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5 May 2012

News to Novels #16

Teenagers taking a stand and growing up too fast.  This week's is all about normal, ordinary young girls going through real and terrifying issues.

We're proof that glossy magazines can give you anorexia: Here in an emotional encounter, LIZ JONES meets the girl campaigning to ban the airbrushed models she blames for their shared torment.
When I meet Rachael Johnston, it’s like looking in a mirror.  The same ability as me to lie, the same steely single-mindedness, the same self-doubt.  There’s the lofty disdain of health professionals and parents, the conviction that we are right and the rest of the world is wrong; a feeling that everyone else is slovenly and greedy.  Rachael and I share the wish to be perfect, as well as an addiction to Diet Coke.  We both have anorexia nervosa, the psychiatric illness which causes more fatalities than any other, and which is the most difficult disease from which to recover fully.  We also share an addiction to the only thing we have ever wanted to feed on, suckle at and drink in great big, thirsty gulps: the glossy world of fashion magazines, the sartorial equivalent of toxic waste.
Rachael, who is 20, hit the headlines last week when she and her mother, Lynne, set up an online petition calling for airbrushed photographs in glossy magazines to be clearly labelled as such.  Rachael’s decline into anorexia was made worse by her obsession with photographs of super-slim celebrities in magazines.  She traces the beginnings of her illness back to being 13, when she saw a picture of Victoria Beckham in a magazine.

Teenage girl prepares for marriage at just 14 on latest episode of My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding
Gypsy communities across America who appear on TLC's show My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding continue to shock the 'gorgas' - that is, anyone who is an outsider.  So news of 14-year-old Priscilla's imminent arranged marriage will be sure to raise a few eyebrows among fans of the TV show, especially considering that in her home state of Georgia, the legal age for marriage is 16.  Regardless of this fact, Priscilla's proud parents, Louann and Pat Baby, have big plans for their daughter who has been raised the traditional gypsy way.

How fast does the girl want to grow up? It's not entirely her fault if she's been brought up in a culture that's quite old-fashioned, especially when it comes to a women's place.  To stay at home being a mother and a wife is fine but at 14? Chances are she's going to be a young mother and there goes any chance of being young and having life experiences and adventure.  She's missed out on adolescence.  Would it be controversial to have a protagonist with this life and beliefs? Or would it be interesting to get into this kind of P.O.V? Where could her journey lead? Actual happiness or will she start to challenge things and question the life she's been brought up in as she gets older? Who's the groom in all this? Is he an older man who'll take advantage of her or he is just as young as she is?

Teenage mother and her newborn son who went missing from hospital have been found.
A teenage mother who went missing with her new-born baby has been found, police said. Bedfordshire Police launched an appeal for help to find 16-year-old Jasmine Woodbridge and her son Jayden yesterday after she left Luton and Dunstable Hospital without telling anyone. She gave birth at the hospital on April 30. But just one day later the teenager took her newborn and departed the hospital without telling anyone.
The reason why she disappeared is a mystery. What else could be going on in her life? Trouble? Social services? Dangerous ex or biological father? Maybe she was planning on dumping the child?

Can it EVER be socially acceptable to have hairy armpits? Woman who gave up shaving debates prickly subject on This Morning
Like it or not, there are few sights more arresting than a woman with a hairy armpit. The unfettered growth of female underarm and leg hair is considered one of the ultimate social taboos, dismissed as the kind of eccentric behaviour that should only adopted by hippies.  But while as a society we are used to removing all our body hair, one woman has decided to challenge the notion that women must be hair-free to be happy.  Graduate student Emer O'Toole from Dublin decided to stop shaving for good 18 months ago when she came to the conclusion that too much pressure is put upon women to conform to what she calls 'artificial gender norms'.
Weird article, yeah, but what if a young teenager decided to this? With all this articles about girls getting married off at 14 and suffering from anorexia because of the celebrities she's familiar with, what would happen to a girl so young who looks at this and thinks 'enough is enough.  I'm going to challenge pressurising crap like this.'  How would her peers react to her?


  1. The gypsy thing makes me thing about cultures before ours, where marriage in the teens wasn't a surprising thing. It's interesting to compare today's values and cultures to those that we see in historical and fantasy novels. And those very issues you bring up (losing her teenage years and freedoms to being a wife and probably a mother) sometimes get brought up there too. But I wonder how much of that is a product of today's culture. Did women getting married in their teens in other centuries worry about losing their "teen years"? Teenagers as we know them is quite a new thing.

    (Totally not advocating teen marriage, just thinking aloud)

  2. Fascinatng links as always...

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  3. Oh I wouldn't advocate it either. But the points you raise would be an interesting read. I honestly wouldn't mind seeing a protagonist like this. I think it could raise a few questions and make for interesting book discussions to read this kind of P.O.V who's fine with her decision and life. :)