Culture & Entertainment

Does teen fiction send a bad message to girls?

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Culture & Entertainment

Does teen fiction send a bad message to girls?

Bella and Edward from the movie Twilight kiss In the newest issue of Teen Vogue, actress Shailene Woodley, slams the teen lit series Twilight because it doesn't send a positive message to young women. "Twilight, I’m sorry, is about a very unhealthy, toxic relationship. [The protagonist Bella] falls in love with this guy and the second he leaves her, her life is over and she’s going to kill herself! What message are we sending to young people? That is not going to help this world evolve,” the Divergent star said. I have to agree with her that Bella and Edward's relationship is not a positive image we want to show young girls. Bella's entire world centers around Edward and she is willing to give up everything including her life to be with him. But I would have to say Shailene's character in the hit TV show The Secret Life of the American Teenager, who was 16 and pregnant, wasn't exactly a good role model for teen girls either. I always think it's odd when people choose to slam teen fiction because a lot of classic fiction that young women read doesn't have a positive message either. It drives me absolutely mad when people talk about the amazing love story of Cathy and Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights. This is a novel that is critically-acclaimed and many young women read it and fall in love with it in high school. I adore this book too, but in no way do I think it's romantic. It's about a couple who take great joy in hurting each other. I would argue Cathy is quite a lot like Bella from Twilight because her whole world revolves around Heathcliff and she can't handle being without him, even when she's married to another man. In fact there are many parallels between Wuthering Height's love triangle of Cathy, Heathcliff and Edgar and Twilight's triangle between Bella, Edward and Jacob. Romeo and Juliet's famous balconey kiss I think teen fiction has always had a bit of a negative message. Look at William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Teens adore this play and thinks it's the epitome of romance. And for me Romeo and Juliet are the epitome of a toxic relationship. The message this play tells young women that it's okay to be so dependent on your lover that you would commit suicide instead of trying to live without him. Funnily enough, this same message is in Twilight. So really I don't think teen fiction today is that different from teen fiction throughout history. I don't think Shailene Woodley realizes that Twilight is in many ways a very bad rip off of classic novels. And that Bella and Edward are a part of a long history literary history of incredibly toxic relationships. I think instead of complaining about these books, we should instead focus on teaching young women what a positive relationship looks like. And really, I think most of them already know that. I quite enjoyed Twilight, but in no way did I think Bella was a positive role model. In fact, seeing such a negative role model showed me what I didn't want to be like. We shouldn't try to shelter girls from negative images because it's seeing a bad relationship that shows them what a good relationship is. Do you think teen fiction sends a negative message to girls? Twilight photo courtesy of musicgrl87/FlickrCC. Romeo and Juliet photo courtesy of Nihonjoe?Wikimedia Commons
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Does teen fiction send a bad message to girls?

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