Modern popular culture has adverse effects on teens


Photo courtesy of Google Images

Ambika Vartak - Staff Writer

As the name implies, popular culture has a significant influence on a teenager’s everyday life.  Clothing stores, social media and music on the radio are topics that students discuss on a daily basis.  However, this type of popular culture may be dangerous, as it has begun to have a negative impact on teenagers in their most formative years.

Brandy Melville, a popular clothing store, sells “one size fits most” clothing that is only suitable for thin girls.  Girls that do not fit the store’s standard size may feel dejected and may go to the extent of starving themselves just to pull off the “Brandy” look.  The brand sends a wrong message to girls by implying that skinny girls are the only ones that can look beautiful in their clothing and are the only girls who should be wearing the clothes.  These messages encourage teens to go to radical extremes until they can reach the accepted norm as defined by the store.  Brandy Melville should make different sizes for a wider variety of customers and motivate teenage girls to embrace their bodies.  Similarly, the portrayal of women in advertisements and fashion magazines establishes a warped image of perfection.

“I think that popular culture portrays celebrity and beauty from a biased and unrealistic standpoint,” said junior Mara Goldman.  “Young women in particular are given an expectation that they can often not fulfill, making self-worth mistakenly placed in our appearance.”

Many posts on are images of girls  cutting themselves in hopes of displaying their vulnerable and complex personality.  However, they are supporting the idea that cutting is the only way to resolve all problems and to show the world that they have feelings.  These injuries can cause people to feel even more depressed.  Moreover, even if the person overcomes cutting, there is a physical reminder in the form of permanent scars and bruises.  Also seen on the Internet is a Brandy Melville shirt that reads “stressed, depressed, but well dressed”.  The store seems to take the word “depressed” lightly while in reality, depression is a serious mental illness that should not be ridiculed.  These websites and stores should take preventive steps toward banning these harsh pictures and slogans that belittle these serious issues.

Pop music artists also promote promiscuity.  Miley Cyrus’s vulgar performance with Robin Thicke during the 2013 Video Music Awards had a negative impact on social media sites throughout the world.  Crude performances like this encourage the growth of promiscuity.  At such a young age, risque behavior not only has harmful effects on the body, but more importantly, the behavior has the power to destroy a teenager’s self-respect.  Seeing celebrities act promiscuously influences a teen’s actions in a negative way, leaving him or her feeling regretful and foolish.

According to the Daily Mail, one out of twelve teenagers harms himself and a tenth of these teenagers continue to injure themselves during adulthood.  These statistics represent a sign of the country’s teenagers succumbing to the adverse effects of popular trends.  Teenagers should understand that there will always be Brandy Melvilles and Miley Cyruses in the years to come who will exploit a teenager’s vulnerability and innocence, but if teenagers have a higher self-esteem and a stronger moral compass, they will be resistant to the evils of popular culture.