As I sit down to write this blog on the morning of Halloween, looking back at the month of October in teen culture feels like a bit of a whirlwind. F
To start us off, I’ll share a quick update on the VSCO girl phenomenon. The trend turned meme has now become something teens laugh at more than they buy into, but young women haven’t quite rejected the brands and styles associated with it — Crocs, Birkenstocks, oversized tee shirts, stickers on water bottles and laptops, etc. That said, fall fashion has rolled up in full force and teen girls are taking cues from Gen Z icons like Billie Eilish and her oversized clothing and edgier looks, adopting the combat boot as a go-to shoe, and of course, bringing back the beloved fall flannel.
This month brought in some big news in the world of music. First of all, Selena Gomez released new music for the first time in quite a while and there is drama. She released two singles “Lose You to Love Me” and “Look at Her Now.” Both are clearly about her rocky relationship with Justin Bieber ( who is now married to Hailey Baldwin) and both songs seem to suggest that their relationship wasn’t good for her — that she needed to lose him to love herself.
There are speculations about Hailey Baldwin retaliating against Selena to defend her husband via passive-aggressive social media posts, but Taylor Swift, one of Selena’s longtime BFFs celebrated her friend’s success and affirmed her sharing her story vulnerably through her music. If you have teen girls who enjoy Selena’s music, it might be worth talking to them about what they think of her sharing that experience in her music. It could also be a good time to ask them about what they prioritize when it comes to a romantic relationship and to talk about any signs that a relationship might not be good for them.
Also in the world of music, Kanye West made waves in the Christian world when he released his long-awaited album “Jesus Is King.” Now a quick recap on what’s been going on with Kanye… after mysteriously and abruptly canceling his “Life of Pablo” tour back in 2016, he released “Ye.” This was a short album that didn’t seem to be fully produced, but nonetheless, stuck to familiar Kanye tropes. Since then he’s only been releasing music as a collaborator with other artists, but he’s been getting attention for holding his “Sunday Services” which, from what we know, seems to be some variation of a Christian worship service often attended by high profile musicians and celebrities. Finally, after teasing the album for quite some time, Kanye released “Jesus Is King,” a full-on worship album, that doesn’t include any offensive language, but instead, 27 minutes of worship music.
A few things to note about this album. Your teens probably aren’t highly engaged with Kanye’s music or what he’s been up to — he is much more of a millennial favorite than a force for Gen Z. That being said, his influence and connections to other celebrities your teens might be interested in makes it worth paying attention to what Kanye is doing. Perhaps one of the most interesting talking points to enter into with your teens would be his interview with Zane Lowe on Apple music. In the interview, he talks about his faith and his past, including admitting to having pornography and sex addictions and finding freedom from those things through Jesus Christ. While Kanye is still very much a human being on his own journey and while I’d discourage planting a “Christian musician” label on him, now that he’s been saved and is making worship music, I’d encourage talking with your teens about what it means for them to see a celebrity speaking so boldly about their faith.
OTHER THINGS TO NOTE
Having spent quite a bit of time on music it is important to note that teens are still very much engaged, or at least aware, of efforts being made toward climate change. I’d encourage asking them whether or not they see that effort as important, why or why not, and challenge them to consider how that effort aligns with our faith and our call to care for creation. If this is a big concern for your teen support him or her by coming up with some ideas as a family as to how you can do your part in things like recycling, buying used clothes, or changing some of your consumption habits, etc.
And finally, if Teen Vogue is any indicator of where this generation is at and what they celebrate, their 21 Under 21 list provides some key insights. It is worth taking a look at who they are celebrating and highlighting as young people who are doing incredible things for the world. Not all of their efforts are consistent with Catholic teaching, but this generation is proving, once again, that they’re not passive bystanders and are committed to being part of something bigger than themselves.
The goal of this blog is to give parents information and insight into what is trending in teen culture so as to provide entry points and conversation starters as they guide their teens through modern culture. The purpose of this blog is not to condone, or approve of all aspects of teen culture but rather to inform.