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Scarleteen Confidential: In Defense of Teen Media

This is part of our series for parents or guardians. To find out more about the series, click here. For our top five guiding principles for parents or guardians click here; for a list of resources, click here. To see all posts in the series, click the Scarleteen Confidential tag above, or follow the series on Tumblr at

For two years, I worked in a bookstore that was aimed primarily at children and teenagers. It was a job I quite enjoyed, but I quickly discovered that when you work near books, people always want to tell you their opinions on said books. That's fine most of the time. But I noticed a pattern when parents or adults would refer to The Hunger Games series. They would express dismay over a child wanting to read the book, wondering what they saw in it, and either implicitly or explicitly stating that they thought the book was not good for youth to be reading. I would usually give a neutral response about how yes, the book is dark (for t


Scarleteen Confidential: Teens and Body Image

This is part of our series for parents or guardians. To find out more about the series, click here. For our top five guiding principles for parents or guardians click here; for a list of resources, click here. To see all posts in the series, click the Scarleteen Confidential tag above, or follow the series on Tumblr at

Our societies are chock full of norms and ideals of beauty, and we all run up against them eventually. These norms and expectations often have a hand in shaping how we feel about our own bodies. When you're a teen and trying to sort out how to feel comfortable in your changing body, these messages can be very potent indeed. Sadly, what is defined as desirable, fit, or beautiful is often based on a very narrow ideal of the human body, rather than on the diverse and wonderful reality of human appearance.

Adolescence involves dramatic changes to your appearance (boobs! hair in new places! acne in places you didn't even know you had!)


Letters to My-Body-Of-Yesteryear and to Yours-of-Right-Now

I saw a young woman the other day who was in her late teens.

I had a moment of admiring how strong her legs looked, how able her shoulders; where she had curves and where she didn't, how kind of mixed-up and funky some of her coloring and parts were, a study in contrasts. It was a moment of appreciating what, in my eyes and perspective, her beauty was and how aesthetically beautiful I found her. As someone who's worked in art and photography, who looks at people and their details deeply and richly out of habit, I didn't think anything of it until I realized something about her was really resonating in a big way with me. I was having a hard time looking away.

Then it struck me: the things I was admiring about her and taking in so much of? Those were all ways my own body looked at her same age. It was like looking in a mirror that traveled through time.

But when I was her age, and my body and its parts looked like hers, I didn't appreciate them this way; I didn't find them so interestin


Hair Trouble

Jessica68 asks:

I'm 15. Okay, so I do swimming squad, and sometimes it's embarrassing wearing bathers, cause of pubic hair. I don't know how to get rid of it. Like once I was at my friends house, and she is obsessed with sex, so she watches porn, and I saw some too, and the women have no pubic hair whatsoever! And I get really bothered about that. I mean, what if I'm going to have sex with a guy, and he's like "Eww, you're all hairy. That is disgusting?" I'm really scared about that. If you can help, it would be great! Thanks!

Wild and Untamed Things: Why a Cult Classic Still Resonates After All These Years

Scarleteen volunteer Sam reflects on the significance of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and how it relates to sexuality, identity, and her middle school experience.

Decoding Sex in the Media: How Lily Allen's "Hard Out Here" (Sadly) Missed the Mark

I really wanted to love Lily Allen’s new song and video, “Hard Out Here."

The British artist, who took time off to start a family, has recently burst back into the music scene with a punchy, sarcastic pop song that slams the widespread objectification and harsh criticism of women’s bodies in so much of modern media. Far sharper than Beyonce’s generic brand of girls rule!, “Hard Out Here” addresses specific feminist issues with acuity and wit.

She discusses the double standard surrounding women’s sexuality (“If I told you about my sex life, you'd call me a slut/when boys be talking about their bitches, no one's making a fuss”), the unrealistic beauty standard for women (“You should probably lose some weight/'cause we can't see your bones/you should probably fix your face or you'll end up on your own”), and even makes a jab or two at Robin Thicke’s rape-y hit song with the sarcastic lyrics like, “Have you thought about your butt? Who's gonna tear it in two?”

It’s about time for an empow


Decoding Sex in the Media: Why the Media Should Leave Kate Middleton's Baby Bump (And Everyone Else's) Alone

On Monday, July 22nd, England’s beloved Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, gave birth to a son—Prince George Alexander Louis. This child, dubbed the “Royal Baby” by news sources across the globe, garnered an enormous amount of media attention and sparked world-wide conversations. Reporters—and a few independent enthusiasts—have already traced the monarchial origins of the name. Jo Frost, widely known as the “Supernanny” from her reality TV show, publically offered the royal parents her child-rearing advice. A small, vociferous internet group has argued that the Duke and Duchess shouldn’t assign their child a gender, but wait until s/he chooses a gender for him/herself.

But throughout this newsworthy affair, the public spotlight has not strayed from Kate: in fact, media scrutiny of the new mother has intensified.

Before she had even left the hospital, the United Kingdom’s edition of OK! magazine published a “Royal Baby Special,” which included bright, punchy headlines promoting “Kat


Decoding Sex in the Media: There are No Blurred Lines When it Comes to Consent

For many young people, Robin Thicke’s hit single "Blurred Lines" has become the anthem of the summer. Recently topping the Billboard Hot 100 list and rising to the position of most-downloaded song on iTunes, “Blurred Lines” seems to be thumping out of every stereo speaker on the planet. And for good reason -- it’s a very catchy song, with a strong beat and ostensibly fun lyrics. It also comes along with a controversial video full of naked women, which has no doubt amped up its notoriety. Like many artists before him, Thicke sings about a complex topic -- sex -- but he makes the mistake of ignoring a crucial underlying issue: consent.

Throughout the song, Thicke addresses a woman he perceives as a potential sex partner, continuously making assumptions about her sexual intentions. He sings that he’s “gon’ take [have sex with]” her, repeatedly insisting, “I know you want it”. (He also calls said woman a bitch, an animal, and refers to himself as pimping.)

In the middle of the chorus, Th


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