Purity, Shame, and Surgery | How Hollywood Warps Our Perception of Puberty

Purity, Shame, and Surgery | How Hollywood Warps Our Perception of Puberty

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Content note: This video contains  mentions and discussions of eating   disorders, dieting, plastic surgery, and  purity culture. Please proceed with caution. *jazzy piano music begins to play - music is in the description* "This is the age of the teenager." *jazzy piano music begins to play - music is in the description* *record scratch and VHS tape insert sound effect* *dramatic electronic pop music begins to play - music is in the description* It's no secret that entertainment executives  and studios tend to seize up when child stars   go through puberty. Why is this? Because to  the powers that be it means there's a cash  

cow that's potentially on its way out. "And the truth is and you know this you may now be a little too old to be in a home alone movie... unless it's you know home alone with your wife." They don't know if this person they've invested  so heavily in will effectively transition from   child star to adult entertainer. And though  a lot of stars can make that transition, it's   usually ironically without any help from the  studio that made them, and up to the former   child stars or pre-teen entertainers themselves  to break out of the image that made them famous. And depending on the support networks around these  young people and the public's perception of them   that transition from prepubescent teen  to young adult is easier said than done. One of the most famous child actors of the  mid-20th century, Bobby Driscoll, who was one   of the first two actors to be signed by the Walt  Disney company when he was just nine years old   and starred in Song of the South, Treasure  Island and inspired and voiced Peter Pan, was abandoned by the Disney company because at 16  "he no longer had that impish face that kept him   gainfully employed as a youth. He was just another  teen boy with a bad case of acne." And though they  

did try to cover his face in heavy makeup, the  pimples were just too much for Disney to handle. So instead of helping him transition into a teen  and young adult actor they discarded him because a   kid going through the woes of puberty just wasn't  profitable. For other child stars of the early 20th   century like Shirley Temple she was given fake  teeth because any sign of her maturing would   "destroy the illusion," even though giving her  a full set of teeth as a five-year-old kid   kind of does that anyway. However as time went  on child stars appearing more real and relatable   became in vogue. For example Mary-Kate and Ashley  Olsen's lack of teeth in Full House made them   appear 'cute'. And this new trend in hollywood of  wanting child stars to become teen icons and grow   up with their audience on screen I believe started  for a few main reasons. The first being the advent  

of the teen demographic and the embracement  of youth culture beginning in the late 50s and   continuing into the 60s and present day. The second  being the rise of TV as an entertainment medium,   which happens to coincide timeline wise with  my first point. The third reason is of course   profit and brand recognition. If you can hook an  audience at a young age with an equally young star   you have a consumer for life. Suddenly there was  more room for kids to mature into teenagers on tv   because brands and studios realize how  lucrative this part of the population could be.

Not to mention that tv is a far more accessible  and intimate form of entertainment as well as   can host weekly sitcoms and variety shows for  kids and their families at home to grow up with. For example Disney's first mickey mouse club, which  was a variety show presented by kids as well as   teens, came out in 1955, but just two years before  in 1953 the additional two-year contract option   Bobby Driscoll signed with Disney was cancelled  weeks after Peter Pan debuted. It seems as though   Disney's lack of future for Driscoll was not only  due to his acne, but him being typecast as a child   star, and they were afraid or didn't know if he  could break out of that type casting, while also   fitting in with the self-imposed kid-friendly  disney brand, and maybe they just didn't know   if he could make it from film to television. But  instead of keeping him and using him as a draw   for the mickey mouse club and using that as a  vehicle to have him interact with other teen   actors, he was thrown away. And this isn't to say  that media starring teens didn't exist before   the mid 50s and early 60s. Love Finds Andy Hardy  a teen romp with Judy Garland who was 16 at the   time and Mickey Rooney who was 18 came out in  1938, and they were among the most well-known   teen idols of the 1940s. But just that with the  popularization and accessibility of home media  

and with the passage of time teens being teens  and kids becoming teens on tv and in movies   became more acceptable and more lucrative. However, though studios by the 90s and 2000s had found a way   to make adolescence profitable, this didn't mean  that they were accepting of their actors changing   bodies nor was the general adult public very kind  to teens who were growing up in the public eye. "American idol's Paula Abdul battled bulimia for  15 years, actress Jaime Lynn Discala nearly lost   her role on The Sopranos due to eating disorders. If someone's been a natural weight for a long time   and then they become increasingly famous and  increasingly thinner you you have to wonder what   are they having to do." And though this could be  said about every generation of kid and teen icons  

