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.

Similar Articles


This article has 194 comments.

on May. 6 2010 at 8:34 pm
sweetiecow BRONZE, Ramsey, New Jersey
2 articles 0 photos 10 comments
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

on Apr. 22 2010 at 3:48 pm
faypirate23 DIAMOND, Fayetteville, West Virginia
61 articles 0 photos 103 comments

Favorite Quote:
Take the road less traveled by.

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

on Apr. 21 2010 at 9:45 pm
songofheaven BRONZE, East Amherst, New York
2 articles 2 photos 51 comments

Favorite Quote:
I have found power in the mysteries of thought. -Euripides

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 television, movies, and the media can do with the minds of little kids. I'm sick of rap. I'm sick of dressed up, airbrushed celebrities, so why don't we all take a trip back to the Wonder Years, and show these kids just what great music, food, and fun is. I'd like to have a cool block party, complete with picnic baskets and baseball games. It's just too bad that I won't ever be able to have fun quite like that. Great article. Great reality check, too. =)

allie929 said...
on Apr. 20 2010 at 4:00 pm
Awesome article! It's so true.

MayDay said...
on Apr. 14 2010 at 9:47 pm
Yes! Finally, some one with a great sense of reality. This artical is really good.

on Apr. 14 2010 at 9:42 pm
imperfection GOLD, Gilroy, California
17 articles 9 photos 45 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Dream as though you'll live forever, live as though you'll die today."
~James Dean (1931-1955), American Motion Picture Actor, symbol of rebellion

I agree with AsherJ. My brother quotes popular kid shows, like iCarly and Penguins of Madagascar, all the time. I wouldn't use the word "brainwashed", but I don't think my brother is trying to be cute. He just watches this show all the time and has built certain phrases into his vocabulary. He isn't obsessed; he doesn't go into a store and look for iCarly shirts. Not that I don't agree with the article, but brainwashed isn't the correct word to use here.

on Apr. 14 2010 at 9:41 pm
xBaByGiRrL22x PLATINUM, Pearl River, New York
22 articles 0 photos 280 comments

Favorite Quote:
"The goal isn't to live forever, but create something that will."
"If you wanna go, baby let's go; if you wanna rock, I'm ready to roll.''
"No one ever said it'd be easy. They just said it'd be worth it." <3

I like ur pointz. It's just, the writer isn't specifically blaming one person or idea. Just pointing out that our youth is being sucked into the whole world of looks are everything. I don't believe they're becoming necessarily brainwashed, but I do think they're trying out the many different things that surround them whether those who are older see it good or bad. It's just wht kids do. They'll learn wht's right for themselves hopefully someday.

on Apr. 14 2010 at 9:30 pm
xBaByGiRrL22x PLATINUM, Pearl River, New York
22 articles 0 photos 280 comments

Favorite Quote:
"The goal isn't to live forever, but create something that will."
"If you wanna go, baby let's go; if you wanna rock, I'm ready to roll.''
"No one ever said it'd be easy. They just said it'd be worth it." <3

wow, excellent!! i luv this & completely agree. ya said it all:)) plz keep writingg

on Apr. 14 2010 at 5:44 pm
I definitely agree with this article. Though I was never the typical little girl who liked to dress up my Barbies (I made them into action heroes instead), I babysit children who sound just like the three little girls mentioned in this article. Is it so hard for their parents to let them watch Robin Hood or Aladdin, or some movie that won't try to teach them that beauty is everything?

on Apr. 14 2010 at 4:21 pm
PurpleFeather BRONZE, Canton, Connecticut
1 article 0 photos 124 comments

Favorite Quote:
"The pen is mightier than the sword." - Edward Bulwer-Lytton

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.

on Apr. 14 2010 at 1:52 pm
S-Chique00 GOLD, Dundalk, Other
10 articles 0 photos 18 comments

Favorite Quote:
Rocky Balboa: You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain't how hard you hit; it's about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. How much you can take, and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done.

absolutely brilliant, you perfectly conveyed a message which i have been proclaiming for years! excellent work :)

on Apr. 14 2010 at 6:52 am
laptoploser1220 GOLD, Deltona, Florida
12 articles 0 photos 8 comments

Favorite Quote:
“Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. THAT'S relativity.”- Albert Einstein

Oh my god, I love this article. You did an amazing job (:

on Apr. 13 2010 at 3:06 pm
the_Horsegirl SILVER, Minneapolis, Minnesota
8 articles 0 photos 118 comments

Favorite Quote:
People need dreams, there's as much nourishment in 'em as food.
--Dorothy Gilman

If there is such a thing as truth, it is as intricate and hidden as a crown of feathers.
--Isaac Bashevis Singer

Wonderful essay, I was blown away by it.

ssssss BRONZE said...
on Apr. 8 2010 at 7:09 pm
ssssss BRONZE, Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin
1 article 0 photos 28 comments

Favorite Quote:
If you love something, let it go, if it comes back to you it's yours, if it doesn't, it never was.

I know exactly what you mean. I remember when I was younger I used to always ask my mom stuff and all she'd tell me was "No. But, don't take it the wrong way. I just want to protect your innocence." I would just pout and find the answer to my question at school the next day. One of my friends works at a school where PRESCHOOLERS know more about drugs than she does. It's really sad to watch what's happening to our youth these days.

quinsha_k said...
on Mar. 29 2010 at 10:38 am
quinsha_k, Surabaya, Other
0 articles 0 photos 2 comments

huft, speechless when i read it.

only one sentence, like this article.

on Mar. 23 2010 at 8:48 pm
firstsnowfalls DIAMOND, Marcellus, New York
51 articles 6 photos 105 comments
Completely agreed! Thanks so much for writing.

Boulangere said...
on Mar. 23 2010 at 8:26 pm
You have a lot of great points in this article. Great job babysitting- I babysit a little boy and I don't know WHAT all is going into his head. It's so sad to see the changes going on over the last decade.

on Mar. 23 2010 at 2:01 pm
artist-on-the-loose BRONZE, Francestown, New Hampshire
1 article 1 photo 4 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul" -Emily Dickinson
(beautiful, don't you think? :) )

Thank you, those girls are very lucky to have you.

I agree with other commenters that "Fabulous", while dreadful, is not so bad in message when taken in context. The writer may not have seen High School Musical I & II and only heard the song. I saw it in 5th grade (I was never a fan), and I can tell you that a) Sharpay was not admirable, but b) to me, she was the most interesting character because she wasn't all sugar cookies and rainbows...but maybe that was just me.

As for all those comments about young girls going shopping - I STILL shop with my mom!! Then again, this may be because I am a social loser. :)

on Mar. 18 2010 at 11:34 am
crazyandshort BRONZE, Ariton, Alabama
2 articles 0 photos 2 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Lead me not to temptation. I've already found it."

Oh my gosh, I totally agree with you! I used to be a HUGE fan of Britney Spears, and then all the scandals started and I went "OH, geez, maybe I shouldn't look up to her. She shaved almost all her hair off! That's smart! NOT!" I think we should educate the younger persuasion they need to look out and realize that not everything they see their favorite stars do is glamorous and great.

Vanessa C. said...
on Mar. 14 2010 at 1:03 pm
Sounds like to me your brother was just trying to be cute. I mean that show always has them receiving consequences for their actions. Do you really think he's being brainwashed?