by Sian Latham
To my shame, and secret delight, I enjoy watching those meant-for-kids-but-teenage-girls-love-them kind of films. The good old Disney ones with awful story lines, catchy musical numbers and these perfect teenagers. In fact, I was watching an old favourite of mine the other day and it suddenly hit me. That girl, the one who is meant to be 16, is clearly mid twenties! So, I did what any person would do. I used this as an excuse to watch more of these films. Procrastinating as only a student knows how, only to realise that all these years, every movie, every character, every same old romantic-vomit storyline has lied to me! The actors haven’t seen puberty, or the like, for nearly half of their life. Okay, that math is a little off, but you get the idea.
Take the image above for example. Starting from the left (and excluding the animated dog, of course) the actors ages are 27, 23, 24 and 27. Particularly the male actors, the age gap between the age of their characters and the age of the actors is more than 10 years: they are meant to be 16 in this franchise. The females, though a smaller gap, is still a wide margin from a mid puberty teenage girl.
Here’s another example. The cast of the recent release ‘ The Duff’ a teenage romance comedy, focused on the daily horrors of an American high school (it's actually quite funny). In this image we have the ages, starting from the left, 17, 27, 27, 21 and 25. Now Bella Thorne (the 17 year old) does buck the trend of lies in this movie, but the others once again have been adults for a long time. My issue isn’t that the movie industry is lying to me. If that was the case I’d have to be a cause for concern, I mean Batman clearly lives in Tokyo… not Gotham.
No, my issue with the use of 20 year olds (and up) as teenagers is the false portrayal of the teenage body. I, myself, am small for a person, be it male or female. Luckily, being female, I just have to put up with being called cute all the time. But why does my height make me cute? What if you’re all just mutant giants? Well, at times, I have looked at my height and my lack of ability to grow long hair and gone, why don’t I look how a teenager is supposed to look by this age? Why aren’t my boobs decent and my fashion sense amazing? And for guys, the developed muscles on these guys, the acne free skin? Well, because all those supposed teenagers I saw as a kid, the ones with flowing locks and killer heels were not only polished by a team of skilled magicians, but also, they aren’t even teenagers. They are adults, and that is why they don’t look like teenagers.
I’m going to keep bopping along to the songs, and admitting that my love of these movies is childish. Yet, I now embrace the reality that this is me, this is real and it’s exactly where I’m supposed to be now. Just got to let the light shine on me.
P.S. If you didn’t get the reference, I’m afraid your childhood was missing out ;)