I'm specifically going to be highlighting the  child and teen stars of the 2000s who were on   Disney and Nickelodeon as those were the ones that  I grew up with and who have influenced me the most. And one thing I've noticed looking back  at shows like That's So Raven, Victorious, and   Hannah Montana among others is how the teams  behind the stars and the studios themselves   tried to suppress their teen actors changing  bodies to delay the appearance of puberty in order   to keep them looking younger and thus profitable  for as long as possible. This is mainly done   through body shaming, so they don't start looking  "too adult", by starting them on plastic surgery   while they're still in puberty, and by making sure  their image stays squeaky clean. In this video I will discuss each of those points and how that  warps our perceptions of our own puberty and how   our own puberty is supposed to look like and why  that becomes a problem for the actors themselves   as well as us as viewers. Part two the demonization  of puberty weight gain. Hilary Duff was only 14   and going through puberty when the first season  of Lizzie McGuire debuted on the Disney Channel   in 2001 and some of the most memorable episodes  of the show were about the titular character's   growing pains like when she had to go shopping  with her mom for her first bra. "I want a bra!

Okay? A bra. We want a bra. I want a bra!" Another puberty change besides the appearance of  breasts that a lot of kids tend to go through is   weight gain, which is a normal sign that you're  getting older and that your body is growing   and maturing. And Duff was never fat or even  overweight she was just a regular 14 year old kid.   Maybe she wasn't exactly skinny, but her body was  still forming she was going through puberty and   gaining weight as a natural part of that process  that shouldn't be shame or impeded upon. But of   course she was shamed for her weight throughout  her career and ended up getting an eating disorder.  And at 19 in 2007 said in an interview that  she did feel pressure to lose weight. "'I did get   skinny', she told Britain's Mail on Sunday. 'I felt  the pressure like everyone else in my position. 

When a newspaper comes out and says Duff puff she  must have gained 15 pounds or something like that   how would any normal person react?'" And is it  no surprise then that not only Duff but Raven   Symoné, Demi Lovato and Taylor Swift, all teen  celebrities who went through puberty publicly,   have all talked about their own struggles  with food and restrictive eating?   Gaining weight during puberty and keeping it on  afterwards is a totally normal part of growing up   but because there's no room for that awkward stage  in hollywood both the teen actors and the children   watching at home are shamed for when they go  through something that's again totally normal.   Raven was 18 in 2003 when she starred in the first  season of That's So Raven and though she was already   18, it's important to note that puberty doesn't  really stop until your early 20s, and your brain   isn't fully formed until 25. Your body and mind can  continue to morph and change as you become a young   adult. Raven definitely did break the mold for  disney channel stars at the time in that she was  

bigger and non-white, but that didn't stop her show  from becoming one of the biggest hits on disney   channel. And some of the episodes of the series  even focused on weight gain and eating disorders.  For example the episode "food for thought" which  aired in 2005 shows how an exploitative fast   food chain takes over the cafeteria and Raven and  her friends teach the student body and audience at   home about eating a balanced diet. But of course  being from the early 2000s there's still plenty   of fat jokes and fat shaming as a way to persuade  people to stop eating from the fast food chain. In   the 2004 episode "that's so not raven" Raven wants  to model her own dress and is seemingly accepted   into the fashion and modeling industry, which is a  big deal for her being both Black and plus sized.

