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

February 25, 2009
More by this author
“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.

Join the Discussion

This article has 194 comments. Post your own now!

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 »)

Fire_Ice replied...
Jan. 9, 2011 at 9:45 pm

I totally agree! When I was 10 I was wearing jeans and Harry Potter T-shirts, waving a brach in the air and waiting for my acceptance letter to Hogwarts. Now there are 10 year olds who wear tube tops and short shorts and are more worried about getting a boyfriend.

I miss the days when the clumsy Lizzie McGuire was the queen of Disney channel...

Brook_little_obbsessive said...
Oct. 29, 2010 at 4:56 pm
the high school underwear saying is repulsive.
LostInTime This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Oct. 7, 2010 at 6:34 pm

Wow, I love this article. 

If you go into a walmart or target looking for not-so-appropriate clothes, you will find the bulk of them in the Little girls section.


Its sad really.

brkarcher said...
Sept. 24, 2010 at 8:59 am
Haha, that is hilarious, and very true!
broken_red_wagon said...
Sept. 15, 2010 at 7:56 pm
Wow, it's about time someone wrote about this. I admire your writing. I hope this makes into a big newspaper one day, because everyone needs to be reading this. Fabulous work, though!
BeatleMania16 said...
Sept. 15, 2010 at 6:00 pm
THIS IS CRAZY AMAZING. i think about this stuff soo much, how society changes us all the time. like, for instance, the color pink. if for 100 years society said pink was a boy color, so it would be. its the opinion of the greater public that changes us. and u write REALLYY well. I LOVE THIS!! PS-the part about teh underwear MORTIFIED me!!
lyssa28 said...
Aug. 24, 2010 at 2:42 pm
your writing is amazing!  I have a  sister who is always worried what people will think about her because she cant fit into abercrombie clothes and she  has only 1 aeropostale shirt. She shouldnt be worrying about that! she's only 10! when Miley cyrus' "cant be tamed" came out my sis was mortified because she wanted miley's outfit but couldnt get anything near it because it was too revealing.
thebushhippie said...
Aug. 24, 2010 at 10:49 am
Wow, so true! Great job writing this...I know WAY too many young girls who fit this description to the T. Awesome job!
itscomplicated said...
Aug. 24, 2010 at 9:47 am
wow rlly great article and i totally agree with everything you mom always tells me this story of when i was little: it was the middle of winter and freezing out and i wanted to b beautiful so i went outside in my snowsuit and my little cinderella "glass slippers". my mom couldnt believe it! i agree that just one celeb isnt to blame but ur totally right that so many kids r affected by what they see on tv. great job!
. said...
Aug. 2, 2010 at 10:07 pm
Too right. Why can't kids look up to people like writers or doctors, instead of Britney Spears? BTW, I love the article, but I do like Jimmy Choo shoes
TuffGurl replied...
Oct. 29, 2010 at 2:21 pm
I agree with you. I agree with the article 100% (but think parents have some fault -- they're the ones letting their little girls wear padded bras with see-through shirts at eight), but I do like designer clothes. There is a difference, because the designer ones are just made of nicer fabric, you know? That's why I DO NOT shop for clothes at Target or shop for ANYTHING at Wal-Mart.
Macx14 said...
Aug. 2, 2010 at 4:05 pm
I couldn't agree more. The media distorts our generation's idea of what a girl's body should look like and that's what causes things like anorexia and bulimia. They lead to permanent physical damage and sometimes death. Great job and valid points!!
kyeiskitkat said...
Aug. 2, 2010 at 2:30 pm

I agree with you. My sister is six-years-old, and so still a little young for the 'Hannah Montana' craze, I think, but I'm definitely trying to steer her in a different direction. Yesterday, I pulled out my old Nintendo 64, and she and I spent almost the entire day playing Pokemon Snap. That's what being a kid is about, not how you look!

But, then again, the TV show 'Hannah Montana' has plenty of great messages; being yourself, chasing your goals, staying close to your family, being a ... (more »)

Alexandrathepoet This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Nov. 19, 2010 at 9:01 pm
If she's "being herself" why does she have an alter ego?
DiamondsIntheGrass This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Aug. 2, 2010 at 11:52 am
i totally agree, you wrote this article really well. but what is jimmy choo choo anyway? yeah... i dont pay much attention to that stuff...
Wicked-princess replied...
Aug. 2, 2010 at 12:22 pm
article really is fabulous totaly agree i mean in society today we make it out where girls need to be perfect or else they are just trash. that an the fact that is it really necessary to have everything anyone could dream of to be perfect? I mean who cares if what your wearing was from dulce an gabanna or from target? An jimmy choo is a designer
whispersofthenight said...
Aug. 2, 2010 at 11:19 am
I completely agree. It's so true. Great article :)
blueberrybird2_8 said...
Aug. 2, 2010 at 8:05 am
So true! Kids are taught now to grow up faster. It's sad. :(
♥♫music4ever25♥♫ said...
Jul. 28, 2010 at 11:11 am
i agree with this article, i really do. but you have to step back and rember that its not just little kids who have role models that are no good. As teens we have quite a few people we seem so willing to worship when they're not anymore fit for the role as miley is.
laraelizabeth This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jul. 11, 2010 at 9:38 pm
I love this; I feel exactly the same way about our world. I grew up with listening to the Beatles and Elton John, not Hannah Montanna and the Jonas Brothers; watching the Disney classics not The Suite Life of Zac and Cody. When I was a kid, Cartoon Network had The Flintstones, the Jetsons, and Tom and Jerry- not the bizarre shows they have today. What happened to Tom and Jerry and the Beatles? Every kid I see doesn't even know what they are.
Site Feedback