Media Stereotypes of Teens

October 13, 2010
I text so much I’ve started speaking in abbreviations. And the truth is I, like, can’t say a few, like, words without, like, completely, like, saying “like.” Really, it doesn’t matter that my vocabulary consists of nineteen words; as long as I can barely pronounce the names of my clothing brands, I’m content to giggle and twirl my extensions around my finger.
It’s an empowering feeling to know that the media regards me so highly. Just think, I’m such a unique and distinct individual that, not only do I fall into a generic category, but I’m joined by about six million other girls aged fifteen to nineteen.
Television typically paints teenage girls as one of two things: clueless and superficial, or intelligent and independent (but desperately longing to be like the former and, conveniently, succeeding by the end credits). Granted, there are a few instances where stereotypes don’t dominate, but more often than not, this isn’t the case.
There are labels the media stamps on the adolescent forehead: the jock or cheerleader (Bring it On 1, 2, 3…are they still making those?), the princess, the geek (much like the loner or outcast), the rebel (equipped with the “you don’t understand me” mentality), and the average guy (aka that person in the hallway who doesn’t really do much).
Truthfully, all the characteristics are there, but what is being grossly overlooked is the fact that real teenagers don’t fall into one category. Without sounding completely cliché, every person has something that makes them unique. But, according to almost every depiction we see on TV or hear on the radio, teenagers are too limited to venture from certain expectations. We’re told that we are self-centered and shortsighted. We’re told that we are not distinct enough to be distinguished by the small things that make us different.
What the media doesn’t tell me is that I’m seventeen, but I already know I plan to attain a PhD in English and I want attend Anderson University. What the media doesn’t tell me is that I am a person who thinks independently of my Teen Vogue. What the media doesn’t tell me is that I don’t need the media to know who I am.
And I don’t think there’s a stereotype for “individual.”

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This article has 4 comments. Post your own now!

Destinee This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Oct. 25, 2010 at 8:31 pm
This was really good. The last sentence was bang-on. Great piece. Hope you get published. :D
russianreader said...
Oct. 23, 2010 at 4:33 pm
This is really good and completely true. People say that the labels aren't used any more, but they are still there in high school! I love the way you began the article. It was very creative!
ashwater1 said...
Oct. 22, 2010 at 3:29 pm
I totally agree. I'm only 14. I can understand where this is coming from- the way i look, act, and talk, like, personally, I feel like I'm walking around with a stamp on my forehead that says 'Delinqent teenager' which really isn't me at all. It's like, "Yes, I am a teenager. No, I'm not going to vandalize your front lawn, steal your car or try and sell you drugs.' Really liked how you set up your article and wrote about something most kids can relate to. Nice job.
toxic.monkey said...
Oct. 18, 2010 at 12:42 pm
The sarcasm in the beginning is great and this is a good article, but it feels a little unfinished. (nevermind me I love your article:P)
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