Help the “needy.”

Whoever invented the term “inner beauty” should be hunted down, bound with used Slinkies, towed to the nearest cul de sac and beaten with large sticks.

I know full well that by shouting from the rooftops that I’m a Dr. Phil fan will strongly effect my creditability in this posting. Some view this dude as a complete sell out, phony bologna with clinical advice as accurate as his painted-on smile. To a small degree, I agree. Anything on the boob tube needs a little make-up to remove the shine. But, in the big picture, I think Dr. Phil is a decent person who wants to do right, and puts things in the spotlight so that they can, at the very least, get attention. The dude makes a bundle doing so, granted…but I don’t think that deserves character lynching. That’s just being guilty of wanting to earn a really good living. Some of us would kill for some of that right now…so I won’t begrudge him.

Today he was talking about the “sexualization” of teens and how media is totally influencing those who do not have role models at home. I find this topic AMAZINGLY interesting. As a high school teacher in an upper-class, private high school I deal with student entitlement issues, social out casting and an overflow of arrogance as thick as the wallets they are used to receiving handouts from. It’s an uphill battle in some cases. But, you can’t get upset over things that ultimately aren’t within your control. These students are used to a certain way of life…and cannot be faulted for NOT thinking otherwise. They don’t know an “otherwise.”

I watched a promo for the upcoming Gossip Girl episode. (A show I admit I’ve never seen.) It showed a young man and women in bed…in a steamy, kiss-filled embrace followed by a discussion about how the girl might have accidentally married the boy’s best friend…and was he jealous??? Then it showed that they were in high school. They look 25!!

It’s farce. It’s all farce. It’s unrealistic to think of little Mary in my High School Drama class in a black thong (Why black? Well…I saw it on the commercial) in a steamy embrace…and talking about accidentally marrying someone because she replied “si” instead of  “I do” in a drunken stupor. It’s downright unimaginable.

I think it’s likewise unimaginable to think that ANY of my students are sexually active. But…and I’m impressing my “I suppose” theory here….I’m sure that’s not the case either. I bet there is a LOT I don’t know. To be blissfully naive sure seems nice on the onset, but when I look in the eyes of these kids who I have the pleasure of teaching everyday…do you want to know what I see? I see someone who has a fundamental void in their life that needs to be filled. Something is missing, and these impressionable hopefuls are filling these voids with what they KNOW. AKA: Gossip girl poo-poo.

I watch as they distribute off-hand insults on a daily basis. There are plenty of rolling eyes. Even their lingo. I’ve even used the word “creeper” in class. But, in a year that word will most likely follow suit to many other words of yesteryear (aka: “snap,” “Gangsta,” and “word”) and find a backseat to the next big trend. It’s a living, breathing, evolving mess of “whatever happens to stick to the wall at that particular moment.”

What they say…what they do…certainly what they wear…and how they “act” (in class, with friends, in social situation, and in gaining acceptance from members of the opposite sex) are all a part of this whirlwind of commitment that these “needy” students cling to. It’s what gets them through Anatomy class and any thing else that’s more than a mere speed bump in their day.

As a drama teacher, I have the great fortune of providing an outlet to students who are “needy.” Performance offers an opportunity to do something fun, in front of an audience, with the support of the ensemble that is usually followed by praise from the adult supervisor. Subconsciously isn’t that what every kid wants?

I watched as the parents of this 14-year old on Dr. Phil sat in a short skirt and tall boots, slathered in make-up as Dr. Phil and mommy argued about her rolling her skirt down to show her thong. Mommy retorted, “Well, it’s not her thong that she rolls..it’s her skirt and that’s what I have a problem with.”

I’m sitting there going….“how about NOT letting your 14 year old wear a thong.” Maybe I’m old fashioned. Maybe I’m conservative. But, I know I’m not crazy. I’m a full-grown man with eyes and ears in the public like everyone else. Everybody has innocent crushes with a make-shift celebrities. The media demands it. (And don’t say you DON’T. Do I even have to go there, you Twilight fans!!??)

But, must we surpass reason in order to supply evidence that we’re all “in tune” with what society throws at us? Have we forgotten our moral and personal, family standards…or are we just sitting on them because it’s easier than cooking a family meal and sitting down together to talk about how the day went?

Another thing…I’m NOT a parent, so one could make the argument that I have no basis for comparison…but, it seems to me that mommy dearest on the Dr. Phil show has her priorities completely out of whack! This is a young lady that is desperately seeking something…anything. And you’re arguing about her thong. Honestly. Mommy is complaining about how hot the sun is on Earth and she’s standing on Pluto! The big picture concern is that mommy is not in touch with her daughter.

What I think we all need is an outlet.  Something that takes us away from what is “expected” of us and allows us to do something for us instead. People have hobbies, have guilty secrets…but, until we can find a way to channel these “needs” that are suppressing what is truly deep down inside of us…instead of letting them control us like a robot to suit the demands of a PLASTIC society…then we will fill these voids our students with empty hopes and invisible promises.

With that said…I think parents need to be huge participants…no, no…ADVOCATES in helping to find and encourage these outlets.

Every night this last two weeks I’ve been putting make-up on in preparation for the onstage role I’m playing in Thoroughly Modern Millie. Tonight a young stage hand asked me with a roll of the eyes, “how long does it take you to do that usually.” I answered about a half hour. She couldn’t believe it. It’s hard work making every line…ever contour and feature fit the mold I’m trying to create so that I might offer an effective character. For the theatre…that’s time spent in preparation for a show. I argue, in life…it’s now different. Whether it’s make-up or self education, manipulation or transformation…that preparation time is something parents desperately need to be a part of.

People use the term inner beauty as a means by which to avoid what is being displayed outside. It’s totally misused. We all have the opportunity to be beautiful. Inner…outer…no matter what you want to label it…it’s all you. And just like the lingering MySpace photo of you holding a beer in a drunken frat party…what you put out there for the world to see…you can’t take it back! This “you” is the only one you get. You get ONE SHOT at life…make it beautiful.

Parents…they need your help. How else are they going to perfect those contours and features?

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One Response to “Help the “needy.””

  1. More power to the thong wearers! This article by journalist Mary Spicuzza (“Panty Ranting”) describes some high school girls who took the bull by the horns so they could wear things to school. Check it out:

    http://www.metroactive.com/papers/metro/12.14.00/dresscode-0050.html

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