What do think about when you hear the phrase “American teenager?” If you answered a) “troubled insecure child with an uncertain educational future” then I can assure you that you’re not alone. It seems to be that the majority of the adult population (and even youth from other countries) associate American youth with the so called “trashy pop culture” and such stereotypes that undoubtedly have their place in American culture but at the same time by no means represent everyone. Being a “teenager” myself, this doesn’t just strike me as demeaning but also can be incredibly frustrating.Sure, most teens share certain things in common—perhaps a particular liking towards music, clothes, video games—but these materialistic things do not necessarily mean that every teen with their headphones listening to music is a “bad child.” Picture this…what comes to mind when you hear the phrase “group of teenagers hanging out the mall”? Perhaps a group of troubled children with uncompassionate parents who, instead of busy studying their SAT (as they should), resort to pulling pranks and giving off a ---shall we say---“bad vibe.” Throw in a pair of all too low pants, chains, and unruly clothing and you’ve basically got the picture there, huh? Wrong. The frustrating this is that this is often far from the case. Why can’t we instead visualize a group of decently dressed youth shopping around the mall and checking out their favorite stores just like any other group of mature and responsible adults would? The truth is, part of it is the fact that teenagers have earned a bad reputation for themselves, but also that the media and Hollywood often projects adolescents as following the endless cycle of “party hard, get yourself into trouble, okay then rehab” and such. Now I’m blaming anyone who makes their assumptions just on media—but seriously? I would say that a Hollywood produced film that you’ve rented is hardly ever a reliable source of knowledge.
I guess what I’m just trying to say is that it’s exasperating to hear the same critical and judgmental remarks and see the same cautious and wary looks whenever the words “American teen” are mentioned…To have the almost insulting expectations of getting a low-to-average G.P.A. in school, be disinterested in life in general, and having an almost “corrupt” social life. Having to challenge these stereotypes and first impressions daily has really put this in perspective for me and almost seems unfair—sure, we all can’t help but make our judgments, but is every 13 year old really a shallow and depressed child on the verge of committing a crime? The answer is no.