But of course when the magazine cover comes out  she's photoshopped to be thin because models can   only have one look. Raven says screw that and rocks  the runway anyway. And in 2003 The Cheetah Girls movie arguably one of the most famous DCOMs  ever debuted with Raven as the lead and with other   girls of different sizes and races and ethnicities  as the co-leads. And even the theme of the movie   touched upon the entertainment industry being  fake and the need to be authentic and stay true   to yourself. And though it seems as though Disney  was taking a stand as a company to say yes bigger   bodies do have a place in the fashion world and  on tv and media in general, it didn't stop Raven   specifically from being fat shamed and needing to  take a break from hollywood after the series ended   in 2007. It should be noted that Disney wasn't the  only studio to pressure Raven into losing weight.   She's been very vocal in that as a child star on  The Cosby Show when she was just seven years old   she was already getting messages to not eat  certain foods which definitely impacted her   relationship with her body and food. Other stars  who gained weight as a part of puberty were Ariana   Grande and Miley Cyrus. And this could be seen  through them growing up on their respective tv  

shows. But then suddenly in the early 2010s they  lost the weight and their rather extreme weight   loss was blamed on them becoming vegan. And I'm not  vegan but I find that explanation to be total bs. "That's my opinion!" I'm not saying that they have an eating disorder  or a negative relationship with food, but what I   am saying is that they're not being fully  transparent about how and why they lost   their gained puberty weight. I don't think we  should force them to come out about anything   or that there is something wrong here, but  just that like I said in my kardashian video   it really irks me when celebrities don't  acknowledge how they both participate in and   benefit from a system that also victimizes them. And before I go on I want to make it clear that   I'm not blaming them or shaming them for losing  weight. I'm well aware it's a very much damned if  

you do damned if you don't situation. There is no  winning. You're either too thin or you're too fat. But I'm not saying that they looked better one  way or another, just that they would probably have   different bodies if we lived in a less fat phobic  society where teens weren't pressured to lose the   weight that comes with growing up. I'm more angry  at the fact that they blame their weight loss and   simply going vegan and exercising more because  I find that highly suspect. I know this was a   long time ago they were in their late teens and  early 20s and they don't need to answer for it now   and I'm sure it's a really sensitive subject for  them. Celebrities aren't immune to fat phobia   not to mention their publicists have a lot of  control over what gets said and what stays quiet   but I still do think that young people and their  teams owe it to their fan bases to be more open   with them about sensitive subjects like weight  loss for example. If it really was just going  

vegan and exercising more make it known that as  a celebrity it's easier for me to lose weight   healthily because I have the resources to make it  happen. This reasoning also ignores a lot of the   anti-fat rhetoric and conditioning were brought up  with that they probably weren't even aware of as   kids that they internalized. And again they don't  need to answer for this now, it was a long time   ago, but it just still really bothers me. It's just  one of my hang-ups but let me know what you think   down below. I also want to add that I think we  should blame the adults who perpetuate fat shaming   in media and entertainment and not the child  and teen celebrities or their young fan bases. Demi Lovato on the other hand has been very open  about how dieting and having an eating disorder   was normalized during their time at disney and  working on their show sonny with a chance. "'I kind  

of looked around and had a moment where I was like  wow this is so terrifyingly normalized', Lovato said   detailing that they used to be given watermelon  with fat-free whipped cream in place of a birthday   cake each year." In addition Taylor Lautner was only  17 when he had to bulk up for his role in new moon   or else. God forbid we expose young people  to what 17 year olds actually look like.  And I think this is what really irks me about  this whole demonization of puberty weight gain   or just weight changes in general during puberty. It makes young people at home see people who are   going through what you're going through gaining  weight looking bigger maturing, but then just nips   that in the bud through fat shaming and in turn  both the audience and the actors tend to have   really bad psychological problems when it comes  to their relationship with food and their bodies.   I wonder a lot of the times as someone who  started having an eating disorder during puberty   what my life and body could and would have been  like if I didn't screw it up at such a crucial   growth moment in my life. I would probably have a  lot less acid reflux and not have wasted my teen  

