Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Power of 'Tween Queens' With Their Own Identities

By Jasmine Gardner

Source: London Standard Times

If you're approaching 30 and still trying to find your place in the world, you should probably give up now, because coming up from behind are the Tween Queens.

They have their own identities all figured out and they are gearing up to take over.

Scratch looking up to your heroes: the new adoration has a downward motion, and the new girls to worship go by the names of Malia Obama, Miley Cyrus and Lourdes Ciccone-Leon - oh, and they're aged 11-16.

These girls have a fashion sense to rival Kate Moss and confidence to rival Beth Ditto, but unlike their older counterparts - the Geldof sisters, the Hiltons and the Osbournes - they are also squeaky clean, yet untarnished by the trappings of teen fame.

"If you can have everything they have got without the negatives, then why would they want to be mess-ups?" asks Lisa Clark, agony aunt for teen magazine Mizz and author of the Lola Love tween lifestyle books.

"Tweens are developing their identities much earlier these days and there's a lot out there to help them gain confidence."

Take Miley Cyrus, the 16-year-old star of the Disney show Hannah Montana, who appeared on Jonathan Ross's show in April to promote her new film.

Not only did she handle the interview with more self-assurance than any grown-up movie star ever has, she was in complete control of the chat, routinely dominated by Ross's quips, and even suggested she should take over the show.

When Ross asked: "Do you want to know my favourite part of the movie?", without hesitation she unabashedly answered: "Me?" Ross was left saying, "Christ, you're confident", in apparent wonderment.

Perhaps it's the parenting that fuels them. While Bob Geldof appears unfazed by his children's wild behaviour, the Obamas and Madonna seem to have clear guidelines. "We are going to set some boundaries," Michelle Obama said just before the family moved into the White House.

When asked about her rules for Lourdes, 12, Madonna said: "She can't wear whatever she wants. I don't want to see her underwear hanging out of her pants", and Miley Cyrus has made it known that her father, country musician Billy Ray Cyrus, won't allow her to get a Hollywood smile or cut her hair.

"Support from parents who give encouragement definitely helps these celeb tweens," says Clark, "and when their self-assured parents tell them anything is possible, it not only rubs off on them but also on their friends.

Looking at her mother's example, Lourdes is certainly in a position to think, 'My mum is queen of the world. I can do anything I put my mind to'."

Unlike Miley, Lourdes remains markedly silent. Instead she carves out her identity through fashion. Her array of hats, scarves and lace-up boots has been exciting fashion bloggers for months.

Malia, 11, has been causing a stir with her style, too. This week her peace symbol T-shirt has got the whole world talking - about her.

And these days it's best to start young - even at three, Suri Cruise, daughter of Tom and Katie, is a fashion icon and a tween in the making.

For the tweens on the street, coiffed hair, blow-dried to great heights and swept into a side parting, plenty of black kohl around the eyes and pale lipstick is uniform.

In the day, it's ultra-skinny jeans with flats or stuffed into boots. At night, it's mini-dresses, skin-tight shiny leggings and towering heels.

It's a look in which Jade Jagger's tween daughters, Amba and Assisi, are expert and one that my own tween cousins adore.

Their Facebook pages are adorned with self-portrait photos in various outfits.

Every picture has the over-practised confident pose: head cocked on one side, hand on hip and a perfected pout.

And each photo provokes a stream of compliments. "You look amazing." "This should be censored." "Gorgeous." "You look so pretty x love you x." "Beautiful." "Just so wonderful."

And with that sort of affirmation, what tween wouldn't feel they could rule the world?

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