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This commentary originally aired on WAMU, American University Radio in Washington, D.C.
By Camille Moore, Latin American Youth Center (LAYC)
Let’s face it fellow teenagers, all of those juicy blogs, magazines and TV shows we love know exactly how we think. They fill their pages and screens with fashion tips, workout plans and romantic advice:vital information for a 15-year-old girl whose hormones are raging. But they don’t always use this knowledge for good.
With all the media I’m exposed to, I’m often left to wonder, "Are my clothes cute enough?,” “Is my body thin enough?” and “When should I experience the big "S-E-X" to fit in with the crowd?”
The way teen-targeted magazines answer that last question can be particularly problematic. Do I really need an article entitled “How to get the sexiest guy in school with just 3 easy steps?" or what about a recent Glamour magazine cover, which promised to teach readers how to give a guy, “The best sex he’s ever had?”
It seems like the media has thrown the old just-be-yourself philosophy out the window. It falls to parents to teach those kinds of lessons. But parents are often too scared of teenage sex to have an honest conversation about it.
I remember when my mom found my brother's sex magazines. She went into hysterics. Then she sat him down and told him, “Son, if you engage in sexual activities, you might catch something from one of these fast little girls and your ‘you know what’ might fall off.”
No curious teen wants to be lectured by his parents on how sex is a terrible thing to do at a young age and how it would be ten times better if he waited until marriage. Most teenagers won’t buy that argument.
If the media can find the keys to the teen psyche, parents can too. They can start by getting tips from the same magazines we do.
Alright, it is hilarious to imagine mom and dad sipping coffee and opening an issue of Seventeen magazine instead of the morning newspaper, but now when I’m done reading an issue of my favorite magazine, I give it to my mom. It’s opened our relationship.
Now instead of her running into my room to ask “Why did I just see the words ‘birth control’ pop up on Google’s history?,” she approaches me with “Have you seen this article about the new birth control pill?”
In other words, the “Talk” isn’t a lecture anymore, but an actual conversation.
These commentaries by D.C. area teens are part of a collaboration between WAMU's Youth Voices program, Youth Radio and the Latin American Youth Center.