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.

lnvo97 GOLD said...
on Nov. 29 2010 at 6:46 pm
lnvo97 GOLD, Chicago, Illinois
15 articles 0 photos 40 comments

Favorite Quote:
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
Matthew 5:44

yes, but now Demi is in rehab just like Lindsay....

Susie Dibs said...
on Nov. 24 2010 at 6:35 am
Right on!!!!!!! i'm glad i'm not th eonly one who feels like the childhood of our present children is being snatched away and replaced with fake and fabricated strip dancers.

on Nov. 20 2010 at 11:08 pm
DaydreamBeliever GOLD, Lockport, Other
15 articles 4 photos 140 comments

Favorite Quote:
If you live to be one hundred, I want to live to be one hundred minus one day, so that I'll never have to live without you. -Winnie the Pooh

Over 50% of young girls are more afraid of becoming fat than losing their parents.

on Nov. 19 2010 at 9:01 pm
Alexandrathepoet PLATINUM, Leesville, South Carolina
35 articles 0 photos 119 comments

Favorite Quote:
If nothing else, believe in art.

If she's "being herself" why does she have an alter ego?

on Nov. 8 2010 at 6:34 pm
faypirate23 DIAMOND, Fayetteville, West Virginia
61 articles 0 photos 103 comments

Favorite Quote:
Take the road less traveled by.

yeah i know right ...whats this world coming

on Nov. 8 2010 at 1:58 pm
Phantom_Girl GOLD, Ft. Carson, Colorado
14 articles 0 photos 279 comments

Favorite Quote:
"If it comes out of the lion's will be on the test."
-Mr. Bala

I gotta agree with you on that point. I like this article, but the song "Fabulous" is supposed to show how ridiculous Sharpay is in obsessing over everything fabulous. Granted, little girls could take that song out of context, but overall, it's pretty harmless.

Other than that, I completely agree with this article.

on Nov. 8 2010 at 1:55 pm
Phantom_Girl GOLD, Ft. Carson, Colorado
14 articles 0 photos 279 comments

Favorite Quote:
"If it comes out of the lion's will be on the test."
-Mr. Bala

I know what you mean. I got a job babysitting a little boy. I thought I would have my hands full-taking him to the park, playing tag, all that good stuff. I didn't do anything...he sat on the couch and played video games the whole time. He didn't even budge when I suggested that we go play on the swings. What on earth? When I was a kid, you didn't even get to finish the word swing before I was out the door. You got out "SWI" before I was screaming like a banshee and pulling my sneakers on.

And as for the girls I babysat...well, at least I made progress with them. We built houses of cards and played Go Fish. I chased the girls around the house and outside. These little girls didn't know every word to the vulgar songs they play on the radio. Sure, they were a little more interested in their appearances than I we were at their age, but at least they weren't dolled up in lip goss and eye shadow.

Maybe there is hope for the future.

on Nov. 8 2010 at 1:48 pm
Phantom_Girl GOLD, Ft. Carson, Colorado
14 articles 0 photos 279 comments

Favorite Quote:
"If it comes out of the lion's will be on the test."
-Mr. Bala

Reminds me of the little girls in my neighborhood. I listen seven and eight year olds singing the songs on their iPods (how did seven and eight year olds get iPods anyhow?) and I wonder how in the nine levels of Dante's Inferno do they know all the words to "Blah blah blah"? I mean, I know we shouldn't shelter kids, but come on! They knew every freaking word! This wasn't just about them hearing it on the radio or on their mom's iPod-they knew the song!   

on Nov. 8 2010 at 1:37 pm
Phantom_Girl GOLD, Ft. Carson, Colorado
14 articles 0 photos 279 comments

Favorite Quote:
"If it comes out of the lion's will be on the test."
-Mr. Bala

"Dive In"....? You're telling me not ONE Disney marketer saw that design and said, "Um...guys? Maybe we should try another slogan...Just sayin'." Wow. Just wow.

