Justin Bieber, Willow Smith and Miley Cyrus. What do they all have in common? They’re all pop stars. They’re all ‘hip’ and ‘now’. They all seem to be icons to the youth of today. And this is the way it’s been for them from about the age of eleven. At that age I didn’t care about fashion, money or success. I walked around in my gap hoody wearing my buck teeth smile and centre parting with pride. I enjoyed my childhood for what it was. A childhood. But it seems these days that a childhood is a thing of the past. With kids as young as five wearing make up and by the time they’re in double figures having a wardrobe that would rival most ‘fashionable’ twenty somethings surely we should as a society be realising enough is enough?
I myself have a younger brother. I’m twenty and he’s fourteen. We were both brought up by the same parents, in the same house, with the same rules. All be it six years apart. However, if I look back to when I was ten, I hadn’t a care in the world for beauty or fashion. My hair probably looked like I’d been dragged through a bush backwards most days and my outfits like they’d been put on in the dark. But by the time my brother was that age he was already spending longer in the mirror than I reckon I do now. Making sure his hair was in the right place. That his outfit matched. Making sure he looked ‘cool’. I thought it was strange at first and then I noticed they all do it. His whole generation. They’ve been brought up believing that to be successful or to be someone you have to be ‘beautiful’, you have to be ‘cool’, you have to be noticed. There are fourteen year old girls that turn up on our doorstep for a movie night wearing heels and the latest see through top shop fashion, fake tan galore and enough make up to sink the Titanic, joined by fourteen year old boys wearing the latest, expensive yet seemingly boring jumpers with hair that doesn’t seem a millimetre out of place. Yes they look pretty/handsome and they look happy, yet I can’t help but feel somewhat sorry for them. This childhood-less generation. They’ve been doing it since before their teens. It’s a normality. But then I guess they don’t really know what they’ve been missing.
I know there is that saying ‘sex sells’, which I’ve already expressed my feelings about in a previous post, but surely there should DEFINITELY be a line drawn when it comes to children. How can any fifteen or sixteen year old boy or girl sing a song about love or sex. Listen to pretty much any song by Justin Bieber or Miley Cyrus and if you remove their clearly childlike voices whilst closing your eyes, they’re singing about things that most people don’t even experience until their late teens or early twenties.
Take a look at previous child stars, Macaulay Culkin and Lindsay Lohan for example. Both ended up lets just say more than a little bit fucked up. But can we really say they’re to blame? Their most innocent and important years, for developments sake anyway, were spent in lime light and fulfilling other peoples high and demanding expectations. Most five year olds pick up a hair brush, sing along to the telly and tell you one day they want to be famous. But actually letting your child grab for and attain such fame at such a young age is surely only stunting their growth, not to mention setting them up for a momentous fall?
I hate to be speaking with what seems like a half empty glass but I really can’t see this from a half full perspective. One of the most exciting things about children is their ability to create and to dream on an unbelievable scale. They create worlds and fantasies, all games, all enjoyed, all healthy. But the difference these days is that my generation were still playing, creating and dreaming these fantasies up at nine and ten. Unfortunately unlike the youth of today – I feel like calling them children would be somewhat of lie, since the dictionary definition of a child is:
‘(n.) A young person of either sex. esp. one between infancy and youth; hence, one who exhibits the characteristics of a very young person, as innocence, obedience, trustfulness, limited understanding, etc.’
When is society going to sit up and take notice that this current beauty and fame driven facade isn’t helping anyone. Least of all those who should be allowed to learn, develop and grow at their own pace. Not a pace which is set for and pushed upon them. To be extremely corny and cheesy, children are the future, but what sort of start are we giving them if we deny them a childhood altogether?