So Long, Wonder Years | Teen Ink

So Long, Wonder Years MAG

February 25, 2009
By Denise Leland BRONZE, Spokane, Washington
Denise Leland BRONZE, Spokane, Washington
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

“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.

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This article has 194 comments.

on Jan. 12 2012 at 9:17 pm
AEAluvsanimals SILVER, Yorba Linda, California
6 articles 0 photos 64 comments

Favorite Quote:
"All creatures bleed the same blood. He who spills the blood of any of god's creatures, he spills the blood of man." - Private Journals , Landerath
Dragon's Milk.
"It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live."- Dumbledore
Harry Potter 1

I completely disagree with this and the voice is just obnoxious 1 Sharpay who sang that song is supposed to be flawed, not a prime example of perfectness (cough gabriella's character cough)I don't know how you missed that. She's a disney villian, not a complex character 2 you're implying this girl went dressing as this disney star by going around in her underwear , when she probably bought some plastic costume from a store or dressed as the character in the show dresses. 3 what's wrong the shorts, shirts, and makeup. There's nothing wrong with showing your skin, especially if it's not meant sexually, as it wouldn't be in a nine year old. And what's wrong with a child in eyeshodow? Is it worse than a girl trying on her mom's high heels? No. 4 Maybe that has more to do with the rising childhood obesity problem than the media. 5 Ummm, why does liking Elton John make you a better person? What gives little miss music snob? 6 Peter Pan is a jerk. Tinker bell was willing to DIE for him and he forgot her name like that! While he embodies the carefree mischeif of youth, he also embodies this truth: kids can be bratty, with or without modern standards. All in all you seem to just want to see yourself as a girl completely removed from modern shallowness, and come off sounding like a judgemental prude who can't write a convincing or articulate essay. That's MY opinion. And you know what I find sad? So many girls who consider themselves unique intelligent feminists are carbon copies of you!!!!!!!

on Jan. 12 2012 at 9:16 am
hobo12321 PLATINUM, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
20 articles 11 photos 62 comments

Favorite Quote:
none, there's too many, although the one about the grapefruit is good. Any by Douglas Adams

Amazingly well written, and interesting topic. I didn't know a lot of that stuff (maybe because i don't babysit, or live in america?) but i can really see how it's such a strong opinion. Great job!

on Dec. 27 2011 at 3:52 pm
Good_life13 BRONZE, Latrobe, Pennsylvania
4 articles 4 photos 3 comments

Favorite Quote:
Anything by Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Nicholas Sparks.

This honestly made me want my childhood back! Very well written!

on Nov. 7 2011 at 4:19 pm
Rocinante SILVER, Wexford, Pennsylvania
7 articles 1 photo 386 comments
Aww this is sad...all too true, too... Little kids like that should be outside playing with their buddies or house with stuffed animals, not worrying about losing weight or "fitting in" or any of that kind of stuff. Your article is very well written, by the way. Nice job!

on Oct. 16 2011 at 8:42 pm
EclipsesMidnight SILVER, West Tawakoni, Texas
8 articles 0 photos 1 comment

Favorite Quote:
~Stay gold Ponyboy. Stay gold~

to already be worried about fitting in by being skinny? itz alarming to me and it scares me. Little girls, and even the little boys, should be themselves

yuka11 SILVER said...
on Sep. 24 2011 at 1:44 pm
yuka11 SILVER, Gilmer, Texas
5 articles 0 photos 25 comments

Favorite Quote:
"For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads." -Doctrine and Covenants 25:12

I really agree with this. I think that t.v. is "babysitting" a majority of kids and they are picking role models that shouldn't even be roles to follow. T.V., especially the Disney channel, is portraying extreme personalities that kids think are "normal". Anyway, this is really well written. Great job!

fube said...
on Sep. 2 2011 at 10:47 pm
Sorry, this is my other opinion. No, Disney isn't after world domination nor is Nick. The shows are different, times have changed and honestly some of those sitcoms, while not as friendly as they could be, have good lessons. As a kid i did stupid things i saw on TV. whether it was Ed,Ed and Eddy or Hannah Montana. If you have a kid who is obsessed with whatever and you don't to them about about reality and TV it's your fault. Also i grew up on Hannah Montana, Suite life, Ned declasssified and idon't think beauty is the most important thing, neither do most my friends. Don't knock it out before you try it.

fube said...
on Sep. 2 2011 at 10:23 pm
Great writing. i agree with you, kids need to be kids. i see girl six years old wearing belly shirts in public! It's digusting, something for teenagers. Instead of babydolls they have peircings and sparkling headbands. What happened to ingeunity and intelligience, why is beauty and materials prized over them? i must sound old but, what happened to cartoons. I think you could show them some: Phineas and Ferb , Fairly Oddparents ,shows that show the joy of being a kid. I think with cartoon Dsiney and Nick have got it, with sitcoms, no.

