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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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This article has 192 comments. Post your own!

Still A Kid At Heart said...
Apr. 17 at 10:58 pm:
I really wouldn't want to grow up. I hate when I see little kids in bikinis and acting all 'fab'. They're spoiled brats.
 
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FilmLoverandWriter14This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Apr. 6 at 10:40 am:
I like your point! Great article! I also liked the point of parents sheltering their kids too much. It proves a point.
 
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AliMotamedi said...
Jun. 8, 2013 at 5:38 am:
thank you for raising the point, it is awful what the media is doing to kids. specially with all them high school shows. someone should tell these kids that not a single day of high school is niether like an episode of Glee nor is like a High School Musical movie!
 
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Niti-M said...
Jul. 28, 2012 at 9:16 am:
I agree. Something you could have included, was inner beauty. Nevertheless, beautifully written. Check out my work, too? Comments much appreciated :)
 
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BrightBurningCampeadorThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jun. 15, 2012 at 4:18 pm:
What really worries me is what these little girls will be like when they're teenagers and young adults. If they're trying to lose weight now, could it only get worse? Quite possibly.
 
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KatsK This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
May 2, 2012 at 7:55 pm:
I totally agree with this article. I also like how you embedded the statistics into it. I thought that it was very well done. It's really too bad, though, how many iconic TV stars are choosing bad lifestyles, and therefore, hurting young girls and how they think of themselves.
 
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pandagirl312 said...
Apr. 9, 2012 at 7:37 pm:
I really liked this piece. It shows the truth in how our society is changing and makes a point that it's not just affecting teens...but much younger audiences too. Well done.
 
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AEAluvsanimals said...
Jan. 12, 2012 at 9:17 pm:
I completely disagree with this and the voice is just obnoxious 1 Sharpay who sang that song is supposed to be flawed, not a prime example of perfectness (cough gabriella's character cough)I don't know how you missed that. She's a disney villian, not a complex character 2 you're implying this girl went dressing as this disney star by going around in her underwear , when she probably bought some plastic costume from a store or dressed as the character in the show dresses. 3 what's wrong the shor... (more »)
 
OutscreamtheLies replied...
Jan. 12, 2012 at 9:58 pm :
I feel that you're comment shows that this article has struck a nerve with you. You may disagree but a lot of your negative comments seemed..to put it lightly, downright rude. Ask yourself, where do you find yourself in this spectrum? Would you be the belly-showing nine year old in the article? Is your response based on facts, (i.e statistics in Media interference) or simply a matter of opinion?
 
ThisGirl replied...
Feb. 3, 2012 at 2:12 pm :
Yeah, I agree with you that little kids shouldn't wear eyeshadow and belly shirts, but everything else is kind of over the top.
 
ThisGirl replied...
Feb. 3, 2012 at 2:16 pm :
Oh, gosh, and the thing about little girls worried about their weight is awful. The kids do need to realize that they are fine the way they are.
 
Winters_WillowThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
Mar. 6, 2012 at 3:25 am :

1. I think that 9-year-olds with shorty-shorts and eye shadow is too much.

2. Listening to High School Musical instead of Elton John is fine.

3. Peter Pan's not perfect, but he's not a Jerk, he's like 10 or something! He's a KID, besides after Tinkerbell drank the poison he was really upset.

4. 10 year-olds shouldn't be worried about their weight. They'll be worried enough when they're 15, so let them have a few more years of uncaring-ness!

 
AelissNovakThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
Mar. 8, 2012 at 5:46 pm :

Peter Pan is about 6 or younger. In the book it says he has all his baby teeth still in.

My mom made me read a book called secret keeper that was about modesty and it explained what goes on in a guy's head when he sees girls showing a lot of skin. It's not a good thing for 10 year olds.

 
maizyiscrazy replied...
May 1, 2012 at 5:49 pm :
Uh, okay, AEAluvsanimals, the voice in this article is obnoxious? Why don't you reread your comment, and maybe that will tell you exactly what obnoxious sounds like.
 
BrightBurningCampeadorThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Jun. 15, 2012 at 4:13 pm :
Some of the points you make may indeed be valid, but I would suggest next time you phrase it a bit more politely. You may get your point across more clearly.
 
friendly replied...
Jun. 19, 2012 at 11:19 pm :
AEluvsanimals, like some others have said, I really think it would be beneficial for you to try to choose better diction when arguing about things you feel passionate about. Ranting makes you sound more radical, and downright ad hominem attacks are pretty low. Just so you know, btw, when a familiy member asked a 4th grader who her idol from HSM was, she responded "Sharpay" because the 'prettiness' of their clothes and hair is not lost on younger kids, but their attitude sometimes is. I'm really ... (more »)
 
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hobo12321 said...
Jan. 12, 2012 at 9:16 am:
Amazingly well written, and interesting topic. I didn't know a lot of that stuff (maybe because i don't babysit, or live in america?) but i can really see how it's such a strong opinion. Great job!
 
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Good_life13 said...
Dec. 27, 2011 at 3:52 pm:
This honestly made me want my childhood back! Very well written!
 
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EclipsesMidnight said...
Oct. 16, 2011 at 8:42 pm:
to already be worried about fitting in by being skinny? itz alarming to me and it scares me. Little girls, and even the little boys, should be themselves
 
Pumpkinscout replied...
Nov. 7, 2011 at 4:19 pm :
Aww this is sad...all too true, too... Little kids like that should be outside playing with their buddies or house with stuffed animals, not worrying about losing weight or "fitting in" or any of that kind of stuff. Your article is very well written, by the way. Nice job!
 
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