April 27, 2009

Tweens: A Study

First of all, I want to give a shout-out to everyone out there who sent positive words and voted for me over at Sego Lily Day Spa where they are searching for their official blogger. I was stunned and completely humbled at the outpouring of support from all of you! I tried to personally thank as many of you as I could, but for some reason, the spa’s site wouldn’t reveal all the posted comments. If I missed you, it is not by design, it’s because I was unable to see the complete comment archives on Sego Lily’s site. Thank you!!

Now, today I’m posting, albeit a little late, as part of the Beautiful Like Me series hosted at one of my favorite sites, The Life and Times of a Wicked Stepmom. The current topic up for debate is: What do today’s children and teens feel pressured to imitate? Why?

Now, if you want to read an honest, soulful search into this topic, be sure and visit Wicked Stepmom's post or the series co-developers, Shout! Daily (Hi, Tricia!) and Five Flower Mom. If you want to read a totally biased account of my observations of frenzied tweens at a Zac Efron movie premier two weeks ago, well then, you’ve come to the right place.

Appearance of a Tween Girl:
It’s a forgone conclusion that most tween girls pride themselves on their appearance. They are highly groomed and will go to extreme lengths to gain the approval of their peers through choice of hairstyle and/or clothing. However, it seems critical in tween girl culture that they appear uninterested, almost aloof in gaining said favor with their peers.

I know this to be true because I witnessed one tween girl (Girl 1) in the rest room wearing a Miley Cyrus “I Rock This Joint” tee parked in front of the mirror fussing with her hair -- putting it in a ponytail, taking it down and then back up in an even higher ponytail. Moments later, I found myself, once again, standing next to Girl 1 in the concession line. Her friend, Girl 2, who looked identical to Girl 1, same shirt, same hair, same leggings, commented on how awesome Girl 1’s hair looked in a ponytail to which Girl 1 replied, “Whatever, I just totally rolled out of bed with it this way.” Well played, Girl 1. Or well played, Girl 2. Actually, I wasn’t really sure because at this point Girl 3 joined the group and she looked just like the other two.

Social Habits of a Tween Girl:
As I hinted at earlier, it is no mistake that tween girls traveling together look exactly alike. It has been long believed that tweens’ similarities were the calculated result of clever marketing campaigns devised in concert by clothing labels, MTV and the Disney Corporation. However, recent studies have shown that tweens, both male and female, use these similarities as a defense mechanism to ward off well-meaning individuals over the age of 30 from approaching them in a public setting.

These groups of tweens, specifically tween girls, are commonly referred to as “clans”. They are easily identifiable by their highly groomed hair, low-waist jeans and their incessant chatter accompanied by flailing hand movements. (It is almost impossible for a tween girl to speak without using her hands or prefacing a sentence with, “Oh my gosh!”).

Come to think of it, it’s nearly impossible for me to communicate without doing those things too.

If you come upon a tween clan, it is best to step aside and let the group pass you. I noted at the movie theater, each clan has it’s own speed and whether it moved at a snails pace or tore through the theater halls faster than Tara Reid’s career, whatever you do, don’t get mixed up in this living breathing, heavily accessorized organism. Girls at this age are drawn to shiny objects and will be wearing loads of metal or bedazzled jewelry. It only takes one rookie move and next thing you know, you find yourself smack in the middle of a clan where getting an accidental shanking from a dangly earring is considered getting off easy.

I made the mistake of infiltrating a clan, splitting them right up the middle, as I lunged for the butter dispenser at the snack bar. No skinny 7th grader is going to keep me and the liquid butter apart. Can I get a witness? Long story short, the whole ordeal was so traumatic for me that all I remember is the horrified looks on those young girl’s faces, the shrieking (on my part) and the sudden urge to get myself to the nearest Hot Topic, stat.

Unless you are somehow related to a tween girl, it will only be on the rarest of occasions that you find yourself alone with a tween girl who has become separated from her clan. Don’t panic. A tween girl removed from other tweens is relatively harmless and should not be considered hostile. However, since tweens find comfort in numbers, should you approach her, do so with extreme caution. Without her clan, she will most likely be jumpy and easily startled. You’re more likely to elicit a response from her if you drop the following key phrases into your conversation:

“Isn’t Edward dreamy?”
“Are you on Facebook?”
“Do you want to go to the mall later?”

Warning: Only use these phrases if you are a female trying to start up a conversation with a tween GIRL. I cannot stress this enough, ANY OTHER COMBINATION, (i.e. adult male to tween boy, adult male to tween girl, adult female to tween boy) IS CREEPY AND SHOULD BE AVOIDED AT ALL COSTS.