on Sep. 2 2011 at 8:19 pm
beachychick BRONZE, Grass Valley, California
2 articles 3 photos 11 comments

Favorite Quote:
Perfection is not doing everything perfectly all the time, perfection is being able to look in the mirror and say at you tried everything you could- you've given it your all, you've done everything you can to make yourself better. That is perfection

I so agree. Its so terrible how little girls think that the only thing they're good for is getting a guy and looking "hot" I was babysitting a little girl, and her friends. They played a lot of games. Then, we missed Emma. When I found her, she was lying on the floor with her hands clasped on her chest. So, I asked her what she was doing, she sighed exsasperatedly and explained "Duh! I'm waiting for my prince" 

Um, okay...

on Sep. 2 2011 at 7:55 pm
Lola_Black GOLD, Harrison, Michigan
11 articles 2 photos 276 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I've always been famous. It's just everybody's just now finding out." --Lady Gaga

I totally agree with you, and this is very well writen, too! It's ridiculous what kind of messeges young girls are recieving today. Oh! And did you here about this tee-shirt JC Penny came out with, before a barage of complaints sent it reeling? "I'm too pretty to do my homework, so my brother has to do it for me" I can feel the feminist movement diving into decay at this very moment.

on Sep. 2 2011 at 6:37 pm
Laura_Oliver GOLD, Manchester, Connecticut
12 articles 2 photos 122 comments
I totally agree with you. That's why it's always a good thing to require uniforms and to have no-makeup rules in a school, to decrease the influence those materialistic items have on the girls.

on Sep. 2 2011 at 6:35 pm
Laura_Oliver GOLD, Manchester, Connecticut
12 articles 2 photos 122 comments
Oh, and you know what's funny? I saw a 'Zwinky' fashion-girl thingy advertisement on this article, showing an extremely skinny and busty girl in her underwear, ready to be all 'dressed up'. I think the advertisers do that on purpose.

on Sep. 2 2011 at 6:33 pm
Laura_Oliver GOLD, Manchester, Connecticut
12 articles 2 photos 122 comments
This is really shocking for me, to know that girls only a few years younger than me (I'm on the lowest end of the age group on this site) are so ridiculously obsessed in Disney stars and wearing revealing attire. Next they'll move onto Nicki Minaj and 50 Cent and realize, "Hey, the only way for me to be recognized and appreciated is for me to be skinny and wear inappropriate clothing!" I was never like that as a child even if the option was available, although my reason is a bit shallower, as I deemed the various Disney shows 'stupid'.

on Aug. 11 2011 at 12:36 pm
-deedeshay BRONZE, Chicago, Illinois
2 articles 0 photos 3 comments

Favorite Quote:
- In order to love life you have to love the struggles that you have learned from & overcame -deedeshay

This is very thoughtful , your a great writter. Keep doing what you love it will follow you up well in the future.

on Jul. 20 2011 at 10:44 pm
lightningscar- BRONZE, Stratford, Other
3 articles 0 photos 32 comments

Favorite Quote:
There are many causes for which I would die for, but none for which I would kill.

very thoughtful and clever, great job! 

. said...
on Jul. 20 2011 at 8:24 pm
You just explained everything that I couldn't put into words!!  And you made it funny and intersting! Love it!!!

on Jul. 20 2011 at 7:03 pm
KristinHopkins8 SILVER, Aspen, Colorado
7 articles 0 photos 83 comments

Favorite Quote:
"If a writer falls in love with you, you can never die"

very clever when you said " i think Walt just flipped over in his grave". you have style, you are concise, and i was interested in what you had to say the whole way through. Keep up the good work!

on Jul. 20 2011 at 4:36 pm
WeeSunshine BRONZE, Saint Louis, Missouri
1 article 0 photos 3 comments

Favorite Quote:
"An author has skill when he/she can pull their reader into their story effortlessly. J.R.R. Tolkien is one!" - my friend

Brilliant! I really commend you for writing the last bit of your article. So many say (even me) about how media is imprinting a bad influence on adolescents...but, often, we don't solve the problem by pointing it out. We solve it by taking the initiative :) thanks! 

Leisie BRONZE said...
on Jul. 2 2011 at 2:45 pm
Leisie BRONZE, Denver, Colorado
2 articles 0 photos 3 comments

Favorite Quote:
I have many.

This a great article that reveals the truth about the media's (namely Disney) affect on young girls. I hope to see more articles like this.

lfill said...
on Jun. 30 2011 at 7:55 am


   You are a very good writer and this piece is very well done.  Too many students these days forget that opinion pieces must still have evidence supporting their views to back up their essay.  This is very well done.  It is refreshing to see a young person's essay without wildly inappropriate "LOLs" or "OMGs" peppering the page.  Believe me, I have seen it.  Thank you for remaining true to language and literacy while still remaining current enough for other young writers to take notice.