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Death of the Tween Phase

by Kayla Mulligan

The opinion pieces expressed in this publication, The Montclarion, are those of the author(s). They do not claim to reflect the opinions or views of the The Montclarion, other than Editorials written by The Montclarion Editorial Board staff.

I am going to make an educated guess that when you think of who you were at ages eight to 12, you might cringe. You might shock yourself by seeing your outfit choices, why you thought that hairstyle was ever cute or your choice of room decor.

For me, my tween phase was filled with colorful plaid shorts, crocs and an obsession with making cheesy homemade music videos that made me question what I was thinking.

I do not say these things to make us hate who we were back then, but rather to notice the absence of that essential tween phase now.

I recently came across a video online of two young girls, about nine years old at most, filming a makeup tutorial. The two young girls spoke of how their anti-aging cream helped their skin glow more than ever, a cream I had just recently been able to afford at 21.

It would seem that kids today are surrounded by instant pictures of “perfection,” whether that be on TikTok, Instagram or whatever media is now instantly at their disposal. I catch myself thinking, “These kids are so much more put together than I was at their age.”

It made me feel a bit sad to see two young girls apply makeup and anti-aging cream to their young beautiful faces, clearly influenced by our culture of achieving some type of unrealistic perfection as a normal daily routine.

And it is not those kids’ fault, it would not even be right to blame their parents. Rather it is our changing trends in media and even fashion that seemingly pressure these kids to hurry up, grow up and be “perfect.”

As I worked in a popular retail store over the past year, I would see the new clothing that would come in our shipments weekly. It would seem that every shirt I seemed to like would be just a bit too cropped for my liking. Then, I would notice that stores in my hometown mall became much more selective. No more Justice, which was my favorite store as a young tween. A nice graphic tee with a silly monkey on the front would be exactly what I was looking for. No more clothes for younger tweens, just an influx of cropped, mature clothing that young girls seemingly thought was the norm.

Ultimately, girls’ fashion has transformed from child to teenager. We are missing the in-between, the fashion and phase that allows young girls to experiment with different looks and let them not look perfect because that’s unrealistic.

It is not just fashion, but media and trends. “Pretty” people get the likes and attention, and that is what these young girls and boys are learning. Where is the focus on intelligence? Creativity? Things that allow kids to evolve into something more.

We have allowed society to change into a socially catastrophic construct in which kids no longer have the room to be as young, silly and awkward as some of us once were, a vital phase that allows them to find who they are as they age.

We have become so transfixed on looks and what we can consume in a 15–60 second TikTok, that kids are finding ways to make themselves replicate these standards, standards no person should have to live up to. We have unknowingly eliminated this tween transition phase that allows kids to step into the teen world and find their style and sense of self.

I hope in the future there will be more clothing stores that allow kids to wear silly shirts, more media representation of creativity or other attributes apart from physical looks, and an acknowledgment by us, the young adults of society, that these unrealistic standards are exactly that. Extremely unrealistic.

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