The Film Industry’s Insidious Perpetuation of Unhealthy Body Expectations

The film industry has been known to cast actors to play disproportionately aged roles for generations—middle-aged men playing mid-twenties lovers, barely legal girls playing love interests of men almost twice their age, etc. Recently, a media  epidemic is casting significantly older actors and actresses to play teens and young adults.

Popular television shows in the past decade have been guilty of this tactic. Shows like Teen Wolf, Pretty Little Liars, The Vampire Diaries, etc. are all popular series that have had multiple successful seasons and are known for their stunning cast of actors and actresses. Another commonality between the shows is that while the majority of the main characters are supposed to be high schoolers of some variety, they are mostly portrayed by actors in their mid-to-late twenties. Joining the ranks is newer show Riverdale, whose cast of mid-twenties actors are meant to portray high school sophomores.

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While the actors’ beauty and recognition does elevate the show by drawing more people in, it also perpetuates unfair body ideals for real teenagers. While the majority of kids don’t grow into their bodies until after high school, adolescent awkwardness is somewhat of a myth in young adult TV shows.

The effects have come to fruition in high schoolers today. Makeup and push-up bras are being enforced upon young girls, and boys seem to be striving for the ideal six pack summer bod that these shows glorify.

The reality of the matter is that these actors are forcing kids to live up to an older image than they should have to. Appearances should be a choice and kids should have the opportunity to play around with style and fashion. As soon as kids hit high school age, society is seemingly forcing them into the cookie-cutter images presented on screen by shows targeting a young adult/teen audience.

Although these shows are remarkably successful, the film industry needs to stop sacrificing realism for aesthetics or beauty and let kids be kids—let them be okay with not being perfect.