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.

. said...
on Aug. 2 2010 at 10:07 pm
Too right. Why can't kids look up to people like writers or doctors, instead of Britney Spears? BTW, I love the article, but I do like Jimmy Choo shoes

on Aug. 2 2010 at 4:05 pm
deus-ex-machina14 BRONZE, Stewartsville, New Jersey
1 article 0 photos 439 comments

Favorite Quote:
"There are two main tragedies in life. One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it." -Oscar Wilde

I couldn't agree more. The media distorts our generation's idea of what a girl's body should look like and that's what causes things like anorexia and bulimia. They lead to permanent physical damage and sometimes death. Great job and valid points!!

on Aug. 2 2010 at 2:30 pm
kyeiskitkat SILVER, London, Other
5 articles 0 photos 1 comment

Favorite Quote:
'The answer to life, the universe, and everything is 42' - The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

I agree with you. My sister is six-years-old, and so still a little young for the 'Hannah Montana' craze, I think, but I'm definitely trying to steer her in a different direction. Yesterday, I pulled out my old Nintendo 64, and she and I spent almost the entire day playing Pokemon Snap. That's what being a kid is about, not how you look!

But, then again, the TV show 'Hannah Montana' has plenty of great messages; being yourself, chasing your goals, staying close to your family, being a good friend. The thing is is that Miley Cyrus is growing up, and she should be able to experience it, and make a few mistakes, just like everyone else, without the whole world turning on her.

on Aug. 2 2010 at 12:22 pm
article really is fabulous totaly agree i mean in society today we make it out where girls need to be perfect or else they are just trash. that an the fact that is it really necessary to have everything anyone could dream of to be perfect? I mean who cares if what your wearing was from dulce an gabanna or from target? An jimmy choo is a designer

on Aug. 2 2010 at 11:52 am
DiamondsIntheGrass GOLD, Martinsville, New Jersey
14 articles 1 photo 278 comments

Favorite Quote:
Worry is simply a misuse of the imagination.

i totally agree, you wrote this article really well. but what is jimmy choo choo anyway? yeah... i dont pay much attention to that stuff...

on Aug. 2 2010 at 11:19 am
whispersofthenight GOLD, Tallahassee, Florida
10 articles 2 photos 35 comments

Favorite Quote:
I am an artist; I paint with words.

I completely agree. It's so true. Great article :)

on Aug. 2 2010 at 8:05 am
blueberrybird2_8 SILVER, Chiang Mai, Other
5 articles 0 photos 7 comments
So true! Kids are taught now to grow up faster. It's sad. :(

on Jul. 28 2010 at 11:11 am
♥♫music4ever25♥♫, Phoenix, Arizona
0 articles 0 photos 14 comments

Favorite Quote:
shoot for the moon, even if you miss you'll land among the stars! :)

i agree with this article, i really do. but you have to step back and rember that its not just little kids who have role models that are no good. As teens we have quite a few people we seem so willing to worship when they're not anymore fit for the role as miley is.

leliza BRONZE said...
on Jul. 11 2010 at 9:38 pm
leliza BRONZE, Wichita Falls, Texas
1 article 1 photo 17 comments
I love this; I feel exactly the same way about our world. I grew up with listening to the Beatles and Elton John, not Hannah Montanna and the Jonas Brothers; watching the Disney classics not The Suite Life of Zac and Cody. When I was a kid, Cartoon Network had The Flintstones, the Jetsons, and Tom and Jerry- not the bizarre shows they have today. What happened to Tom and Jerry and the Beatles? Every kid I see doesn't even know what they are.

Jennie said...
on Jul. 11 2010 at 8:36 pm
okay... this is my favorite article on this website. its official. you don't know how many times i want to scream at parents and say "Why are you letting your daughters go out in public wearing cut off shorts (which look like underwear) and see through shirts????" thank you SOOOO much for this article.

on Jul. 10 2010 at 4:47 pm
JustAnotherOwl SILVER, Unknown, New York
6 articles 0 photos 378 comments

Favorite Quote:
"See, we don't really care who you are;
Everyone is capable of looking up and wishing on a star.
So catch it, so contagious, this day-dreamer's disease,
And hope can be your sword, slaying darkness with belief."

