Do Hollywood's Naughty Celebs Influence Teens?
In spite of how diligently we try to guard our kids' impressionable minds, somehow the entertainment industry’s pressures gets by our best protective filters: Movies, TV, ads or simply standing next to glossy magazine covers at the grocery checkout line exposes our youth to celebrity lifestyles and choices.
Teenage girls searching for inspiration, self identification and individuality are an especially impressionable group seeking advice from mass media, but a little parental guidance is needed for tender-teen minds looking for someone to emulate.
"Every parent worries that [their] kid is going to want to be like this idol that they have plastered all over their room," said "Good Morning America" parenting contributor Ann Pleshette Murphy.
Keeping up with (no, not the Kardashians!) fashion and cosmetic trends worn by Hollywood teen starts is definitely fun! Any self-respecting girl would be able to effortlessly guide you through endless shimmering shelves of glitter and lip gloss at cosmetics counters, or lead you through department stores' clothing mazes ... blindfolded! But, adolescent girls' style choices are easily swayed by sleek displays and the media.
For conscientious parents, it's a constant struggle to try to balance the exposure our girls have to the unrealistic messages young starlets send to this easily-influenced age group; from shows like Pretty Wild (this show deserves its own post!), to Lady GaGa's eccentric costumes, to Taylor Swift's clean-cut image, all are at ubiquitous ends of the style spectrum.
On the other hand, not all fashion or Hollywood publications deliver bad news about the latest young celebs' outrageous looks or naughtiness; we hope gone are the days of Britney Spears shaving her head, picturing Miley Cyrus swinging from a pole or Lindsay Lohan slumped over drunk in her car.
Undoubtedly, our young girls are growing up fast partly due to the availability and instant accessibility of information regarding celebrity's standard of living. Parents trying to achieve equilibrium seem to have a huge work load if constantly monitoring TV shows and other media ambushes, but it can be done.
"Whenever anything happens in the news that becomes what we call a 'teachable moment,' we really need to take advantage of it," Murphy said. "It becomes an opportunity to really share your values with your kids."
With guidance from you, the parent, balancing realistic lifestyle aspirations with a little Holly-reality will help get both of you through the difficult self-discovery stage of every teenage girl.
After all, what young woman doesn't like a little glitz to an otherwise unglamorous teen existence?
Here a few tips to help you keep healthy proportions of Hollywood fantasy in your teen's reality:
· Clothing - Talk to your daughters about the messages attire sends to others. In our beach town, short shorts and UGGs have attained 'uniform' status. However, in spite of the eye-rolling or the usual "everybody wears this" excuse, don't be afraid to tell your child, "You're not leaving the house looking like that!".
· Cosmetics - From not allowing any make-up to be worn before a certain age, to purchasing the latest MAC color palette, parents need to set age-appropriate looks before they get out of hand. And, keep an eye on that eyeliner, it's the most commonly abused cosmetic item by teens.
· Magazines - Seventeen, Nylon, Teen Vogue and other age-related publications can be helpful to get a sense of the latest fashion and cosmetic trends for teens. However, exercise some caution; I've been unpleasantly surprised by publications like Glamour Magazine's racy content .
· Self Image -Talk about the unrealistic imagery in magazines and reality television shows; girls who are too skinny, have perfect skin and coiffed hair can be good grooming objectives, but are not realistically attainable for most of us.
· Unaffordable Bags and Rags - Counter increasing ideas of popularity due to materialistic ownership of the latest fashion or accessories by dedicating time to volunteering and serving your community instead of becoming a "mall rat". These values have a longer lasting sense of satisfaction than instant gratification with material substitutes.
· Communication - When news, magazine covers and radio headlines are dominated by the latest teen celeb mischief, seize this as a teachable moment and ask your teen what she thinks about this particular incident or her opinion on current Hollywood trends. It's a good opportunity to let her know what you value most in her: kindness, generosity, compassion, etc.
Generally speaking, keeping our kids grounded in today’s overindulgent society is difficult but not impossible. Using your parenting instincts is a far better choice than going along with your child's fleeting wants.
Finally, to illustrate that not everything coming out of Tinsel Town is bad, I was relieved when I heard Simon Cowl's observations on a recent American Idol episode about the now-17-year-old contestant Katie Stevens' unsuitable outfit choice, "You're look should match your age. You're only 16 once."