years consumed by thoughts of what I ate, when I  ate, and how I looked. Being a huge Hannah Montana   fan and seeing Miley grow up on screen and gain  weight during their adolescence really validated   a lot of my own weight gain, but after the show  was over and they debuted their new look and   talked about going vegan and had their new body  celebrated I felt betrayed. I felt the same way   when Ariana Grande looked totally different and  victorious after she dropped 25 pounds when she   was just gaining regular puberty weight. And I know  now that I shouldn't base my self-worth on what  

celebrities look like but i was 14 and Disney and  Nick marketing really worked on me and I had real   parasocial relationships with these people. And it  shouldn't be surprising nor shocking that a lot of   young kids look up to these people and buy into  their lifestyles because that's kind of the goal   of these products in the first place. And in turn  because I saw that gaining weight during puberty   is something abnormal and something that should  be lost I had 15 years old started to diet and   restrict my food intake and developed really bad  eating habits and a really negative relationship   with food and my body image. That's the power that  these adult curated images have on kids watching  

and on the teen performers and I don't think that  should go overlooked. Part three the normalization   of hiding plastic surgery. One thing I and I think  a lot of other people are tired of hearing is   that "they didn't get plastic surgery they just  went through puberty." Blaming facial changes on   puberty when you actually went under the knife  is so tiresome because again it adds to this   lack of transparency, like when those celebrities  say they just went vegan and dropped x amount of   weight like that. I know not everyone agrees with  Lorry Hill, but like I said in my Kardashian video  

I do like her videos because they do demystify  celebrity perfection and take power away from   them. In her videos about Ariana Grande and Miley  Cyrus she notes how they both got plastic   surgery during puberty and it was done in smaller  segments and not all at once. Because of their age   there really is no rush and because again they're  still going through puberty doing a little at a   time and seeing where features settle into place  later makes more sense than doing huge procedures.   Not to mention operations like rhinoplasties  usually need to be done more than once to get the   desired size and then shape of one's nose. Hill  notes that Cyrus particularly looks as though  

they have been doing botox since their late teens  and early 20s as they have very little to no lines   or wrinkles and that if you start botox young  you'll need less of it in the future. Hill also   says that Cyrus probably had back braces put on  their teeth in order to hide their braces from   view as they were growing up on camera and how  painful those probably were for them and honestly   if they ever own up to that later on I think a lot  of people would respect them for it because that   sounds awful. Another benefit of getting plastic  surgery as a young celebrity is that you can blame   it on puberty and not have to own up to getting  procedures done because the changes happen so   slowly they're almost undetectable. The earlier you  get plastic surgery the easier it is to hide it.   Both Cyrus and Grande have never owned up to  getting any plastic surgery and the most Kylie   Jenner has owned up to is getting lip fillers. I  just don't understand the lack of transparency   when it comes to celebrities because at this  point plastic surgery is an open secret and   I don't think that there's as much shame around  going under the knife as there used to be. I think   we all understand the pressures of societal  expectations, but then again there are still   very vicious people out there who will exploit  celebrities getting plastic surgery as scandals   and unfortunately that has never really gone away and it's probably scarred the celebrity community   forever. But I will say again that when celebrities  are more transparent about the work they've done  

I respect them for it and I think most  people would just breathe a sigh of relief   to know that we don't need to keep up this  ridiculous charade anymore. Part four purity   culture and exploitation. Puberty doesn't just come  with physical changes to your body it also comes   with emotional changes. There's this feeling  when you're a teen that you want to have more   independence be taken more seriously and do more  adult things especially if the adults around you   are telling you to grow up and be more mature and  to start acting your age, especially if you already   have a high paying job like being an entertainer  where you might be supporting your entire family.

