Monday, August 08, 2005

Time Special Report: "Being 13"

"I don't know what the hell men think.
"I've given up trying to figure it out."
--Lauren Bacall

The YA affectionado in me was quick to snatch up the August 8, 2005 issue of Time magazine with its special report on "Being 13: inside that mystifying age when kids are shaped by the push to achieve and the pull of pop culture."

Not to be narcissistic, but the first thing I thought was: "Well, I'm 37 and still feeling the push to achieve and the pull of pop culture." You think?

That said, it's an interesting issue, well worth checking out, especially for those of us with a particular affection for teens and 'tweens. I have a myriad of related thoughts.

According to the lead, Little Red Riding Hood was a seduction story, which I've heard before, but also her cape was "a symbol of menstruation." News to me. Speaking of which, though, the average age for first periods has dropped about one month per decade. (It's still about 12). Experts are freaked because this shows no sign of stopping. One wonders aloud if it will hit the floor at nine. As in--gasp!--nine! Since we're on the subject, I first started my period at age nine, which was a drag but probably did not trigger the apocalypse. (I feel free to be candid about such things as I'm already published on the subject).

And since everybody seems to be talking about Rainbow Party (Simon & Schuster, 2005)(regardless of your opinion of the novel itself, we all must say "bravo!" to S&S marketing), a recent People/NBC poll found that "12% of 13-and-14-year-olds said they'd had oral sex, but three times that many admitted they didn't know what oral sex was."

The tie-in article "You Wanna Take This Online?" focuses on "cyberbullies," a phenomenon that allegedly "peaks at about age 13" and is all about girls--something like 21 percent of eighth graders reporting themselves as victims.

"The Push To Perfect" zeroes in on cheerleaders, but I disagree with its assessment that "cheerleading has changed a lot." Or, at least, I'd like to ask, since when? Like so much media coverage, what's new seems to be from a boomer perspective, totally skipping over GenX. There were girls with a decade plus of competitive dance and gymnastics on cheer squads in the mid 1980s. I'm not saying it's not worth talking about, but it's not new.

Other articles touch on keeping secrets and faith, which is apparently "in" in a big way.

Much to muse on, I say. And that's enough for me. Must pack!