Language of a Tween Girl:
Tween girl speak is a complex and can range from a series of high-pitched squeals to muffled whispers and giggles. Often times, tween girls prefer to talk at the exact same time to each other in a rapid-fire tempo. You may not understand what they’re talking about, but make no mistake, they do. If you listen closely, however, you can extract key words or phrases such as, “Nick Jonas” or “Zac Efron” or “weird lady with curly hair eavesdropping on us”.

If you’re lucky enough to have pulled out one or more of these words, what ever you do, DO NOT attempt to use these in a conversation with the tween. These tweens are professionals. They will only see you as an uncool adult, or again, “a weird lady with curly hair eavesdropping on us”. If you are over 30, you most likely won’t know how to use these terms correctly no matter how many episodes of iCarly you’ve watched. Trust me, one of two things will happen if you attempt to make verbal contact at tween-speak pace before you are ready; 1) You’ll use the term incorrectly, or 2 ) You will sprain your tongue. Either way, you will fail miserably in the tween girls’ eyes.

Not that I would know or anything. Pft.

42 comments:

Rebekah said...

Tweens? Ha! When Henry turns 5... (Is he 5? He's not, right?) Ahem. Just wait, that's all I can say.

My son. My five-year-old, tall and tufty-haired though he is, blends immediately in with his peers to become an indestinguishable, sand-covered, logos-and-croc-wearing 5-year-old-Troup-member. It's like Clockwork Orange. The minute they get near each other, the eye-rolling, "whatEver" muttering begins. "Lazer-light-beam-blah-blah-kapow-shazam!" and identical breathless giggles and secret signals and code words. Totally droogy.

At FIVE. OF COURSE tweens are masters of muttering, twitchy flock behavior - they've been perfecting it for half their lives!

(and...great post! May the best - you - blogger win the spa day, er, blog)

HeatherPride said...

All of it: true. Those tween girls are intimidating. They'll pull out your heart and eat it right in front of you if you give them half a chance.

Or maybe that was just the bad guy in the Temple of Doom? Either way, best to keep your distance.

Middle Aged Woman Blogging said...

The only time I was ever hip was when I had a tweener. However, I wasn't hip according to her, but I stole all her language skills.

GreenJello said...

Tweens. I have some of those in the house. I am the Ultimate Example of Uncoolness to them. Well, and to be honest, to my other fully-fledged teen daughters as well.

I have a permanently sprained tongue.

Sprite's Keeper said...

True story: I walked into a Spencer Gifts looking for a Cletus doll as a gag gift. They didn't have it, but the girl looked at me as if I had come from a different planet. Judging by the color of her hair, I might as well have. (You know, reading that last sentence, something just looks off about it. I know it's grammatically correct, but it's bugging me. Any English teachers in the comments section?)

Ms. Salti said...

I am laughing my ass off. But what else is new?!

Melanie D said...

My daughter will be a tween soon, and that scares the hell out of me. I already get "Whatever" and that drives me nuts, Hanna Montana has invaded our house as well, mind you I shouldn't complain because I am sure I have seen nothing yet........sigh

Susan said...

I hate tweens. And damn, I've got two soon-to-be tweens already making headway. Please just let me survive.

Miss Grace said...

So I tried to love you at the spa site, but for some reason I could not. The intention though. That was surely there. Because I LURVE you.

Lisa Brandos said...

All I can say is that if said tween girl grows up to be an emo teen girl, watch out. You will be told that you don't matter and you will not matter.

I believe that this is a fair example of the Newsweek article on Generation Me, which if you have not read, you can read here: http://www.newsweek.com/id/194640?GT1=43002

I just hope that I can teach my daughters to not be this way before they get sucked into the tween years.

Pray for me.

Peggy said...

Ah, I have a tween boy...big difference. Grunts and mumbles are about all I can get out of him.

My 7 year old is already falling prey to tweendom...innocence lost thanks the Disney tween machine!

DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

Brilliantly astute observation of the species. I've got two at home, though one is of the male variety. You nailed the female, with her bright plumage and Jonas baiting ornamentation.

The male is often moody and reclusive, prone to communication by single word answer or a series of short grunts. Both male and female have been endowed with super human strength in their thumbs, which enables them to text from the moment that they get up at the crack of noon until the completion of the late night X-Box 360 marathon about 11:30 or so.

Figure that you've got about 5 or 6 relatively good years left. Squeeze out all the hugs, kisses and communication you can in that period as it goes fallow for a while. I have been told that they riccochet back around after the age of 21 or so. I sure hope so. There's only so much xanax, mediation and talk therapy to go around.

Lizgizzy said...

1. Funniest post I've read in just about forever. I wonder what the mating call of a tween will be in about 11 years. My son is a toddler now and I want to know so that I can identify it and ground him.

