents, specifically females, to grow up much too fast and in the wrong way.

There are many “role models” for girls today who perhaps aren’t doing such a great job. One of the little girls I babysit is a big fan of a Disney star. She even dressed up as her for Halloween. I can imagine this 10-year-old, and many others, wanting to decorate her school binder with pictures and searching for her in Google Images. Terrifying but true: the very first picture that comes up is of this star in her underwear. This isn’t just one bad egg in the carton; in the next one she’s actually nude though thankfully blacked out in the appropriate (or should I say ­inappropriate) areas, and multiple pictures follow of the same variety. I’m really glad that young people are dressing like that for Halloween. Trick-or-treat, Grandma, the times are a-changing!

This is truly saddening because these celebrity role models actually do make an impression on our youth. A study by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute found that 40 percent of 9- and 10-year-old girls were trying to lose weight. Research into Saturday morning toy commercials noted that 50 percent of those aimed at girls spoke about physical attractiveness. But it’s not just these stars and commercials that are setting bad examples. Disney released “High School Musical” underwear for little girls with the words “Dive In” printed on the front. There is no way Disney could manufacture those without someone saying, “Hey, maybe people won’t think we mean dive into the swimming pool …” I think Walt just flipped over in his grave.

I’m not saying that we should lock up the children and throw away all ­televisions and computers. It’s healthy to see what the real world is like through the media to a certain extent. Some parents who shelter their children go too far at times, in my opinion. An online article ­reported that in one scene of Hannah Montana’s 3-D concert movie, she wasn’t wearing a seat belt. The article goes on to say that 65 percent of 13- to 15-year-olds killed in auto accidents in 2006 weren’t wearing seat belts. The blame for that cannot be placed on Hannah Montana; that’s going overboard, even if she did slip up.

Our world is quickly changing, and it may seem impossible to make an impact if you aren’t involved in the media, but that isn’t necessarily the case. Parents and other positive adult influences can really make a difference by talking to young people and ­letting them know that they are beautiful just the way they are. Show them a couple of Dove commercials to boost morale and pop in an episode of “Ed, Edd n Eddy” or “Recess” to show them that they can still be a kid and be themselves.

Sometimes we need to take a step back and think about what helped shape us. That’s why next time I babysit those singing and dancing girls, I’m going to bring along an Elton John CD to show them what music really is, and a copy of “Peter Pan,” who taught us to never grow up. If you know a young lady who is influenced by this type of media, step up and show her what manners, humility, and a little bit of fashion decency really look like. I can only hope that someday if I have a daughter, she’ll think Jimmy Choo is a type of bubble gum.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.





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rubiesrrare said...
May 29, 2009 at 9:15 pm:
my cousins are 10 and 7 and every time that they turn on their hsm, i almost have to cry. the 10 yr old is going to my old middle school and my aunt said that a few days ago, she came in and asked what a "BJ" (*cough, cought*) was! i think that now, if 10 yr olds are learning to dress like street walkers and gyrate like pole dancers (sadly, i have seen a 6 yr old do this...and a 5 yr old at the day care that i work at get into trouble because she was "doing what mommy and daddy do" and showing a... (more »)
 
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BookWorm579 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Apr. 21, 2009 at 9:47 pm:
While I do agree that young girls may have some less-than-savory role models out there, I think that children (despite growing up too quickly) would be a little too young to understand all the possible meanings of the wording on their underwear beyond the obvious one. As for these bad role models, though they are out there, Sharpay is a bad example of one. Girls watching will be old enough to understand that she is at least "not very nice" and probably won't be inclined to mimic the "bad guy".
 
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FRANKIEyo said...
Mar. 19, 2009 at 2:53 am:
So true....I hope more people realize what the media really can do
 
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Brooke V. said...
Mar. 18, 2009 at 8:27 pm:
I definately think that the media is encouraging young girls to behave like this. I agree with you almost 100%. I just a few decades ago this stuff would have been considered appalling, and if it has already gotten this bad, what is it going to be like in another thirty years. Look at our grandparents and see how much differen we are from them. When we are grandparents, what will the world be like? We need to stop letting the young kids (the next generations) act like this. Or at least to that e... (more »)
 
dragonbiscuits This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Jan. 16, 2010 at 10:11 pm :
Okay, I agree with this article. But, Brooke V., there is a difference between a pole dancer and a hippie. I think it is pretty obvious what a pole dancer stands for, and that is not what hippies were all about. Sure, they were/are for free sex and tend to use drugs, but they are also for peace and happiness, and were not ones to dress a certain way to be sexy . So get your facts straight.
 
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PlumbThePuma said...
Mar. 18, 2009 at 3:17 am:
I agree with this statment to a certain extent. yes our generation and more specifically the younger population is influenced by dramas like Hannah Montana shows and the underwear is a little over the top, but it is the parents who guide the child. But also some parents could care less what their ten year old daughter wears. so i agree more or less.
 
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Jessattk said...
Mar. 16, 2009 at 9:39 pm:
Very good article, i can totally see where your coming from. Some girls are wayyy to influenced by this kind of thing. Sometimes little girls just need to be little girls.
 
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Xx_kishka_xX said...
Mar. 15, 2009 at 10:44 pm:
So true.. I'm so glad that my sister isn't into that kind of stuff. ^.^
 
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Sana W. said...
Feb. 27, 2009 at 9:51 pm:
"The first few lyrics are already teaching young girls to ­demand a perfect life and boss whoever is nearest to “fetch” their materialistic fashion products." I disagree, at least with this case. Although our youth is fairly impressionable, I suppose it's up to us to judge how well we know them. I think it's common sense to distinguish between a fictional TV drama/movie and real life. Of course, this common sense differs from person to person, and while everyone is open ... (more »)
 
fube replied...
Sept. 2, 2011 at 10:23 pm :
Great writing. i agree with you, kids need to be kids. i see girl six years old wearing belly shirts in public! It's digusting, something for teenagers. Instead of babydolls they have peircings and sparkling headbands. What happened to ingeunity and intelligience, why is beauty and materials prized over them? i must sound old but, what happened to cartoons. I think you could show them some: Phineas and Ferb , Fairly Oddparents ,shows that show the joy of being a kid. I think with cartoon Dsiney ... (more »)
 
fube replied...
Sept. 2, 2011 at 10:47 pm :
Sorry, this is my other opinion. No, Disney isn't after world domination nor is Nick. The shows are different, times have changed and honestly some of those sitcoms, while not as friendly as they could be, have good lessons. As a kid i did stupid things i saw on TV. whether it was Ed,Ed and Eddy or Hannah Montana. If you have a kid who is obsessed with whatever and you don't to them about about reality and TV it's your fault. Also i grew up on Hannah Montana, Suite life, Ned declasssified and id... (more »)
 
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