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Sweet and “Sour”

Posted by Axis on May 28, 2021

3 THINGS THIS WEEK

  1. Student Bodies

What it is: A Florida high school made headlines when staff altered student photos that were seen to violate the school’s standards for modesty. Outraged parents called for updates to the schools’ “outdated” standards for how students, especially females, should be expected to dress. 

Why it’s got a bigger takeaway: The whole situation is, of course, unfortunate. It’s also difficult to understand how students’ outfits were apparently fine to wear to school, but required a Photoshop fix after being photographed. Some parents said that their teen girls responded to hints of their cleavage being “censored” with a laugh or a shrug. But other parents voiced concern that by altering the photos in the first place, the school had objectified minors and caused kids to feel shame that it will take some time to overcome. While no teen is typically a fan of dress codes, there is certainly a fine line between maintaining an academic environment and enforcing a double standard that makes young women feel unnecessarily self-conscious. 

  1. Not Hungry 

What it is: “What I Eat In A Day” posts on TikTok are exactly what they sound like: a compilation of what one person ate that day. #WhatIEatInADay currently has over 6 billion views

Why it’s worth paying attention to: At first, the hashtag was called out for encouraging disordered eating. It’s true that many “health” influencers would document the entirety of what they ate during a day only to fall woefully short of consuming even 1,000 daily calories. Certain accounts that participate in this hashtag do consistently promote a fearful mentality around calories and food. But just because your teen is viewing this type of content isn’t necessarily a red flag. #WhatIEatInADay has also become a way of rejecting toxic wellness, parodying influencer culture and even celebrating eating disorder recovery. Teens who have experienced anorexia will proudly post themselves eating a massive slice of cake. If you know your teen is vulnerable to disordered eating, be aware that this trend could be impacting their mental health. 

  1. The Detransitioners 

What it is: A segment that aired on CBS during 60 Minutes on May 23 called attention to young people who began the medical process of gender transition, only to regret making the decision a short time later.

Why it drew controversy from both sides: This particular segment examined legislation in several states that would limit healthcare options for minors experiencing gender dysphoria, interviewing experts about the possible unintended repercussions of these new laws. In order to present another side of the argument, reporter Lesley Stahl also interviewed “detransitioners” who told her that they felt “blindly affirmed” when they expressed a desire to explore medical transition. These interview subjects noted the influence of transition transformations they had seen on the internet, and how they felt confused when their own transition experiences in no way measured up. Their stories of increased depression, disappointment and suicidal ideation even after that transition process was completed are heartbreaking. LGBTQ+ advocates slammed the segment, saying that it presents a false narrative of how most trans people experience medical care. Others feel the segment is too critical or fear-mongering about the proposed healthcare laws. The conversation around how to treat gender dysphoria in minors continues to evolve, and one could argue that pieces like Stahl’s simply add depth and nuance to a necessary public discussion. 

Slang of the Week

yt: slang for “White,” referring to White people or White culture 

Olivia Rodrigo, Sweet and Sour 

Last Friday, Olivia Rodrigo released her debut album SOUR (language). 18-year-old Rodrigo, previously known for her roles on Disney Channel shows like Bizaardvark and High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, made waves in the music industry this year when her song “drivers license(language) spent its first 8 weeks at number 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100. Lots of new artists break out with one or two hits and then quickly fade into obscurity, but Rodrigo has been maintaining a steady climb to stardom. Now with SOUR already racking up over 1 billion streams in its first weekend, she may be the next big thing.

Stylistically, the album’s 11 songs range from sparse piano ballads to jarring pop-punk, but most of them seem to be about her breakup with High School Musical costar Joshua Bassett. Key lyrics include, “All I ever wanted was to be enough for you” (“enough for you”), “Guess you didn’t cheat, but you’re still a traitor” (“traitor”), and “I’m not cool and I’m not smart, and I can’t even parallel park” (“brutal”). She goes into extreme depth about how her mental health and identity were negatively affected by this common coming-of-age event, which means her music often feels highly relatable for teens fixated on relationships.

Artists like Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber, who became mega famous as teenagers, are now entering their thirties—and artists like Rodrigo are becoming the new stars for Gen Z. Rodrigo has already talked about the ways stars of yesteryear like Swift inspire her, but we hope she can learn from and avoid some of the mistakes these celebrities made as young and quickly-rich superstars, especially in this age of cancel culture. One thing Gen Z values above all else is authenticity, and it’s clear Rodrigo has no issue with being vulnerable. With the whole world watching, we pray she’s able to recognize the impact of the image she’s establishing now as she continues her already-massive career.

If your teen is a Rodrigo fan, consider listening to SOUR with them. (Again, be aware that many tracks on this album contain profanity, so use discretion.) When you’re done, here are some questions to spark conversation:

  • Are there any songs you especially connect with on SOUR? Why?
  • Do you think it’s smart to publicly talk about (or post about) your private relationship? Why or why not?
  • How would you handle the pressure of being very famous very quickly at this age? What kind of person do you want others to see you as?

Keep the Faith!

- The Axis Team

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