2. I used to work in a movie theater, when I was a tween. If you knew what the liquid butter starts out as, you might not be so quick to put it on your popcorn or already so addicted that it doesn't matter. But, it isn't that it is roughly a 50 pound tube of lardish substance colored bright orange, it is that it comes in an industrial drum. I shudder to think what the bug entrails and eggs per part is. Ick, ick, ick.

Cakelet said...

My tween girls made it to 21 and 18 and are both at college now. And I'm still on my feet. Although, one of them did cause the whole family to need to go into counseling. But we're better now!
P.S. Thanks for clearing up my technical difficulties with your site. I think I'm all set now. There was a bit of a delay, but the text did come up eventually.

Tricia said...

I can't believe girl 1 was in the bathroom alone. I thought they ALWAYS went to the bathroom together and I'm often afraid, very afraid, of getting stuck in there with them. Or worse than giving funny looks to the curly haired woman, what about when you come upon a tween group and all of a sudden silence cascades down around them...makes me feel old.

This is hilarious, probably in many ways because it brings back many memories. Thanks.

Juvie said...

You are hilarious, and you've absolutely nailed this age group. I vote for expanding this into a real guidebook/handbook for us all. As a parent and owner of a tween store, I know we could all use it!

Keely said...

OMG, funniest post evAH! *flails hands wildly*

You probably wouldn't want to be cool to tweens, because it would mean you were supplying them with booze.

Stacy (the Random Cool Chick) said...

Is it wrong that I'm laughing through your post and cringing all at the same time with tween-dom looming in my future? Sure, it's still a few years off, after all Princess Nagger is only 6, but if I blink a few times it'll be here way too fast... ;)

Dr Zibbs said...

Love the pics on your Facebook!

Dr Zibbs said...

Love the pics on your Facebook!

Mrsbear said...

I own a tween, she alternately adores me and snubs me in public settings. I try not to take it personally. Last time she got angry at the fam for not taking her seriously, she immediately shouted "can I use your phone?" Apparently she needed someone to share her outrage via cell phone.

Bex said...

you deserve some sort of purple heart for battling to the butter dispenser at the movies amidst the tween packs.

Captain Dumbass said...

I was going to throw out a "thank God I have boys" thing, but Rebekah has scared the hell out of me.

FoN said...

The tweens are a force. Half the time I've noticed they don't communicate at all, verbally. They can be standing RIGHT BESIDE each other and will be texting. I find myself hoping often that they are at least using correct grammer and spelling.

krista said...

feck.
this made me laugh out loud.
almost loud enough to wake the baby.
my love interest says he'll never let our daughter become a tween.
he wants her to feed her pain instead.
i'm hoping to find a middle ground.

Blogging Mama Andrea said...

Hilarious! I will heed your advice tot eh hilt. Though I can't add any phrases about Edward or Jonas brothers was it? I know absolutely nothing about either.
Since you are the expert though let me ask - What if you happen upon a MOM in the 40-ish range in butt hugging skin tight jeans and a glittery sparkly High School Musical t-shirt? Stay away (what I have been doing)? Or kindly tell her she is way to old to be wearing that crap? And yes if I could unobtrusively get a pic of her I would. She wears the same type of outfit everyday and she's a mom at my sons school.
Scary, very scary.

DeeMarie said...

I totally rawk tween speak.

Dana's Brain said...

I.Dread.The.Day.

Seriously. Why did I think I really wanted a girl?

Wicked Step Mom said...

Wow, you really nailed the tween girl culture. I get a laugh every time that I chat with the girls because I can kind of hang with the rapid tempo. Bear usually stares at us wondering what the hell we are saying.

Thank you so much for adding your style and hilarity to our project. I can't wait to read the next post.

Chris Wood said...

Ah,thanks for clearing that up. I think!

CaJoh said...

I have only experienced Tween boys in my so called parenting career. My step daughter was 15 when I met my wife, so that doesn't count. But I do know what you mean by what Tween girls are like and it's pretty scary if you ask me.

The Stiletto Mom said...

I'm not sure but I think given this set of criteria that Miss G at age seven is actually a tween already.

Hold me.

PAPATV said...

Nowwhere do gals all look the same than LA. Want evidence? Look at Heidi Montag season one of the Hills and Heidi Montag (Pratt) now.

Actually, I might dye my hair blonde, too.

Lizgizzy said...

Steenky- thanks for dropping by my site and for your kind comments. I'm sorry you had to set up an account to do it. I've been thinking about moving off of Live for a while because it is kind of a pain, but am not sure about where to move to.

Jenni said...

WITNESS!

beth said...

Just when you figure how to be the cool Mom who's not trying to be cool, they grow older and a new game begins. Have fun!

Zip n Tizzy said...

I'm trying very hard to avoid the tween girl phenomenon. In 6 short years they will be swarming our house I'm sure and that is just too scary to imagine.

Mama Dawg said...

Mine's 9 and she's thisclose to being a tween. Gah.....

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