Is That You?

Perfect looks, perfect hair, perfect plot, perfect ending. Are these Hollywood teens anywhere close to the real you?
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For a long time, a mirror hung above my TV. And that was a bad idea. The problem was that I could glance up at my reflection as I watched old reruns of Saved by the Bell every day after school. That's how I am supposed to look? I worried. They have it all together. They don't have weird things happening on their faces. Even Screech isn't really dorky looking! Maybe the worst part was that these attractive California teens were their high school's popular kids. Everyone liked them. But the only other kids in the entire school—the ones who wore glasses, were overweight, or just weren't as attractive—were all nerds. So guess which group I assumed I belonged in? The nerds. Is that really true? I thought. We're really supposed to look like that or else we're outcasts? Don't get me wrong—teen shows are great because they're fun and deal with stuff we can relate to. Like these characters, we fight with siblings, get threatened by bullies, and have crushes. But in the back of my mind, I realized that something was wrong with the way TV and movies show us how teens act, look, dress and feel. It just didn't seem true.

true and false test

Of course, I know TV shows aren't always going to be 100 percent accurate. I understand that teens can't lift cars like Clark Kent on Smallville. But the problem is that sometimes the media's mirror reflection of us is off in smaller ways that are more difficult to recognize. Since we see a lot that is true, we might not even notice what isn't true.

What's wrong with that? Well, sometimes we might just accept those less-than-true messages that often run counter to our Christian beliefs. Without even knowing it, our brains may end up absorbing stuff that's harmful to us and to our relationship with God.

So what can we do about it? I'm learning that a first step is to simply keep our minds working while we enjoy these shows.

By doing so, we can more easily straighten out those distorted mirror images.

Here's a good starting question to ask: Is there enough here that's true to my life and morals for me to even watch this show or movie? To be honest, some shows and movies are just so completely against my Christian values, I've got to resist the temptation to even watch them. Shows like MTV's Spring Break portray life as something I can't even relate to. These TV guys and gals don't make the same decisions as I do. They don't hold the same beliefs. And they sure don't look like I do. So I change the channel.

Usually, though, shows have just a few things that seem a bit out of whack. I try to stay aware of what's true and false. Here are some of the common falsehoods I've noticed:

trendy and perfect

Like the characters I used to watch on Saved by the Bell, most shows and films follow really good-looking teens. But it's not just that they are attractive. They also—unlike us—avoid bad hair days, bad face days, and times when weird things are happening in their bodies. We're led to believe that all teens are as well put together and as trendy as those on The O.C. or Smallville.

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