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

February 25, 2009
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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 194 comments. Post your own now!

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!
yuka11 said...
Sept. 24, 2011 at 1:44 pm
I really agree with this. I think that t.v. is "babysitting" a majority of kids and they are picking role models that shouldn't even be roles to follow. T.V., especially the Disney channel, is portraying extreme personalities that kids think are "normal". Anyway, this is really well written. Great job!
CaliArtist said...
Sept. 2, 2011 at 8:19 pm

I so agree. Its so terrible how little girls think that the only thing they're good for is getting a guy and looking "hot" I was babysitting a little girl, and her friends. They played a lot of games. Then, we missed Emma. When I found her, she was lying on the floor with her hands clasped on her chest. So, I asked her what she was doing, she sighed exsasperatedly and explained "Duh! I'm waiting for my prince" 

Um, okay...

Lola_Black said...
Sept. 2, 2011 at 7:55 pm
I totally agree with you, and this is very well writen, too! It's ridiculous what kind of messeges young girls are recieving today. Oh! And did you here about this tee-shirt JC Penny came out with, before a barage of complaints sent it reeling? "I'm too pretty to do my homework, so my brother has to do it for me" I can feel the feminist movement diving into decay at this very moment.
Laura_Oliver said...
Sept. 2, 2011 at 6:33 pm
This is really shocking for me, to know that girls only a few years younger than me (I'm on the lowest end of the age group on this site) are so ridiculously obsessed in Disney stars and wearing revealing attire. Next they'll move onto Nicki Minaj and 50 Cent and realize, "Hey, the only way for me to be recognized and appreciated is for me to be skinny and wear inappropriate clothing!" I was never like that as a child even if the option was available, although my reason is a bit shallower, as I ... (more »)
Laura_Oliver replied...
Sept. 2, 2011 at 6:35 pm
Oh, and you know what's funny? I saw a 'Zwinky' fashion-girl thingy advertisement on this article, showing an extremely skinny and busty girl in her underwear, ready to be all 'dressed up'. I think the advertisers do that on purpose.
-deedeshay said...
Aug. 11, 2011 at 12:36 pm
This is very thoughtful , your a great writter. Keep doing what you love it will follow you up well in the future.
lightningscar- said...
Jul. 20, 2011 at 10:44 pm
very thoughtful and clever, great job! 
. said...
Jul. 20, 2011 at 8:24 pm
You just explained everything that I couldn't put into words!!  And you made it funny and intersting! Love it!!!
Flashlevitation This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jul. 20, 2011 at 7:03 pm
very clever when you said " i think Walt just flipped over in his grave". you have style, you are concise, and i was interested in what you had to say the whole way through. Keep up the good work!
WeeSunshine said...
Jul. 20, 2011 at 4:36 pm
Brilliant! I really commend you for writing the last bit of your article. So many say (even me) about how media is imprinting a bad influence on adolescents...but, often, we don't solve the problem by pointing it out. We solve it by taking the initiative :) thanks! 
Leisie said...
Jul. 2, 2011 at 2:45 pm
This a great article that reveals the truth about the media's (namely Disney) affect on young girls. I hope to see more articles like this.
lfill said...
Jun. 30, 2011 at 7:55 am


   You are a very good writer and this piece is very well done.  Too many students these days forget that opinion pieces must still have evidence supporting their views to back up their essay.  This is very well done.  It is refreshing to see a young person's essay without wildly inappropriate "LOLs" or "OMGs" peppering the page.  Believe me, I have seen it.  Thank you for remaining true to language and literacy while still remaining cur... (more »)

tsinger07 said...
Jun. 28, 2011 at 5:33 pm
Thank you for coming out about this! I think this is a very important topic and I don't disagree with anything you said! I just want to make one comment.(and I'm talking about the others who commented) You guys are right. Disney is commercializing a lot of things that make a bad influence on our kids but I want to get it strait that it is the DISNEY CHANNEL side of the business who are messing up, not the true Disney that Walt had invented. If you look at disney through the eyes of the imag... (more »)
TheEternalDBSK said...
Jun. 28, 2011 at 5:11 pm
YES YES YES YES YES! FINALLY! SOMEONE WHO SAYS IT LIKE I SEE IT! Oh, God! Disney's is trying to commercialize and take over the world, and it's so sad to see!
JoPepper said...
Jun. 6, 2011 at 2:42 pm
This is really good.... Though I never seen those type of underwear..... Yeah Walt flipped thrice in his grave.  Very well written!!!! I favorited it!!
Natasha101 said...
Apr. 25, 2011 at 7:36 pm
I love the funny parts you put after every paragraph!  Great essay :))
MrsLadySlimShady said...
Apr. 23, 2011 at 4:23 pm
This is absolutely fabulous and completely true. I'm only 13, but through the years, I've seen such change it kind of scares me. There are 6th grade girls in my school who prance to the bathroom to re-apply make-up. I don't even wear make up! The new generation of youth are so concerned with their appearances, it disintegrated the whole meaning of being a kid.
Laura_Oliver replied...
Sept. 2, 2011 at 6:37 pm
I totally agree with you. That's why it's always a good thing to require uniforms and to have no-makeup rules in a school, to decrease the influence those materialistic items have on the girls.
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