An Influential Society

Sierra - Elgin, Illinois
Entered on November 20, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

Society has always been there, telling us how to look and act. But at some point, society made a mistake. Society went down a path that it cannot easily turn around on. I believe that society has a way of influencing kids by the media. They convince children, not always knowingly, that they must act and dress much older than they are. I must admit, I went down that path with society as well. But as I went down that path, I never realized that someone would follow my example. I never thought someone would want to be “just like me”.

I am new at being a sister and I’m not great at it. What I never noticed was how much my little sisters act and dress how I do. I came home one day to find my nine-year-old sister dressed like a prostitute. When I confronted her about it, she simply said, “I want to be like Paris.” I was shocked that she would say that, but as I looked around our room I became less surprised. Posters of a fourteen-year-old Miley Cyrus in 4-inch red pumps and Bratz dolls wearing barely anything, dominated the room. Her radio was blasting “Sexy Can I” and her seventeen-year-old aunt, who is a mother of two, was lying on the bed, not even shocked by the atmosphere my sister was in. I almost lost it. I told my nine-year-old sister that dressing older than she actually was was a bad thing; that acting in that way implied more than she understood and I wouldn’t let her do it. She said I dress older for my age too, I said that was different, and we both realized that it wasn’t.

Society influences me just as it influences her, but I know the consequences of dressing or acting in a way that makes me seem older. I don’t want to be the one to tell her to stop pretending to be Paris because Paris made sex tapes. I don’t want to let her know that Hannah Montana is dating a twenty year old underwear model. Maybe it’s not my place. I grew up with the same ignorance as her, letting society influence me as it wished, but I believe that I was stronger, more resilient, because of the adults that surrounded me. The adults that surround her, however, are teenagers and early twenty-year-olds molding this girl into what society had molded them into. It’s no longer strange to be a teen mother or a size zero. It’s on the cover of magazines, all over television, and out on the streets. People seem surprised by the little girls mimicking these things. They shouldn’t be though; they are the ones that end up putting influential things out for their children to see. People should be able to realize what’s going in to their children’s’ heads before they become shocked at how they’re acting. I’m not shocked. I’ve realized that it’s all so inevitable since we’re already so far down that path we started on. Like I said before, we can’t easily turn around. The consequences of our actions will be severe this time, but utterly deserved.