October 29 , 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 33  

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Message to kiddies: keep your clothes on!

Give it to her straight
Lori Mastronardi

A&E Editor

On Nip/Tuck, a spicy new drama centred around the lives of two plastic surgeons, a boy is caught by his mother at a rather awkward time - he's partaking in the pleasures of a threesome. Laughter ensued from the group of us watching, though the giggles were quickly replaced with slight gasps upon the realization the character was a mere 16-year-old. Clearly, he looked much older. Was it wrong I found him attractive?

From soap operas to angst-filled teen dramas (see Dawson's Creek), characters seem to be cast as much younger than they appear to be. Why has this trend persisted for so long? The reverse is also true, as young superstars cling to an image of maturity, as is the case with stars like Hilary Duff and the Olsen twins.

Is 16-year-old Duff really hot or do you just possess pedophilic tendencies for thinking so? Is it even possible to characterize the Olsen twins (aged 17) as good-looking without disturbingly associating them with the family-focused Full House? Should people feel wrong for finding them attractive when they're clearly intended to look that way?

Young girls have become increasingly sexualized in that JonBenet Ramsay way, while there really isn't a male equivalent. I guess what you could conclude is that young guys are pushed to mature into the ever-so-classy role of the pimpster. Bow Wow (just recently having dropped the "Lil") has been made to appear older than he really is. His videos are highly sexualized, as this teenage boy is surrounded by a thick crowd of even younger girls. Sample lyrics from his new album, so cleverly entitled Unleashed, which includes the track "Eighteen": "When I turn eighteen /I need a girlfriend older than me /And she gon have to be a dime if she rollin wit me."

Teenagers parallel the appearances of these young celebrities and mature characters. If you've ever been to the mall on a Friday, you've seen the phenomenon as well. Kids fresh out of grade school look like walking ads for Stitches, as they strut their juvenile stuff through the pseudo club atmosphere, when it's really just another measly trip to the mall.

It's disturbing to think 13-year-olds are mackin' it up and even scarier to realize it's probably the fastest growing trend around. Teens are learning to showcase what they've got - even though it hasn't even fully developed yet.

It makes everyone in the 20-something bracket feel that much older - and I know I'm not quite ready for that yet. I don't see the need to rush through adolescence. I just want little kids to keep their clothes on. Please.



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