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 Jun. 28 2011 at 5:33 pm
tarynpie BRONZE, Scottsdale, Arizona
2 articles 1 photo 28 comments
Thank you for coming out about this! I think this is a very important topic and I don't disagree with anything you said! I just want to make one comment.(and I'm talking about the others who commented) You guys are right. Disney is commercializing a lot of things that make a bad influence on our kids but I want to get it strait that it is the DISNEY CHANNEL side of the business who are messing up, not the true Disney that Walt had invented. If you look at disney through the eyes of the imagineers and animators then you would see that they really are down to earth and trying to bring the "magic" to every child. It is Disney Channel who are making the mistakes of puting young stars out to make big, bad, role models. I just want everybody to see the 2 sides of disney and know the difference. The magic we felt when watching The Little Mermaid, Lion King, and Lady and the Tramp is still around. You just need to know that it isn't what Walt intended, but those who took over the Disney Channel we know of today.

on Jun. 28 2011 at 5:11 pm
insearchofsoni BRONZE, St.John&#39s, Florida
3 articles 0 photos 13 comments

Favorite Quote:
"For you, a thousand times over."

YES YES YES YES YES! FINALLY! SOMEONE WHO SAYS IT LIKE I SEE IT! Oh, God! Disney's is trying to commercialize and take over the world, and it's so sad to see!

on Jun. 6 2011 at 2:56 pm
JoPepper PLATINUM, Annandale, Virginia
35 articles 0 photos 782 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Freedom is the ability to not care what the other person thinks."

"Not all those who wander are lost" --JRR Tolkien

"When you are listening to music it is better to cover your eyes than your ears." --Jose' Bergamin

Me too!!!  And the thing with kissing back then most people didn't have their first kiss until they were 16!! But now some people kiss at 12!! This one girl was asking me private questions and she asked "have you had your first kiss yet" I said  "no I'm only 13, I won't kiss until I'm 16"  She looked at me like I grew a third eye!  That is rediculous that 6 and 7 year olds are talking about and wearing bras when they don't need them!!!!!!! major yuck!! :)( 

on Jun. 6 2011 at 2:42 pm
JoPepper PLATINUM, Annandale, Virginia
35 articles 0 photos 782 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Freedom is the ability to not care what the other person thinks."

"Not all those who wander are lost" --JRR Tolkien

"When you are listening to music it is better to cover your eyes than your ears." --Jose' Bergamin

This is really good.... Though I never seen those type of underwear..... Yeah Walt flipped thrice in his grave.  Very well written!!!! I favorited it!!

on May. 25 2011 at 11:59 pm
Musicfeedsthesoul07 PLATINUM, Naperville, Illinois
25 articles 0 photos 95 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one. " - Bill Gates

I know!! You see these little girls at the mall picking out bras!!! Of course the entire bra is the padding, but still. 6 or 7 is a little on the young side, I don't think i even knew what that was back then. In fact I was trying to jump off a swingset and fly on a magical broom. 

on Apr. 25 2011 at 7:36 pm
Amor-Y-Palabras SILVER, Springfield, Illinois
5 articles 0 photos 38 comments

Favorite Quote:
"We must use the weapon of love. We must realize that so many people are taught to hate us that they are not totally responsible for their hate." -Martin Luther King Jr.

I love the funny parts you put after every paragraph!  Great essay :))

LadyShady GOLD said...
on Apr. 23 2011 at 4:23 pm
LadyShady GOLD, Jamaica, New Jersey
11 articles 0 photos 24 comments

Favorite Quote:
"To the people I forgot, you weren't on my mind for some reason and you probably don't deserve any thanks anyway." - Eminem

This is absolutely fabulous and completely true. I'm only 13, but through the years, I've seen such change it kind of scares me. There are 6th grade girls in my school who prance to the bathroom to re-apply make-up. I don't even wear make up! The new generation of youth are so concerned with their appearances, it disintegrated the whole meaning of being a kid.

on Apr. 1 2011 at 3:44 pm
Alex_Durham GOLD, Vineland, New Jersey
14 articles 1 photo 234 comments

Favorite Quote:
Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

So true. I liked how you added a bit of humor into this. It made it all the more interesting and entertaining. 

on Mar. 10 2011 at 11:47 am
-alice- PLATINUM, Colorado Springs, Colorado
21 articles 0 photos 81 comments

Favorite Quote:
I care very little if I am judged by you or any other human court; indeed I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. -1 Corinthians 4:3-4

This is so true, and it's really a sad thought.  Really good article thought!  It proves a point!

on Feb. 11 2011 at 9:54 pm
RedheadAtHeart ELITE, Mountain Home, Idaho
109 articles 0 photos 164 comments

Favorite Quote:
Love with open hands. - Madeleine L'Engle

This is so freaking true it isn't even funny. Bravo. I cannot agree more.

marei2331 said...
on Jan. 25 2011 at 9:06 pm
marei2331, Lubbock, Texas
0 articles 0 photos 71 comments

Favorite Quote:
For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others, for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness, and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.