"Sanctuary"- Paradise Fears

I love this article! Really nice job! :)

princess6 GOLD said...
on Jul. 8 2010 at 2:12 pm
princess6 GOLD, Berwyn, Illinois
10 articles 0 photos 42 comments

Favorite Quote:
"You choose your own destiny" :)

Luv dis article!!!!!!!!!!! Ok so i'm in 8th gr. and I do like name brand things but some girls in my class take it to far.. bragging about getttin a $250 Coach purse like who cares...definetly not's jus a waste of money. BTW luv da lst line bout Hoping ur daughter dinks Jimmy Choo is bubble gum!!

GABSALOTT96 said...
on Jul. 2 2010 at 2:21 pm
GABSALOTT96, Lake Wylie, South Carolina
0 articles 0 photos 4 comments

Favorite Quote:
"One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain."
— Bob Marley

Great article and awesome solution for the problem... I am tired of people complaining about the "Hannah Montana syndrome" but never giving any way to stop it. 

on Jun. 25 2010 at 4:34 pm
ashbadash BRONZE, Ocala, Florida
4 articles 1 photo 45 comments

Favorite Quote:
Friends are like glue, they always stick by your side.

Thank goodness someone who agrees with me. It was truly an awesome article and I'm glad you had the coruage to write it. You go and keep at it!!!!<3

queenmandi said...
on Jun. 21 2010 at 6:34 pm

I completely disagree. Hollywood isn't doing a thing to children. Hollywood sets a horrible example and extends adult life to children. They tell them they're ugly and fat so that they can spend their parents' money on their products. But who's letting them do this? Who's standing by as their children's self esteem is being destroyed? Who's letting them grow up so fast? Their parents. Maybe these parents should grow some balls, turn off the tv or computer or phone and tell their child that they're beautiful and that no matter what they do they won't look like those celebrities because no one looks like that. You made some good points but this is generally wrong, the blame is completely on the parents because no matter what time period you're looking at there will always be something that is a bad influence on chilldren.

-A 15 year old girl who probably watches the same stuff as your child but bad a very good mother.

on May. 28 2010 at 10:26 am
foreverwelsh BRONZE, Cardiff, Other
2 articles 4 photos 32 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Thin, like butter over too much bread" JRR Tolkien

At last, someone who agrees with me!

Great essay!!!

AveryG13 GOLD said...
on May. 24 2010 at 7:03 pm
AveryG13 GOLD, Dexter, Michigan
12 articles 1 photo 92 comments

Favorite Quote:
"The best thing to do with the best things in life, is to give them up to those who have nothing."
- Ambrose Bierce

I love this! So true! The celebrities and television shows that children are watching today are just terrible. But that's not the fault of the celebrity, they're just working. They aren't there to babysit kids and be good role models (even though they should be -and are to some people.) It's the fault of the shows' directors, producers, the fault of the parents of these celebrities. Hollywood really has taken a turn for the worse...ruining generations.

on May. 23 2010 at 9:16 am
manga_maniac SILVER, Bloomington, Indiana
8 articles 1 photo 79 comments
i totally agree, nice job!!!

on May. 16 2010 at 4:49 pm
tennisplayergirl GOLD, Arrington, Virginia
10 articles 0 photos 36 comments

Favorite Quote:
"He who will not risk cannot win." John Paul Jones

this is an amazing article, i completely agree. Good job arguing your point too!

on May. 6 2010 at 10:42 pm
Alice_in_Wonderland GOLD, San Clemente, California
16 articles 0 photos 620 comments

Favorite Quote:
“I could give up, I could stay stuck, or I could move on, So I put one foot front of the other, No no no nothing’s gonna break my stride, “ –David Archuleta (The Other Side of Down)

I totally agree with the article and with sweetiecow. it's sad but true. The media doesn't even care as much about talent as they care about looks. I try to avoid people like that but it's so hard because many people at my school are affected by that stuff too.