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OPINION: Generational Differences: Teens and Tweens of Today

With the rise of digital influencers in a social-media-driven world, being 10 looks objectively different than it did in the early 2000s and 2010s, at least for me. We’ve all heard about or experienced the “Sephora ten-year-olds” in some capacity. It’s been the talk of TikTok and other social media platforms about tweens and teens “too young” for makeup and advanced skincare being rude and buying up all the good products. Regardless of where a person might stand on the matter, with the speed at which the world is moving, it is not surprising to see a change in the new norm for tween girls. 

At work one Saturday morning in Franseca’s, I saw two pre-teens between the ages of 8 and 10 come into the store wearing outfits I would wear to class. Lululemon Align leggings,  scuba pullover, belt bag, Dior lip oil, claw clips, and Golden Goose sneakers. I was appalled. While it’s a completely simple fit, it seemed to be the uniform for the younger teens now. It made me think about myself at that age. I grew up with millennial cousins and binged shows like 16 & pregnant,” “Jersey Shore,” “The Simple Life” and more.  Additionally, I listened to the music my cousins did and admired them putting on makeup as they got ready to go to teen skate or house parties; my outfits were Justice pieces, Limited Too,  Aeropostale, and Claire’s accessories; I had a Nintendo DS, where I took care of my virtual dogs; my makeup was Lipsmackers and I had an unhealthy obsession with Mindless Behavior and the OMG Girlz.

That’s when I realized, I believe the reason for these differences is that this generation of young teenagers do not have the luxury of age-appropriate outlets. Magazines I enjoyed like J-14 or Seventeen, younger teenagers today don’t have access to because they’re no longer made or printed. Stores such as Justice have been reduced to a small section in Walmart and I noticed that there’s not even a tween section for between ages anymore. TikTok and Instagram influencers play an integral role in the lives and decisions of today’s youth. BookTok is where they get their recommendations, while I read Wattpad stories. However, I still read books categorized for my age like James Patterson’s “Maximum Ride” series, and wouldn’t have dared to ask my mom to buy me erotic fiction. 

Today’s younger tweens and teens don’t have outlets we had solely dedicated to tweens. It would make sense that tweens and teens of today would mimic what they see around them. I played with acrylics, my mom’s club clothes and makeup and dabbled in her skincare occasionally, but I still looked like an awkward middle schooler in public. 

My friends and I played M.A.S.H at lunch or recess and fought about who was going to marry which member of One Direction.  At sleepovers, we’d do homemade facials and choreograph dance routines to submit to Disney to be featured on “Shake It Up!”. I guess you could say TikTok keeps the spirit of creating dance routines alive, but the teens and tweens of this generation  don’t play cute games that “predict” your future anymore or do DIY skincare, instead, they run to Sephora for Drunk Elephant and hylauronic acid. 

Truthfully, all these teens know is social media and technology, as they were between the ages of five and ten when the pandemic hit, and almost everything became virtual. I see many individuals on social media outraged by the new norm for younger teenagers or arguing that it makes them grow up too fast, and personally, it just makes me feel more grateful for the era I was born into. Plus, at least in my experience, my friends and I did dances, had conversations and read certain things that were definitely not age-appropriate. The middle-school-age teens I encounter are still very much the typical middle-school students we were, but just in a different font. They still gossip, talk about who they are interested in, and are still learning about the world around them. They still have room to be the carefree tweens and teens that older generations were, maybe they just look the same age as us while they do it.

By Enfiniti Jones, Contributing Writer

Graphic by Shae-Lynn Henderson, EIC



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