How Consumerism Is Killing “Tweenhood” For Young Girls 

The term “tween” was coined in the 1940s, a time of significant societal change and the emergence of a new generation. Tweenhood encapsulated a unique stage of development, a transitional period between childhood and adolescence. The world was recovering from the Second World War, and children were growing up in a rapidly changing environment. The term’ tween’ was a way to describe those not-quite-teenagers, not-quite-kids, who were navigating the complexities of this new world. 

In the early 2000s, tweenhood was a prominent feature in mainstream media and marketing.

From popular Disney shows to fashion brands like Aeropostale and American Eagle, the world seemed to be celebrating the unique stage of tween girls. However, it’s important to note that I’m not idealizing this era. It was a time when tween girls were being targeted by corporations, but it was also a time when they were being given the tools to grow into confident and strong women. The landscape has changed significantly since then. 

Each year, I witness a concerning trend: girls are being influenced at increasingly younger ages to act older and consume products beyond their years. They seem to bypass the once-cherished stage of tweenhood, middle school braces, and Bath and Body Works perfumes and leap straight into the world of Drunk Elephant skincare products and Stanley Cups. This rapid transition from princess dresses to Urban Outfitters is alarming, as it means they’re losing out on those crucial tween years and experiences. 

So why is tweenhood disappearing? 

I don’t think there’s one entity to blame for the eradication of tweens. I think it’s more of a combination of factors bouncing off one another — first, social media. Kids are often on TikTok and Instagram and are constantly bombarded by ads and, more importantly, influencers. Kids get a more intimate look into their idols and celebrities’ lives through these apps. This intensifies the need to have the items these people do.

While celebrity endorsements are nothing new, they were always limited to television ads, print ads, and the computer. With access to a phone basically 24/7, kids are consuming these messages at higher rates than previous generations. With this unlimited access to social media, companies have been granted access to kids like never before. They’ve had the opportunity to learn kids’ browsing habits and interests. They feed off the one thing all girls want: to be older. 

What now? 

What can we do now? The truth is, I don’t have a perfect answer. We live in a society that prioritizes profit over people, particularly young women and girls. However, as someone who has spent years nannying and mentoring young girls, I believe the best course of action is to monitor the media they consume. This means guiding them away from trends designed for grown women and encouraging them to embrace their unique identities. It’s a challenging task. But if we don’t take a stand now, the line between adulthood and childhood will continue to blur.

Featured image via Nothing Ahead on Pexels


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