There's this weird expectation that teens face  which is that you're an adult when it's convenient   for the adults around you and a kid when again, it's convenient for the adults around you. Some   teenagers use this time to experiment with more  adult things in order to feel more adult and use   their newfound freedom. This can mean experimenting  with substances or more risky behaviors and of   course sex. However this element of puberty doesn't  really jive with the Disney brand if you're a teen   star. Disney has embraced this branding of family  entertainment and wholesome traditional values   aka their conservative company and their employees  must also tout those beliefs. The Jones Brothers,  Miley Cyrus, and Selena Gomez all wore purity  rings, and keep in mind this was after the whole   "is Britney still a virgin?" exploitation so this was  a strategic move for Disney to put their foot down   and say our stars are clean and definitely  saving themselves till marriage so don't   ask. But ironically this just made everyone even  more curious. Of course nowadays we all know it  

was a big publicity stunt and that no one really  wanted to wear them to begin with. With the Jonas   Brothers it was a bit different because their  father was a pastor and they did come from a   pretty religious background, but they're very clear  nowadays that even back then that wasn't what they   were about even though they were being heralded  as like these abstinence heroes at least to   some people. Rather than teaching young teens that  experimenting with sex when you're a teen is part   of some people's adolescent journeys and this is  how you can practice it safely, it was ignored and   frowned upon and I'd even go as far ahead to say  it was shamed. And even making these purity vows   and wearing these rings got them made fun of and  later made them resent the disney brand even more.  My favorite comment to come out of this is  Miley's when they said in 2019, "I wanted to   stop being Hannah Montana once I was 18 because  it felt ridiculous. The minute I had sex I was   kind of like I can't put the effing wig on again.   It got weird. It just felt like I was grown up."

And honestly the disney stars talking about  how they're waiting for marriage kind of led to   them being even more sexualized in the media.  Joe talked about how some people thought   they were in a sex cult. At Nick studios on the  other hand due to one producer and writer who   kind of ran the studio back in the day they had  their teen employees really lean into oddly sexual   and fetishistic scenarios. It was just really  disturbing to say the least. In the end hollywood   capitalism essentializes every part of their young  star's lives from their bodies to their personas   because under such an economic system even sex is  perverted and is used as a selling point for kids   entertainment, no matter if it's under the guise  of crude and inappropriate humor or purity culture.   Part 5 the lack of appropriate pre-teen media. There's this weird thing of not wanting your teen   actor to grow up too fast, but also when it is time  for them to grow up to skip puberty altogether and   you do that by restricting what they eat, changing  their face, and restricting their bodily autonomy.  

And this leads to as many video essayists have  pointed out, the death of the tween and tween media.   There is no more awkward stage. And I do think  that there is a severe lack of good tween media   or at least was when I was a tween. You'd think  that shows on channels like Disney and Nick back   in the day would have had shows to help reflect  adolescence, and in a lot of ways there were some   that do that or that did that, but in a lot of  other ways tween entertainment back then was   extremely childish and tended to talk down to kids  rather than help them realistically deal with what   life has to offer them. And creating good tween  media is especially difficult when the studios  

themselves don't even respect or trust the young  people in their employment and care. I feel like   before we can have good tween media that lets kids  gain puberty, weight embrace their natural features,   and lets them experiment with their bodies and  identities, we need to handle society's issues   with teenagers and with how we see growing up  in puberty as a whole because it's not something   that's shameful or gross or better left untouched.  It's something totally normal that capable adults   can help you get through. I think with the advent  of streaming it has opened the door to more like  

teen and tween friendly programming like Mindy  Kaling's Never Have I Ever or the film series   To All the Boys I Loved Before, the Anne with an E series, and even the Babysitter's Club reboot and   of course Pixar's Luca and Turning Red. So there is  hope for better representation and understanding   and where kids and their issues aren't talked down  to. I'm glad celebrities are opening up about their   eating disorders and the effect the entertainment  industry had on them as kids because I think it'll   help other young entertainers and also young  viewers know that not everything they see on the   screen is as perfect as it appears and that that's  okay. As one teen icon once said nobody's perfect. "Nobody's perfect" So that's it for this video thank you so much  for watching and I'll see you in the next one  bye! "This is the age of the teenager." *jazzy piano music plays in the background - music is in the description* *record scratch*

2022-08-04 17:47

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