Wow thank you so much! I am around all this little girls who are worried about make up and talking about there Bras!! there eight!? really??? I don't even wear make up. I believe that we learn so much from your childhood, and yes it's good to grow up, but always, always, hold on to those dear things from our childhood. (and lets hope that we give these little girls something dear to hold on to as well!) Keep up your writing :D

on Jan. 25 2011 at 3:15 pm
icingonthecake BRONZE, Riverside, California
3 articles 3 photos 82 comments
AMEN! But... on behalf of the music, I say show 'em some Adam Ant! THAT, my dear, is proper music.

Fire_Ice said...
on Jan. 9 2011 at 9:45 pm

I totally agree! When I was 10 I was wearing jeans and Harry Potter T-shirts, waving a brach in the air and waiting for my acceptance letter to Hogwarts. Now there are 10 year olds who wear tube tops and short shorts and are more worried about getting a boyfriend.

I miss the days when the clumsy Lizzie McGuire was the queen of Disney channel...

LaylaA said...
on Jan. 3 2011 at 10:16 pm
LaylaA, Buenos Aires, Other
0 articles 0 photos 13 comments

Favorite Quote:
“Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.” Oscar Wilde

I absolutely agree with your entire article. You hit the point right in the middle. This is brilliant. Please keep writing.

on Dec. 12 2010 at 10:56 pm
AelitaReloaded PLATINUM, Scottsdale, Arizona
22 articles 0 photos 179 comments

Favorite Quote:
"The pen is mightier than the sword" author unknown (to me)

I made a typo.  I meant: "the disney chanel isn't all bad, not that it is.  Just wanted to make that clear!

on Dec. 12 2010 at 10:53 pm
AelitaReloaded PLATINUM, Scottsdale, Arizona
22 articles 0 photos 179 comments

Favorite Quote:
"The pen is mightier than the sword" author unknown (to me)

Agreed!   Seriously, when you see little seven year olds wearing shorts that are way too short, it's just too much!  But that's not the only way in which the media influences our society!  They also effect relationships.  When my mom grew up, it was unheardof for you to have your first kiss before you were at least sixteen!  Thanks to the media now the age can dip as young as twelve... and even younger if we're being truthful!  I think there ought to be laws limiting the media from doing ceartain things on channels that are frequented by children.  (But I don't think that the disney channel is all bad. Most of the problem is that kids start way too early.  Also, atleast the Disney channel tries to pick out good role models.  Yes, a couple of them turned rotten, but they were innocent enough when they started!  They have a pretty good ration of actors who are normal and upstanding citizens compared to the rest of the media.)  Modern music is'nt all bad either.  You've got to seperate the art from the industry.  You can listen to a beautiful song, have no idea who it's by, and not know if they have done anything bad!  As long as the problem isn't the lyrics themselves.  Selena Gomez is pretty great for that! All of her lyrics are clean, and all but a few are very sweet, (even the ones that aren't sweet aren't terrible either, just not the best percedents if one was to take them litterally... Some portray slightly manipulative behavior, so I wouldn't reccomend it for a five year old who really doesn't know better, but a ten year old could listen to something like that!  Great article, it was well-written informative.

on Dec. 12 2010 at 6:21 pm
TheEdgar PLATINUM, Fayetteville, North Carolina
22 articles 1 photo 29 comments

Favorite Quote:
"If you are in need of forgetting something, make a note to remember it."

I've seen little girls who were worried about make up when i wasnt even allowed to wear make up.

schlage GOLD said...
on Dec. 12 2010 at 5:32 pm
schlage GOLD, Erie, Pennsylvania
10 articles 0 photos 37 comments
It's really weird when you go out in sweats and a tshirt and you see little girls wearing lowcut shirts or short shorts.

on Dec. 12 2010 at 11:22 am
ScorpionAngel16 BRONZE, New York City, New York
3 articles 0 photos 6 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Nobody can make you inferior without your consent"~Eleanor Roosevelt~

I love this article it has touch me to really think about today life...

VLythia GOLD said...
on Dec. 1 2010 at 4:32 pm
VLythia GOLD, Dallas, Georgia
12 articles 2 photos 8 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Guys, I think I'm gonna join clown school... But that means I have to grow size 15 feet and a big red nose. Naw, I'll just learn to fake it, but that's after I get an afro."

This is one of my favorite articles by far and it is indeed the first article on this website that has nothing about it that I feel the need to criticize.

You made all of your points very well without being overly judgmental. I'm especially impressed at how you refrained yourself from mentioning this inappropriate Disney channel role-model's name, unless that was moderating from Teen Ink. 

Something else I loved about this article was when you brought up Elton John and Peter Pan. Good job on the article and keep up the good work.