At some point in time I'll make an update on the past two months but not today. Today I want to talk about teeny bopper books. The ones I started picking up in 5th grade and have not yet grown out of. I just finished reading an article in The Atlantic Online about young adult-girls fiction that just blew my mind. The article questions what draws girls into story lines like the one in Stephanie Meyer's Twilight series and how that relates to the lives teenage girls live today.
Girls and women alike battle magazine covers and find advice on sex, romance, makeup fashion, and love from women whose lips, hips, eyes, and skin have been perfected by the magic wand of Photoshop. Mixed messages bombard us and adulthood is forced at younger ages every year through a combination of hormone enhanced foods and cosmetically enhanced dolls.
So how to girls cope? Some build up their circles of companions, some brood in their bedrooms, some wear all black and some explore sexuality. Looking back at my teenage years, and the blog posts from then are painful to reminisce upon, I think I had a combination of all of the above, minus wearing all black.
Twilight offers a version of romance that I believe is timeless. From Mr. Darcy and Jane Bennett to Bella and Edward we all want to believe in a brand of love that is full of passion yet pure at heart.
‘One of the signal differences between adolescent girls and boys is that while a boy quickly puts away childish things in his race to initiate a sexual life for himself, a girl will continue to cherish, almost to fetishize, the tokens of her little-girlhood. She wants to be both places at once—in the safety of girl land, with the pandas and jump ropes, and in the arms of a lover, whose sole desire is to take her completely. And most of all, as girls work all of this out with considerable anguish, they want to be in their rooms, with the doors closed and the declarations posted. The biggest problem for parents of teenage girls is that they never know who is going to come barreling out of that sacred space: the adorable little girl who wants to cuddle, or the hard-eyed young woman who has left it all behind. ‘
What Flanagan doesn’t answer in her column is when does that stop, or, if it ever does. What difference is it from being a teenager with childhood toys to being a twenty something with high school snapshots in a frame, or a forty something with her favorite music from her twenties on CD/eight track/record? I don’t think there is one.
Not everyone needs that emotional soft world that lives in Twilight, or Gossip Girl, or ‘insert bopper book of choice,’ but we all need something, and at the end of the day, that’s what makes us real.