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!

Jennie said...
Jul. 11, 2010 at 8:36 pm
okay... this is my favorite article on this website. its official. you don't know how many times i want to scream at parents and say "Why are you letting your daughters go out in public wearing cut off shorts (which look like underwear) and see through shirts????" thank you SOOOO much for this article.
BrielleM said...
Jul. 10, 2010 at 4:47 pm
I love this article! Really nice job! :)
princess6 said...
Jul. 8, 2010 at 2:12 pm
Luv dis article!!!!!!!!!!! Ok so i'm in 8th gr. and I do like name brand things but some girls in my class take it to far.. bragging about getttin a $250 Coach purse like who cares...definetly not's jus a waste of money. BTW luv da lst line bout Hoping ur daughter dinks Jimmy Choo is bubble gum!!
GABSALOTT96 said...
Jul. 2, 2010 at 2:21 pm
Great article and awesome solution for the problem... I am tired of people complaining about the "Hannah Montana syndrome" but never giving any way to stop it. 
queenmandi said...
Jun. 21, 2010 at 6:34 pm

I completely disagree. Hollywood isn't doing a thing to children. Hollywood sets a horrible example and extends adult life to children. They tell them they're ugly and fat so that they can spend their parents' money on their products. But who's letting them do this? Who's standing by as their children's self esteem is being destroyed? Who's letting them grow up so fast? Their parents. Maybe these parents should grow some balls, turn off the tv or computer or phone and tell their child that th... (more »)

vballchick replied...
Jun. 25, 2010 at 4:34 pm
Thank goodness someone who agrees with me. It was truly an awesome article and I'm glad you had the coruage to write it. You go and keep at it!!!!<3
foreverwelsh said...
May 28, 2010 at 10:26 am

At last, someone who agrees with me!

Great essay!!!

AveryG13 said...
May 24, 2010 at 7:03 pm
I love this! So true! The celebrities and television shows that children are watching today are just terrible. But that's not the fault of the celebrity, they're just working. They aren't there to babysit kids and be good role models (even though they should be -and are to some people.) It's the fault of the shows' directors, producers, the fault of the parents of these celebrities. Hollywood really has taken a turn for the worse...ruining generations.
hootowl4 said...
May 23, 2010 at 9:16 am
i totally agree, nice job!!!
sailerc This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
May 16, 2010 at 4:49 pm
this is an amazing article, i completely agree. Good job arguing your point too!
sweetiecow said...
May 6, 2010 at 8:34 pm
I completely agree. My friends aren't even friends because of that. Amazingly enough, I agree, because I'm independent. Others? They like the flow
CassieSherman14 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
May 6, 2010 at 10:42 pm
I totally agree with the article and with sweetiecow. it's sad but true. The media doesn't even care as much about talent as they care about looks. I try to avoid people like that but it's so hard because many people at my school are affected by that stuff too.
faypirate23 said...
Apr. 22, 2010 at 3:48 pm
YEs!!my lil neices know all the words to low its not good at allll they even made up a dance to it their 4 and 6!!rememmber seasame street and barney and pbs those were actually good educational shows lol know even the wiggles look wrong and doodle bop i mean cmon its perverted half the timme and not teaching kids anything
Phantom_Girl This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Nov. 8, 2010 at 1:48 pm
Reminds me of the little girls in my neighborhood. I listen seven and eight year olds singing the songs on their iPods (how did seven and eight year olds get iPods anyhow?) and I wonder how in the nine levels of Dante's Inferno do they know all the words to "Blah blah blah"? I mean, I know we shouldn't shelter kids, but come on! They knew every freaking word! This wasn't just about them hearing it on the radio or on their mom's iPod-they knew the song!   
faypirate23 replied...
Nov. 8, 2010 at 6:34 pm
yeah i know right ...whats this world coming
songofheaven said...
Apr. 21, 2010 at 9:45 pm
I love Elton John, and Peter Pan! Not only that, but I just love old things. I'd really love it if everyone knew who Jimmy Page is, and listened to Jimi Hendrix on a daily basis. Not only would I get along better with everyone, but it's cleaner music, too. You don't hear a demanding teen who wants everything money could buy. There was a certain amount of modesty 40 or 50 years ago that just isn't there anymore, and I don't think it ever will be thare again. It's very sad, just what televisi... (more »)
allie929 said...
Apr. 20, 2010 at 4:00 pm
Awesome article! It's so true.
MayDay said...
Apr. 14, 2010 at 9:47 pm
Yes! Finally, some one with a great sense of reality. This artical is really good.
xBaByGiRrL22x said...
Apr. 14, 2010 at 9:30 pm
wow, excellent!! i luv this & completely agree. ya said it all:)) plz keep writingg
PurpleFeather said...
Apr. 14, 2010 at 4:21 pm
Excellent! I have the same exact opinions, but everyone seems to think I'm crazy. They act like it's okay to be indecent. I think the media is desensitizing us. You did a really great job with this.
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