Three Things This Week
1. Tempest in a Tee Shirt
What it is: 17-year-old JoJo Siwa (YouTube influencer, hair bow mogul, and former Dance Moms cast member) announced casually, via tee shirt, that she considers herself a member of the LGBTQ+ community.
Why it’s an insight into how teens view sexual identity: Siwa is open about the fact that while she’s “the happiest she’s ever been” to be “out” as LGBTQ+, she doesn’t know how to label herself, and isn’t ready to do so just yet. If you are a young person in 2021, being anything less than 100% certain of your sexual orientation is enough of a reason to state, in very public ways, that you are queer. Two things are true at once here: First, the thoughts, desires, and anxieties of our teens should always be met with our compassion, love, and understanding. Second, we have to recognize that our teens are growing up in a world where their culture tells them that making pronouncements about their sexual orientation at an incredibly young age is necessary, even if they’re not sure yet. Check out our Parent’s Guide to LGBTQ+ (free to you if you’re reading this newsletter!) if your teen is bringing up hard questions about sex, gender fluidity, identity, and what God thinks of it all.
2. Your Laugh Is Cringe
What it is: According to a Twitter thread started by The New York Times’ Taylor Lorenz, who reports on influencers and Gen Z, the youth have deemed the crying-laughing emoji as “cringe” and it is now reserved for people 30 and above.
Why you could choose to switch it up, or not: Affectionately dubbed “cry-face,” the “crying-laughing” emoji has been used for over a decade by iPhone and Android users alike as a shortcut to depict laughter or amusement. When teens text with each other, the cry-face might be interpreted as sarcasm or a passive aggressive response. If you’re still using “cry-face,” rest assured, your teen probably isn’t judging you. A parent sending “cry-face” will have different implications than it would when teens send it to each other. (Digital life has heaped layers of context onto our communication that will take years to untangle.) To better speak your teen’s (texting) language, you could try texting the skull emoji (as in, “that’s so funny, I’m dead”) or the actually crying emoji (as in, “that’s so funny, I’m weeping”).
3. Bright Hair Is Everywhere
What it is: One of the most popular trends at the moment (for teens of both genders) is using bright neon or pastel dye to make a fashion statement. Think deep blue, amethyst, cotton candy, and of course, Billie Eilish’s signature neon green.
Why it’s the look of choice: There was a time when bright, unnatural hair colors were the province of punk rockers, only. With more and more drugstore options that are easy to rinse out and don’t require bleach, some parents are loosening up to the idea of letting their teen look like a rock star (at least for a week or so). The pandemic has compounded the trend’s popularity. Since so many teens are doing school at home, they’re free from dress codes and the judgement of teachers and authorities, too. #Quarantint has even been trending since last spring as celebrities from Dua Lipa to Demi Lovato tried to cure their quarantine boredom with a brighter look. Whether or not these statement looks are on the table in your household, try to understand where your teen is coming from when they beg you to pick up a jar of Manic Panic boxed dye at the drugstore.
Slang of the Week
And that’s on periodt: the final word on something; basically, “and that’s a fact.” (Example: “Chick-fil-A is better than In-N-Out, and that’s on periodt.”)
Fate: The Winx Saga and Emotional Health
Fate: The Winx Saga is a dark, gritty adaptation of the cartoon Winx Club, a show about fairies, witches, and mythical creatures (with celebrities like Ariana Grande as voice actors). Fate, which was the #1 show on Netflix this week, centers on a girl named Bloom, who learns that her earthly parents aren’t actually her real parents, and that she’s actually a fairy (i.e. someone with magical abilities). She enrolls at a boarding school called Alfea where teenage fairies learn to cultivate their abilities, as well as get into all sorts of teenage relationship drama. If this sounds like Harry Potter, you’re not far off—although in this world they still stalk each other on Instagram and listen to Enya. (Didn’t see that coming, did you?)
In Fate, magic is powered by emotion, so the stronger the emotion, the stronger the magic. Although the headmaster’s official recommendation is to rely on positive emotion, Bloom finds that negative emotions are stronger sources of power for her, so she spends a lot of time deliberately ruminating on traumatic experiences. If Bloom took the Enneagram, she might be a Type Four—and teens who feel misunderstood and underappreciated for their uniqueness may resonate with some of the conversations Bloom has with her mother.
Although it feels relatively tame by TV-MA Netflix standards, the show does contain profanity, innuendo, drug use, and some frightening moments. But it also contains ample opportunity for conversation about topics that are often bypassed: emotion and emotional health. What is emotion, and why do we even have it? What does it look like to be emotionally healthy, and what role should emotion play in the life of Christians? If your teen cares about Fate, consider using it as an opportunity to ask some of the following questions:
- What do you think emotions are for?
- What do emotions fuel in real life?
- Why do you think God gave us emotions?
- What does it look like to be emotionally healthy?
- What role do emotions play in mental health?