Are the Teens of Today a Dying Breed?

Picture this! Your child is browsing through the latest teen magazine and she’s analysing all the latest ‘in-crowd’; Victoria Beckham, Lindsay Lohan, etc, who generally have a body mass index that would rival that of an infant suffering from malnutrition. She stops and looks closer and then declares “Gosh I wish I had a figure like that!”

I remember when my daughter was seven (she happened to be built like willow the wisp!) attempted to grab her tiny tummy, as she stood analysing herself in my mirror and announced that she was too fat! At which point I told her not to be so silly and swiftly changed the subject. Now perhaps some may think that I should have sat her down and had a long in-depth discussion, but she was much happier with my suggestion to paint a picture than be lectured on the dangers of slimming!

Which is exactly my point! Children should be children, and allowed to grow upwards and outwards while their bodies are finding their natural state without worrying about a bit of excess flesh here and there.

skinny barbieMy friend was telling me recently that her child, who too is seven, worries about the fats and sugars of all she consumes and has an unhealthy obsession with cleaning her teeth. So where has all this paranoia come from? Surely children have better things to discuss in the playground than how many calories they are consuming? Whatever happened to hop scotch or French skipping?

Am I on my own in thinking that something is desperately wrong in our society. If such signs of obsession were carried by the minority it would somehow seem a little less horrific but it is becoming the ‘norm’; and the victims of this prolific hallucinogenic disease are becoming younger and younger.

The thinner the better is now the order of the day, and unfortunately there are many young girls queuing up prepared to do whatever it takes, including starving themselves, to emulate their favourite stars. They think that all the fake, retouched smiling faces on the cover of the magazines portrays the happiness that is their lives; but for many of the rich and famous this is far from the truth and no amount of perma-tan and teeth bleaching can mask their issues of unhappiness.

Surely the editors of teen and general gossip magazines too have a ‘duty of care’ to all those that view their pages; and that includes the young and impressionable. These magazines are everywhere, whether you buy them or just browse through them. You can even find these sad images flipping through the worn pages in a doctor’s waiting room. Almost ironic when you think that most of the stars, who have less meat on them than a dog’s bone, will probably end up sat in one at some time or another for the very same reason they are being sensationalised!

Eating disorders are not, as many people think, anything to do with food and everything to do with feelings. Therefore, if this terrible disease stems from emotions rather than the physical condition itself, then perhaps the glamorisation of thin models and celebrities is purely the ‘straw that broke the camel’s back’; and all the criticism of media frenzy amongst the size zero brigade is more the catalyst for an unhappy individual than the direct cause of an eating disorder.

Some may say we are becoming a society who likes to lay the blame at other peoples’ door and not take responsibility for ourselves, or our children!

Nevertheless, there is still a massive market out there for the fake and famous and it is one that is incredibly profitable. Should the publications and media make a stand and acknowledge what long term damage they are potentially doing by exposing our young and impressionable to these unrealistic, unhealthy and unobtainable images? Or will the money override the morals and people’s need to peruse these perfect images keep the vultures circling?

One thing remains to be seen: if future generations of womankind follow this fad and spend most of their fertile years destroying their bodies; inconceivably, perhaps the children of today will not be able to have the children of tomorrow!

“What Became of the Dying Breed?” Now that would be a shocking headline.

Rachel Gardiner is stay-at-home Mum with four children. She has been writing prolifically now for the last two years and is working on her first novel, in-between creating her own website Blossom Poetry for her first love, poetry. She can be reached at: Read other articles by Rachel.