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!

xelawriter97 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Apr. 1, 2011 at 3:44 pm
So true. I liked how you added a bit of humor into this. It made it all the more interesting and entertaining. 
IcePrincess This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 10, 2011 at 11:47 am
This is so true, and it's really a sad thought.  Really good article thought!  It proves a point!
RedheadAtHeart This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 11, 2011 at 9:54 pm
This is so freaking true it isn't even funny. Bravo. I cannot agree more.
Vesperstar23 said...
Jan. 25, 2011 at 9:06 pm
Wow thank you so much! I am around all this little girls who are worried about make up and talking about there Bras!! there eight!? really??? I don't even wear make up. I believe that we learn so much from your childhood, and yes it's good to grow up, but always, always, hold on to those dear things from our childhood. (and lets hope that we give these little girls something dear to hold on to as well!) Keep up your writing :D
fire_ice4ever This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
May 25, 2011 at 11:59 pm
I know!! You see these little girls at the mall picking out bras!!! Of course the entire bra is the padding, but still. 6 or 7 is a little on the young side, I don't think i even knew what that was back then. In fact I was trying to jump off a swingset and fly on a magical broom. 
JoPepper replied...
Jun. 6, 2011 at 2:56 pm
Me too!!!  And the thing with kissing back then most people didn't have their first kiss until they were 16!! But now some people kiss at 12!! This one girl was asking me private questions and she asked "have you had your first kiss yet" I said  "no I'm only 13, I won't kiss until I'm 16"  She looked at me like I grew a third eye!  That is rediculous that 6 and 7 year olds are talking about and wearing bras when they don't need them!!!!!!! major yuck!! :)( 
BrightBurningCampeador This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Jun. 15, 2012 at 4:24 pm
Yeah, it makes me wonder if we're all returning to the middle ages when girls married at 12.
JoPepper replied...
Jun. 15, 2012 at 5:42 pm
Gosh I never thought about that...although I think back then it was because of lifespan now 12 year are having their first kiss among other things because of society and that stuff.
bannedfromtheuniverse said...
Jan. 25, 2011 at 3:15 pm
AMEN! But... on behalf of the music, I say show 'em some Adam Ant! THAT, my dear, is proper music.
Aelita said...
Dec. 12, 2010 at 10:53 pm
Agreed!   Seriously, when you see little seven year olds wearing shorts that are way too short, it's just too much!  But that's not the only way in which the media influences our society!  They also effect relationships.  When my mom grew up, it was unheardof for you to have your first kiss before you were at least sixteen!  Thanks to the media now the age can dip as young as twelve... and even younger if we're being truthful!  I think there ought to be laws li... (more »)
Aelita replied...
Dec. 12, 2010 at 10:56 pm
I made a typo.  I meant: "the disney chanel isn't all bad, not that it is.  Just wanted to make that clear!
laylasstory replied...
Jan. 3, 2011 at 10:16 pm
I absolutely agree with your entire article. You hit the point right in the middle. This is brilliant. Please keep writing.
TheEdgar said...
Dec. 12, 2010 at 6:21 pm
I've seen little girls who were worried about make up when i wasnt even allowed to wear make up.
schlage said...
Dec. 12, 2010 at 5:32 pm
It's really weird when you go out in sweats and a tshirt and you see little girls wearing lowcut shirts or short shorts.
MinnieMouse15 said...
Dec. 12, 2010 at 11:22 am
I love this article it has touch me to really think about today life...
VLythia said...
Dec. 1, 2010 at 4:32 pm

This is one of my favorite articles by far and it is indeed the first article on this website that has nothing about it that I feel the need to criticize.

You made all of your points very well without being overly judgmental. I'm especially impressed at how you refrained yourself from mentioning this inappropriate Disney channel role-model's name, unless that was moderating from Teen Ink. 

Something else I loved about this article was when you brought up Elton John and... (more »)

cat15 replied...
Jul. 6, 2012 at 11:31 pm
 Some things on this site aren't, well, great, but I thought this article was really well - written and that you made some valid points. It is sometimes really sad what TV's messages are doing to kids today.
Susie Dibs said...
Nov. 24, 2010 at 6:35 am
Right on!!!!!!! i'm glad i'm not th eonly one who feels like the childhood of our present children is being snatched away and replaced with fake and fabricated strip dancers.
DaydreamBeliever This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Nov. 20, 2010 at 11:08 pm
Over 50% of young girls are more afraid of becoming fat than losing their parents.
Phantom_Girl This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Nov. 8, 2010 at 1:37 pm

"Dive In"....? You're telling me not ONE Disney marketer saw that design and said, "Um...guys? Maybe we should try another slogan...Just sayin'." Wow. Just wow.

This is too freaking true. I remember being a little girl and wearing jeans and pink Tweetie Bird T-shirts. You are not supposed to care what you look like when you're 10! And oh my goodness the clothes! I've seen eight-year-olds in clothes so skimpy I wouldn't be let out of the house in them-and I'm twice their age! When did W... (more »)

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