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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!

Emily555 said...
Dec. 8, 2009 at 5:29 pm:
I cannot say in words how much I agree in this. In music, TV and movies so many negative ideas are going out for teen agers and young kids to see. If some one took a random kids ipod and looked at all the songs, I bet a good majority of the songs would be about violence, sex , or drugs and alcohol. It is totally sick what media is putting into kids' heads nowadays. Some of the shows on kids TV channels I can't watch because they completely disgust me, and kids are getting the mess... (more »)
 
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Hisa-Ai said...
Dec. 3, 2009 at 7:40 pm:
I totally agree with you, TV these days is really bad. My school newspaper printed an article on how the younger generation is being negatively influenced by what's being aired compared to what us older kids grew-up with.
Like, my EIGHT YEAR OLD brother watches things like South Park, Family Guy, The Cleveland Show, American Dad, Futurama, and other inappropriate things that I was never allowed to watch at his age. And as a result, he says things that I would've gotten into trou... (more »)
 
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Banana_dragon said...
Dec. 3, 2009 at 7:10 pm:
W.B. kids was the greatest. Freakazoid, Animaniacs, and Earthworm Jim where my favorite shows. My parents video taped some episodes and I even drag them out sometimes too. I totally agree with you. Kids are meant to be kids, not mini adults.
 
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ReadingFanatic said...
Dec. 3, 2009 at 3:45 pm:
I SOOO agree with you. There's a guy in my carpool who's in kindergarten. He listens to stupid songs like Dont trust me and LIKES THEM. He says shut up and words that even I'M not allowed to say. Whats happen to out society? When I was little I watched Authur, Caillo, Blues Clues, and Tom and Jerry. I jknew these were for laughs and didnt grow up to be one. When ever I see something with Hannah Montana I gag. Instead if talking which Jonas Brother is hotter I talk about books, and... (more »)
 
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Abigail_W said...
Dec. 3, 2009 at 3:30 pm:
I remember when Disney Channel was Mickey Mouse (hence the little mouse ears in the corner of the screen) in the morning and episodes of Lizzie McGuire and Sister, Sister. Dang, I miss old television.
 
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lovehate29 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Dec. 3, 2009 at 3:07 pm:
Oh i'll have to agree with you on this.
good job. I like your opinion. My sister is a big fan of Hannah Montana and she acts like a little diva. She always want heels, she thinks she could get everything she wants, and sometimes she talks to me like I'm a dog. But I don't let her get away with it. I realized that she goes to school doing the same exact thing, except the kids there, almost bow down to her feet[figure of speech]. A lot of people think its cute, and funny. But ... (more »)
 
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DOLLFACE1000 said...
Dec. 3, 2009 at 10:53 am:
I totally agree with what you're saying. "With great power comes great responsibility" Celebrities KNOW that there are kids who look up to them, and they should act accordingly. Some handle it better than others. You don't hear about Selena posing for playboy, or Demi smoking pot, But what about Miley Cyrus, and Lynsey Lohan? Waht about good ol' Brittney Spears? When I was in second grade, I claimed to love Brittney Spears, and I didn't even know who she was! I only... (more »)
 
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orange said...
Dec. 3, 2009 at 8:55 am:
i actually can see what you are saying! I am quite concerned for our future generation. before you know it, disney will make those "dive in" underwear for 2 year olds.
 
ManekiNeko replied...
Dec. 3, 2009 at 10:20 am :
i agree with the idea of underwear with the words "dive in" is very worrying. i'm utterly disgusted by what disney has turned into.
 
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Emmalee This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Dec. 3, 2009 at 7:48 am:
Wonderful. :)
 
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Peanut:) said...
Nov. 28, 2009 at 10:47 pm:
ah! Cudos to you my friend (yah. I probably didn't spell that right!) I completely agree with everything you said. Very true, very true and I wish there were a few more like you in this world who recognize this madness that is turning our next nation's leader's in to the next Miley Cyruss' or Britany Spears'. Very well written. Powerful.
 
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Dara R. said...
Nov. 15, 2009 at 10:22 am:
so true! i was just reading something about a girl who became anorexic when she was only ten. that is WAY too young to feel fat. and i just saw two little girls at the mall in little belly shirts wearing a ton of makeup. disney makes me sick and ppl like miley and vanessa are terrible influences on young girls
 
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Nanna said...
Nov. 11, 2009 at 8:52 pm:
When I go to the mall, I see so many little girls wearing makeup, whipping out there cell phones, and even with dyed hair, and I say to my friends 'didn't we still shop with our parents when we were that age?' It's so unbelievable not only what girls are doing these days, but what their parents let them do. I love this article, because it says the truth. I remember when I was a kid I couldn't wait to finally start shaving my legs, because all of my friends were. As if it is cool? Then I see litt... (more »)
 
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Charity H. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Nov. 11, 2009 at 8:39 pm:
i think we should start a chain email about this, maybe that will help...
 
Abigail_W replied...
Dec. 3, 2009 at 3:32 pm :
Just don't say in it, "You'll be ugly forever if you don't send this along" or something like that. You'd get in major trouble.
 
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alex9426 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Nov. 11, 2009 at 8:21 pm:
you are absolutely right. if only the parents of paris hilton could have read this! i honestly don't know why disney hasn't fired miley cyrus and vanessa hudgens. they are (insert bad word here) and completely AWFUL people. it's no wonder girls are becoming shallower and shallower. thank goodness i grew up watching rugrats, arthur, and blues clues!!
 
ManekiNeko replied...
Dec. 3, 2009 at 10:23 am :
i grew up watching innocent cartoons (well, as innocent as you can get) and now disney and nick are airing shows that seriously shouldn't even exist. for example, nick is airing bleach (it's an awesome anime but way too violent for kids.)
 
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Michael T. said...
Nov. 11, 2009 at 9:53 am:
I believe it is the parents that are dressing there daughters up like this... okay so the manufactures are supplying the clothes and makeup but the parents are buying and dressing the girls... allowing makeup at 8 it just stupid.. these girls are going to grow up with no self-esteem and who knows what the future lies....
 
ManekiNeko replied...
Dec. 3, 2009 at 10:24 am :
my mom wouldn't let me wear make-up until i was 13.
 
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Schubster said...
Nov. 11, 2009 at 8:03 am:
I do agree with you a most ways, including the "Recess and Ed, Ed, and Eddy" part. I think that movies like High School Musical and Hannah Montanna should try and reach an older audience, since WE know that we shouldn't tell someone to "fetch" anything-it's just that characters personality. But the little girls DON'T know that and their young imaginations can't differentiate that from reality. Awesome job, though! :)
 
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