In class last Thursday, we discussed Kay S. Hymowitz's essay, "Tweens: Ten Going on Sixteen."
The youth of today is growing up too fast, says Hymowitz. Girls dress like teenagers at ten. They put away their dolls and put up posters of "hot celebs." Meanwhile, boys start experimenting with petty theft and drugs. When they get together, it's trouble. Kids are having sex, as young as twelve years old.
Our class felt that the essay spoke true. Some of us shared observations of young girls copying this trend. The baby-sitters, dance teachers, and coaches in the class had a lot of evidence to back up Hymowitz's argument. Once we told our stories, we went on to figure out why. Why do kids grow up too fast?
In a few cases, we found that girls grow up too fast because their parents let them, or even encourage them. In others, we found parents absent and working all the time. Older siblings watch over the younger ones. But - as Katie pointed out - the older sibs can be bad influences.
There are other factors that contribute to kids growing up too fast. Like TV.
"Why does the media have so much power over kids?" Stacey asked.
Paige replied, "Well, we watch TV all the time."
To prove the point, we talked about Miley Cyrus. She's the role model for young girls today. She's been photographed half naked, straddling motorcycles in miniskirts, and pole dancing.
It's not the most wholesome image. Bombarded with this on a daily basis, it's no wonder girls grow up thinking it's normal.
Some of us were not so easily convinced. Brittany pointed out that hundreds of years ago, it was normal for girls to get married at fourteen years old. Jess argued that the problem could be fashion. Stores manufacture "Bootylicious" shorts and "100% Naughty" training bras for ten-year-olds. "Kids buy what places sell," she said.
Perry argued, "It's not about fashion, it's about sex." That's a really interesting point. If kids grow up too fast because they are interested in sex, we have to wonder what's making them interested. Are they repressed? Or are they too free? Or maybe... are they normal?
We ended our discussion, telling stories of getting teased in school. As random as it sounds, we weren't really off track. Think back to when you were a kid. What motivated you to go along with the crowd? Sometimes, it was fear of getting made fun of. Perhaps these over-sexed kids are simply trying to keep up with their peers? The more ahead of the game they are, the less behind they will fall.
Some questions to pursue further in writing:
1. What causes tweendom? Is it absent parents, the media, or peer pressure?
2. What does tweendom say about our culture? Does it prove that our society is morally disintegrating? Or is it simply a sign of changing times? Consider what we argued about in class. Remember that nearly every generation has looked at future generations and thought the world doomed.
3. Hymowitz wrote this essay in 1998. This means that most of us were tweens at the time it was written. Analyze your own tweendom. Does it fit to Hymowitz's assessment?