Teenage portrayal in the media

By: Annika Getz

A lot of times, when a TV show or movie has a teenage character, the character is played by an adult. This may seem harmless and unimportant, but a lot of teens, including me, actually find it to be very harmful for teenagers to be portrayed this way.

I can understand why producers do this, both from a marketing standpoint, and a practical one. Younger actors have more regulations for when they can work, and the work environment they’re in, and adult actors also often look better on-screen: less acne, less voice cracks, etc.

However, when these companies make the easy choices regarding their actors, they don’t think about the effect it will have on teenage viewers. When we see these actors, looking completely perfect, and not at all the way we look, it makes us set unfair standards for ourselves.

We start to think that that’s how we’re supposed to look, when really, these actors have already gone through the awkward stage we’re currently in, and many of them have had some sort of plastic surgery.

However, this is just one person’s opinion, so I thought I’d interview several of my friends (all Freshmen), to see if anyone felt the way I did. I found that many people do. I won’t be using their names, to ensure their privacy, but here’s what they had to say:

“When teens are inaccurately portrayed in the media, it often makes me feel like I am doing something wrong with how I dress, how I act, how I look, etc.”

“Media tends to portray High Schoolers with actors who fall in line with Western beauty standards. This is extremely harmful to self esteem, as those who don’t fit those standards, are rarely portrayed, or are seen as side characters.”

“It bothers me when teens are played by adults, whose bodies are often way more matured. I feel like this sets a standard that’s impossible to meet for many people.”

I think it’s very clear that when the media portrays teenagers as these beautiful, flawless, people, it not only inaccurately portrays what teenagers actually look like, but is harmful for any teens or children watching.


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One thought on “Teenage portrayal in the media”

  1. Interesting points made. It didn’t occur to me how harmful it could be to teenagers’ self-esteem to see adult actors, portraying teens. As if they don’t have enough to contend with! I also hadn’t thought about the labor laws that influence adult actors being cast.

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