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.

Kayoung Lee said...
on Jul. 31 2009 at 5:03 am
Kayoung Lee, San Jose, California
0 articles 0 photos 3 comments
I think you have a really solid, well-written essay. I agree that the media's "role-models" these days aren't doing a great job at role-modelling. But I also agree with Sana that in the case of HSM Tisdale is supposed to be the spoiled antagonist who usually doesn't get what she wants because of her greediness. In that sense, the movie portrays that greediness on the long run doesn't lead to success.

on Jul. 30 2009 at 3:48 pm
despurlock DIAMOND, Morgantown, West Virginia
79 articles 0 photos 179 comments

Favorite Quote:
"The heart has its reasons which reason does not know." -Pascal, Pensees, 1670

Great job! Fantastic! Your points here are wonderful. Girls should be taught to be proud of their originality and inspired to reach their own goals, so as to not only conform to be the Hannah Montanas of the world. Again, great job :)

on Jun. 30 2009 at 4:03 am
one_of_a_kind_girl GOLD, N/A, California
16 articles 0 photos 58 comments
This is very true. If it weren't for tv and the internet and all of these distractions, I think all of us would grow up to be better people.

on Jun. 28 2009 at 3:43 am
ScribbleScribe BRONZE, Sewell, New Jersey
1 article 0 photos 4 comments
My cousins are one of the many of our generations adolescence that practically worship Disney stars. I completely agree with everything said in this article. You know, it's reall nice to know that I'm not the only one NOT debating who is hotter, Kevin, Nick, or Joe. It seems like the Entertainment Enterprise is as bad as Polilitics nowdays. And what's with the panties that say, "Dive in"??? Are you SERIOUS!!! I almost want to raise Walt from the dead and see how Mickey Mouse transformed into Hannah Montanna and High School Musical.

So, yeah, this is awesome.

on Jun. 28 2009 at 2:52 am
i have seen hsm 2 countless times and i have never told any1 2 "fetch" me some thing.

ericcalleigh said...
on Jun. 21 2009 at 11:59 pm
ericcalleigh, Bancroft, Wisconsin
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
i agree with what was said here. i think that what they have on movies and other shows are teaching young girls the wrong thing. it is one thnk to let them dress up and pretend to be the princess but it is another to let them get waht they want all the time and let them run the show. they are destoring the young girls in this world. with this going on they want to wear makeup and act as if they are 16. they need to be the little girls they are and not worry so much about how they look and just let them be the little girls they are

rubiesrrare said...
on May. 29 2009 at 9:15 pm
my cousins are 10 and 7 and every time that they turn on their hsm, i almost have to cry. the 10 yr old is going to my old middle school and my aunt said that a few days ago, she came in and asked what a "BJ" (*cough, cought*) was! i think that now, if 10 yr olds are learning to dress like street walkers and gyrate like pole dancers (sadly, i have seen a 6 yr old do this...and a 5 yr old at the day care that i work at get into trouble because she was "doing what mommy and daddy do" and showing all the little boys her "privates".) i don't think that the media should get all of the blame for this, i think that the responsiblity should fall on the parents, too. but if the parents are the only good examples, then what are we to do? (and to krishka: my brother, personally would have beat the mess out of me if i had EVER acted like that or done/ worn those things; i'm almost 18 and he still freaks when a guy friend who's known me for 7 yrs. hugs me!)

on Apr. 21 2009 at 9:47 pm
BookWorm579 PLATINUM, Elk Grove, California
26 articles 0 photos 33 comments

Favorite Quote:
"à cœur vaillant rien d’impossible [nothing is impossible to a willing heart]" -French Proverb

While I do agree that young girls may have some less-than-savory role models out there, I think that children (despite growing up too quickly) would be a little too young to understand all the possible meanings of the wording on their underwear beyond the obvious one. As for these bad role models, though they are out there, Sharpay is a bad example of one. Girls watching will be old enough to understand that she is at least "not very nice" and probably won't be inclined to mimic the "bad guy".

FRANKIEyo said...
on Mar. 19 2009 at 2:53 am
So true....I hope more people realize what the media really can do

Brooke Vogt said...
on Mar. 18 2009 at 8:27 pm
Brooke Vogt, Orlando, Florida
0 articles 0 photos 2 comments
I definately think that the media is encouraging young girls to behave like this. I agree with you almost 100%. I just a few decades ago this stuff would have been considered appalling, and if it has already gotten this bad, what is it going to be like in another thirty years. Look at our grandparents and see how much differen we are from them. When we are grandparents, what will the world be like? We need to stop letting the young kids (the next generations) act like this. Or at least to that extreme. I mean, when the time comes, we'll all let our kids have a little more freedom than we ever had, but they will do the same with their kids. And i mean, if it keeps going like it is right now, the whole world is going to be a bunch of hippies for God's sake.

on Mar. 18 2009 at 3:17 am
PlumbThePuma BRONZE, Eatonville, Washington
1 article 0 photos 5 comments
I agree with this statment to a certain extent. yes our generation and more specifically the younger population is influenced by dramas like Hannah Montana shows and the underwear is a little over the top, but it is the parents who guide the child. But also some parents could care less what their ten year old daughter wears. so i agree more or less.

Jessattk said...
on Mar. 16 2009 at 9:39 pm
Very good article, i can totally see where your coming from. Some girls are wayyy to influenced by this kind of thing. Sometimes little girls just need to be little girls.

on Mar. 15 2009 at 10:44 pm
Xx_kishka_xX BRONZE, Eatonville, Washington
3 articles 1 photo 8 comments
So true.. I'm so glad that my sister isn't into that kind of stuff. ^.^

Sana W BRONZE said...
on Feb. 27 2009 at 9:51 pm
Sana W BRONZE, S, Maryland
1 article 0 photos 4 comments
"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." I disagree, at least with this case. Although our youth is fairly impressionable, I suppose it's up to us to judge how well we know them. I think it's common sense to distinguish between a fictional TV drama/movie and real life. Of course, this common sense differs from person to person, and while everyone is open to becoming a "sheep", not everyone will be. Also, in this case, Ashley Tisdale's character is made out to be the kind of girl you would *not* want to idolize. In both High School Musical movies, she succeeded in isolating herself and ruining any potential acting prosperity by acting in the snobbish, demanding way the song proves her to be. Good job on the writing. =)