This is too freaking true. I remember being a little girl and wearing jeans and pink Tweetie Bird T-shirts. You are not supposed to care what you look like when you're 10! And oh my goodness the clothes! I've seen eight-year-olds in clothes so skimpy I wouldn't be let out of the house in them-and I'm twice their age! When did Walmart start selling spaghetti straps in XXS?  

on Oct. 29 2010 at 4:56 pm
BrookXoxo BRONZE, Andrews AFB, Maryland
4 articles 4 photos 22 comments
the high school underwear saying is repulsive.

TuffGurl said...
on Oct. 29 2010 at 2:21 pm
I agree with you. I agree with the article 100% (but think parents have some fault -- they're the ones letting their little girls wear padded bras with see-through shirts at eight), but I do like designer clothes. There is a difference, because the designer ones are just made of nicer fabric, you know? That's why I DO NOT shop for clothes at Target or shop for ANYTHING at Wal-Mart.

TheJust ELITE said...
on Oct. 29 2010 at 2:21 pm
TheJust ELITE, Ellenton, Florida
254 articles 202 photos 945 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I feel that a hero is somebody who will stand up for their values and what they believe in and that can take any form. People that have values and have thought them through rather than those who just do what they’re told."-Skandar Keynes

"When it’

Because part of thinking of others instead of yourself is working together. If you work together, there's no room for selfishness.

TuffGurl said...
on Oct. 29 2010 at 2:15 pm
What I wonder (and you said that they should think about others than themselves), why is one of the songs in "High School Musical 2" called "All for One"?

on Oct. 7 2010 at 6:34 pm
LostInTime SILVER, Charlotte, North Carolina
8 articles 0 photos 7 comments

Wow, I love this article. 

If you go into a walmart or target looking for not-so-appropriate clothes, you will find the bulk of them in the Little girls section.


Its sad really.

brkarcher said...
on Sep. 24 2010 at 8:59 am
Haha, that is hilarious, and very true!

on Sep. 15 2010 at 7:56 pm
broken_red_wagon BRONZE, Bothell, Washington
1 article 0 photos 12 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I would rather be hated for who I am, than be loved for who I'm not." Kurt Cobain

Wow, it's about time someone wrote about this. I admire your writing. I hope this makes into a big newspaper one day, because everyone needs to be reading this. Fabulous work, though!

on Sep. 15 2010 at 6:00 pm
THIS IS CRAZY AMAZING. i think about this stuff soo much, how society changes us all the time. like, for instance, the color pink. if for 100 years society said pink was a boy color, so it would be. its the opinion of the greater public that changes us. and u write REALLYY well. I LOVE THIS!! PS-the part about teh underwear MORTIFIED me!!

lyssa28 BRONZE said...
on Aug. 24 2010 at 2:42 pm
lyssa28 BRONZE, Las Vegas, Nevada
2 articles 0 photos 89 comments
your writing is amazing!  I have a  sister who is always worried what people will think about her because she cant fit into abercrombie clothes and she  has only 1 aeropostale shirt. She shouldnt be worrying about that! she's only 10! when Miley cyrus' "cant be tamed" came out my sis was mortified because she wanted miley's outfit but couldnt get anything near it because it was too revealing.

on Aug. 24 2010 at 10:49 am
thebushhippie PLATINUM, Sandown, New Hampshire
24 articles 0 photos 49 comments

Favorite Quote:
Leave behind your own footprints! :0)

Wow, so true! Great job writing this...I know WAY too many young girls who fit this description to the T. Awesome job!

on Aug. 24 2010 at 9:47 am
itscomplicated PLATINUM, Boxford, Massachusetts
20 articles 0 photos 17 comments

Favorite Quote:
"The best way out is always through." -Robert Frost "I think, therefore I am." -René Descartes
"Life is never easy for those who dream." -Robert James Waller

wow rlly great article and i totally agree with everything you mom always tells me this story of when i was little: it was the middle of winter and freezing out and i wanted to b beautiful so i went outside in my snowsuit and my little cinderella "glass slippers". my mom couldnt believe it! i agree that just one celeb isnt to blame but ur totally right that so many kids r affected by what they see on tv. great job!