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Guide for the perplexed
Not a grownup and not a little kid. To be a teenager is to live in a parallel universe. Teenagers have their own slang, their own jokes and their own (super)heroes. TOI-Crest gives you a crash course
A pale complexion, red lips and a tendency to drink human blood. That's what makes teenagers swoon today. Edward Cullen, the vampire hero of the Twilight series immortalised by Robert Pattinson, appeals to 13-year-old girls more than Brad Pitt ever will. Television series like 'Gossip Girl' and 'Pretty Little Liars' which are about love, friendship, deception, murder but played out by characters in heels longer than their skirts has tweens exchanging notes furiously. Whether its Manhattan or Mumbai, school kids know everything that Blair and Serena ever did, said and wore. Men might worship Charlie Sheen and his errant ways but boys are definitely bigger fans of Angus Turner Jones, who plays the eternally-hungry academicallychallenged Jake Harper in the hit show 'Two And A Half Men'. On the subject of heroes, teens have a thing for caped crusaders. If the first look of 'Iron Man 3' is anything to go by, it will be
If you're a boy, it's likely that you publicly sing along to Linkin Park and Green Day. But if you're a girl One Direction or 1D is way you veer. The five boys from the UK - Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson - have made feet dance and hearts break all the way from New York to New Delhi. "What Makes You Beautiful" was the fave song of nearly every girl tween we spoke to. Dancefloor king Akon and Latin American crooner Enrique Iglesias also met with their approval. The boys thought One Direction was nice but girly. But Australian sensation Gotye and queen of eccentricity Lady Gaga were good enough to play on their iPods. Interestingly, a lot of the boys were introduced to rock music through video games' soundtracks.
Mermaids have made way for muggles, fairytales for futuristic dystopia, and vampires are the new romantic heroes. Teen reading habits have spawned a whole new category of fiction called Young Adult, perfect for those tough teenage years. Quite a few kids manage to find time for books despite their activity-intense lives, and they have a rich, diverse, global bookshelf to draw from. 'Hunger Games' and 'Catching Fire', which have been described as "Gladiator meets Project Runway", are popular with both sexes and so is the Septimus Heap series of fantasy novels. For girls, visual media is often a trendsetter for text so books based on popular TV shows such as 'Pretty Little Liars', 'Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen', Twilight series and Vampire Diaries series find favour.
Style, it turns out, is second nature to a generation who have grown up with stores like Zara, Mango and Forever 21. While Bollywood celebs like Anushka Sharma and Deepika Padukone do influence their choice of clothes, it is peers who have the greatest impact. This bunch is quite brand-conscious too. An Assocham survey last year found that more than one-third of youngsters in urban areas spend Rs 5, 000 a month on apparel. Adam D Galinsky, a professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, has studied the effects of clothing on cognitive processes. In an interview, Galinsky explains why clothes matter so much to teens: "Maybe clothes matter because, at that age, you're unsure of status. And there may not be much else for them to base status on. " Good clothes help teens establish their social hierarchies.
American teens might be throwing words like cray, totes and derp at each other but Indian tweens' chatting vocabulary depends on the emoticons offered by the BlackBerry Messenger service and WhatsApp. Winks, toothy grins, outstretched-tongue, they use them all. Almost every child that we spoke to was welded to their cellphone every waking hour and keeping in touch with friends over BBM is like second nature to most of these post millennial babies. But if there's one word that has taken the tween world by storm is the ubiquitous OMG! The three-letter 'word' can be used to describe a dress, a song, a look, a boy, a movie and even a word. And it doesn't matter if you're 13 or 30. It works any time, every time.
In 2000, youngsters would hang out at MCD parks or at each other's homes. Today, cafes have replaced parks and drawing rooms simply can't compete with lounges and hookah bars. Another regular haunt is the neighbourhood mall which is overrun by clacking teens who see it as an escape from boredom. As for money, they no longer have to beg, plead and cry. Just ask the obliging parents.
The common notion about adolescents is that they gorge on junk food but not teenage girls. The thumb rule is - don't eat anything that makes you fat. Their diets vary from nojunk food, no-carbs to the no-milk, nocheese diet. One teen we spoke to lost 13 kilos in just two weeks. She went on a prescribed diet because "she weighed more than her mother". Those who do go out for the occasional burger or zinger prefer not to talk about it in front of their peers.
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