Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Not So Sure About the Term Tween

I've been thinking about the term Tween lately. It defines the ages between 9 and 12; that time period between being a child and a teenager.

It's a weird age to be when you don't really feel like a kid anymore, but you're not yet a teen. It is sort of like being twenty—when you are no longer a teenager, but don't feel like an adult either.

I personally truly disliked middle school. I didn't get it why all the girls were so dramatic about everything and why everyone suddenly separated into groups. I wanted to be friends with everyone. So, I totally understand why this term caught on and describes accurately that "in between" stage.

But, I just wonder if it is doing it's own little damage. The fashion and toy industry is specifically marketing aggressively to the "tweens." The problem is that they are not always marketing things appropriate for kids in that age group. For example, Abercrombie and Fitch recently came up with a line of padded, push up bikini tops for tween girls. Actually, they were made for girls as young as seven. That makes me a little sick to my stomach. Fortunately, they came under heavy criticism and pulled the line, now making it only for girls 12 and older. Still too young, right?  What must girls think about themselves at this age if the marketing machine is telling them this is what they need?

I wonder if calling kids tweens is making those 9 to 12 year olds feel even more like they can't just be kids. Maybe it's making them grow up just a little bit faster. And maybe it is giving the marketing machine a feeling that they are not actually marketing to kids. Personally, I'm not going to use the term anymore.

I think the terms kid or child work just fine!


Tina Hollenbeck said...

I really dislike that term and refuse to use it. My daughters are almost 9 and almost 10 - so I guess I am now squarely in that "in between" age group with them...but the thing is that I don't think they need to be told they are too old to play with the toys they still enjoy. And they certainly don't need to be told about padded bras (honestly, no woman needs to think she has to wear those!). So, no, we are not going to do the "tween" thing here. My girls are my girls...and after they turn 13, yes, they'll be teenagers...but that won't give them "permission" to act like the stereotype of that either.

Farmgirl Paints said...

My big chick is a tween...middle school starts this fall. pray for me. i feel the need for a paper bag all of a sudden!

Foursons said...

I had no idea about those bikinis. Thank goodness for boys! Jakob has entered these years and is driving me nuts. How will we ever survive?

Toyin O. said...

It must be tough being a parent to teenage girls this day and age:)

Donna's Daze said...

It is a tricky age. Girls who were the best of friends suddenly become bitter (and bullying) enemies. The clothing and music industries sexualize their developing bodies.

I don't mind the term 'tween' since they truly are in between a child and a teen. I just think we ought to rethink exactly what we want that time period to represent.