Final Project: Impact of Fashion Choices on Adolescence

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Pretty Little Liars, ABC Channel Tuesday nights @ 8

English 331 Special Topics: Film & Media in the Secondary

Professor Timothy Shea, Ph. D.

By: Gabrielle Searcy

Peers have just as must affect on children, as do their parents. Children learn by watching others, young or old; they will suck it up like a sponge.

Fashion. Choice. The world of clothing and “What Do I wear?” is just that, a choice. Everyone has the ability to make the final decision about what they wear, everyday. The world is full of influences: every billboard telling us to smoke, every model telling us to be thin and every milk commercial telling us to drink up. Why are there people choosing to scapegoat others for something when they have a choice in the matter? It seems that Americans do not want to take things with a grain of salt and move on. Not every ad is pining us to do what is says.

Here is the problem I have with the show, while I am 25, this has no affect on myself, because I am no longer in high school, but this could affect those who still are. The girls are dressed to perfection, not a hair out of place, makeup flawless and clothes, to die for. Wearing anything from high priced Manolo Blahniks (shoes) to Gucci bags. Now at 16 or 17, living in Rosewood, a suburb in Pennsylvania, none of these girls would actually dress that way, when being chased by a killer, right? Who really dresses like this, all the time and at all hours of the day? Lets be realistic here.

Pretty Little Liars on ABC Family Channel is a show about four young high school girls, Spencer, Aria, Emily and Hannah, who are haunted by the death of their friend,
Alison. Alison died the summer before she turned 17, being buried in her own backyard, by presumably one of the girls. The storyline showcases each of the girls’ lives while they try to cope with the loss of their mutual friend and figure out who the real killer is, all while being dressed in top of the line fashion.

Adolescence and Fashion

“Of course, factors abound that may affect girls’ self-esteem, but there are good reasons to purpose that changes in body image may be crucial for understanding this trend. Body image is central to adolescent girls’ self-definition, because they have been socialized to believe that appearance is an important basis for self-evaluation and for evaluation by others (Clay, Vignoles, and Dittmar, 452). The author is correct in saying that people since the beginning of time, have turned others into peanut galleries, if you will, allowing them to be the reason people ultimately base their self-worth and looks. People have conditioned their children into believing that appearance is everything and if you do not have one characteristic then focus on emphasizing another. Adolescent girls have a body image of thin, model-like bodies that are unachievable and the models wearing the clothing are wearing the latest fashion, which is pricey.

My question for the fashion industry, “Is showcasing young women in a provocative manner on a young casted show the best way to prepare our future women of America for motherhood and the working world?” No. That is the correct answer and I won’t take another. While I agree that marketing is a good tool especially on a hit show when the ratings are good, this particular marketing scheme is not morally
suitable. The good thing about the show is they are changing their looks and price tags. The new season set to come out June 10th is showcasing a line of clothes from the store, Aeropostale. Now that doesn’t mean they won’t splurge on expensive designers, but they are making it more affordable for the average girl watching.

Makeup or Al Naturale?

While searching the web, mainly, I find that so many girls want to dress, act, and wear makeup from this show. showed me pages and pages of tutorials of girls showing other girls how to dress like them or what makeup to buy, all good and fun, but what does it say about the future women of America? I agree people should have role models but what about individualism?
Why must we aspire to be or look like someone else? Are we not enough?

“Specifically, we reasoned that girls growing up in Western cultures would become increasingly aware of sociocultural attitudes toward appearance, as a result of repeated media exposure during adolescence” (Clay, Vignoles, and Dittmar, 457).
I believe women of the future are only going to be concerned with their looks and how to get a man. While this show does have positive elements, which are catching up with the times, they are like so many other shows, not aware of the long-standing damage their image does for so many young girls. Why are people so concerned with their looks? We as Americans are always pushing to be individuals but cannot seem to break the barriers of conformity.

The video below takes place on the show Katie with one of the four main characters, of Pretty Little Liars, Emily, (Shannon Ashley Mitchell) speaking out about being “gay” on the show and the fashion sense of the show. While she does remark about how far the ABC Channel has come allowing a family to watch a show with “gays” she touches on how the show has affected her life on a positive note. I do enjoy the series, but I worry they aren’t aware of what they’re doing.

What makes a good show is simply something that challenges us and makes us want to explore more. Recently, I have come to know that shows seem to be educational in some aspect whether they are telling us to not do something or to do something, either way, they have a lesson. What about this show is beneficial and not beneficial? After reading some comments and remarks by parents, most were negative, I found a mother who allows her mature daughters to watch Pretty Little Liars. She stated that it allows an easier way for her to speak with her daughters about the topics, which are showcased on the show. She seems to think this an icebreaker for children to learn about the lessons in life and bridge the gap between hard issues.

While I do not think one way or another about this topic, I do find negatives and positives with the show, there are good reasons on both sides. Parents should exercise their parental controls on the television if they feel certain shows are not beneficial for their child.
The fashion choices on this show are too adult, I will agree with that, but things are changing and the shows are changing with the times. People need to get with the times. Why not avoid the show and let others enjoy it? If someone does not approve then do not watch the show.
“Media exposure is positively related to risk-raking behaviors and is negatively related to personal adjustment and school performance” (Roberts and Foehr, 11).
Adolescents are already exposed to too much media but then to succumb them to the ridiculous idea that they must wear what is shown on television to look “cool” is a bit sad What happened to be yourself? The media is constantly around us and all media is used constantly all day, there is not escaping it, but parents can make small changes to help their children.
The fashion choices on the show will and forever have an affect on teenagers and adults. Every show has a choice to make about the type of storyline and characters. A part of that would be their attire choice and every show will have viewers who critic them, that is what allows them to change or continue with the decisions of the show.

Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion, but it just might not affect anything in the end.

Works Cited

Cochran-Neilan, Lisa (Producer). (2010). Pretty Little Liars (Television
Series). Hollywood: Warner Bros.

Irinnicos TV Shows (2014). Pretty Little Liars Mobile Wallpaper 2
(Online Image). Retrieved April 29, 2014 from

Journal of Research on Adolescence. Daniel Clay, Vivian L. Vignoles, and Helga Dittmar. Body Image and Self-Esteem Among Adolescent Girls: Testing the Influence of Sociocultural Factors, Vol. 15, No. 4, (2005), pp. 451-477.

Katie Couric. (2014, March 14). Shay Mitchell Talks ‘Pretty Little Liars’ on ‘Katie’. Retrieved from

Missbeauty4everxo. (2012, January 2). Subscribe to my NEW Channel! Pretty Little Liars Aria Montgomery Inspired Tutorial/Outfit (collab). Retrieved from

Trends in Media Use. Donald F. Roberts and Ulla G. Foehr. The Future of Children, Vol. 18, No. 1, Children and Electronic Media (Spring, 2008), pp. 11-37.

TVPLLNEWZ. (2011, July 25). Pretty Little Liars- Ask the Pretty Little Liars Costume Designer. Retrieved from