Pop-Culture | Posted by Julie Z on 07/8/2009

I Know You’re Not 15


they havent been in high school since ponchos were in style

they haven't been in high school since ponchos were in style


Mean Girls. She’s the Man. Romeo + Juliet. Stick It. 10 Things I Hate About You. High School Musical 2 and 3. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Bring It On. John Tucker Must Die. Princess Diaries. Dude Where’s My Car? So, so many more. 


All of these actors are basically filing for social security and I’m still supposed to believe they’re sophomores or juniors in high school?


My question is why, if there are millions of teenage actresses and actors who are capable of starring in these movies, and who are probably more talented than some of these dumb-asses, are 30 years olds being cast as 14 years old? Note to the casting agencies: we’re not exactly fooled over here. I’m 16, not completely disillusioned.


If my eyes weren’t enough, there’s the huge disconnect when I open a magazine with the star on the cover, expecting to read about their high school experiences, because they’re portrayed as a high schooler in their newest movie, and instead read about their quicky divorce.


Why can’t they cast someone I can relate to? Why can’t they cast someone who looks like me? I know we’re told that we, as the public, can’t relate to someone who isn’t beautiful, won’t want to see them in movies, won’t care about them. But I don’t know that that’s true.


The problem is, even though I’m completely and totally aware that what I see on the screen is not what I, as a real teenager, am supposed to look like, or even could look like (some things just come with maturity), it still affects me. I’m smarter than that. But still. It’s hard to watch someone for over an hour, relate to their story, then write it off as something you shouldn’t relate to in the first place.


Bring It On—cheerleaders might still carry around that ridiculous stereotype of being beautiful…but I know that no high school cheerleader I’ve seen around here looks like Kirsten Dunst. Mean Girls—Rachel McAdams is great, but no 17 year old has that body or even that face. I mean if you really think about it, even really beautiful teenage girls don’t look like that.


We’re always talking about impossible standards of beauty in the media. Maybe if we started creating appropriate standards, even if that is casting a beautiful teenage girl instead of a beautiful 20 year old, we can change our standards just a little bit. Of course, I’d like to ultimately see the most talented girl, and the one that fits the character the best (including AGE) win the role no matter what they looked like. But I think this is a step we could probably all agree on. 

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  • Halima @ at 10:19 am, April 21st, 2009

    You are so true because these standards affect us in so many ways.
    I mean I’m really fifteen and i do think at time like is this how I’m supposed to look like. Its sad and very annoying i hope the media stops the portrayal of teenagers in this manner.
    (lol @ at the tittle, it is so true )

  • Criss @ at 4:20 pm, April 21st, 2009

    While I agree with everything you said, one reason why teen actors are not cast in there movies is probably because most teens are still in school. (I don’t know the details of child labor laws, but that could also play a part — actors under 18 may not be able to work the amount of hours required when you’re starring in a film. The schedules can be pretty grueling.)

    Breaking into acting takes time, both the time to shop for (and snag) an agent, the time and availability to jump up and fly/drive to an audition (sometimes out-of-state, and usually with about 24-hour notice), and the time to have put yourself in front of enough casting agents to get known and eventually get cast. This is probably why so many of the “stars” we see playing teens are 20+ years old.

    While some of these problems could be solved by casting agents heading down to the local high school and scouring the theater department (instead of sending out casting calls to agents), the school issue still causes a problem. I highly doubt my mother would have been cool with some studio exec asking to whisk me away to LA for 3-6 months to film a movie… in the middle of my junior year. I know some teen stars get tutors on the set to get them through the courses and they get their credits through correspondence or some other similar system, but I still think my mother would have had a problem with that, and probably many mothers feel the same way.

    Yes, studios could work around this by filming in the summer, or at least hiring 18-20-yr-old actors (as opposed to 30+). Improvements could be made.

    I agree completely on the other points though — can we get actors that look like people, not processed supermodels? My major peeve is when they get the “ugly” girl (who is a beauty with bushy eyebrows of — gasp! — glasses) and then she gets a makeover and now her life is perfect. Because we all know that you are not worth anything unless you are beautiful, right? And self-confidence is based SOLELY on physical beauty. Because we women are just bodies, nothing on the inside.


  • Hannah @ at 9:34 pm, April 21st, 2009

    I think that you make a valid point Criss
    on the other hand
    there are thousands of talented teenage girls who drop out of school solely to act.
    and there are ways to get on set tutors.

  • DavidAbstract @ at 8:58 pm, April 23rd, 2009

    Well combination of factors really – child labour / consent laws, not enough schooled actresses under 20, not enough actress with star power under 20 and so on….

    A very good point – it’s also true of male actors of course, and even more noticeably.

    But I have to say… at least you get teen movies made about you: if you male and British, forget it.

  • Andy @ at 1:44 pm, July 8th, 2009

    Lohan was 16 when she made Mean Girls. She only looks 40 now because of the drugs.

    Real shame. I thought she’d be something special.

  • RebJ @ at 9:00 pm, July 13th, 2009

    I’m just tired of the way they present “normal teenage life” on these TV serials. First of all, most teenagers are not as ridiculously polarized as they make them on TV–the same person CAN be a cheerleader and enter into the science fair (!). And I don’t know about you, but I’m not that interested in fake archetypa characters; I’d rather watch something about REAL people. And secondly, teenagers really do have more to think about other than SEX and RELATIONSHIPS and SEX. Would it really kill the makers of these shows to write a more believable script?

  • Julie Z @ at 9:18 pm, July 13th, 2009

    yeah i talk about that in “not another teen rant” as well – teenagers, being, y’know, human, often have many sides, interests, etc. i guess tv-show writers only see the raging hormones they’re advertisers are trying to sell to. which is sad, because they’re very wrong.

  • Nina @ at 5:26 pm, July 15th, 2009

    Ha! I don’t know how many times I’ve thought just that… And specifically “wow, what kind of school allows students to show up dressed like THAT??”. I’m 28, so it wasn’t THAT long ago since I was in school, and yet I don’t remember things ever looking like this when I was in school myself…

  • Emma @ at 11:22 pm, July 27th, 2009

    Totally agree! I mean, my sister’s fifteen, and she shares NO resemblance whatsoever with any of these drinking age people, nor do any of her friends.
    Ah, if only Catherine Hardwicke would see this. Apparently she wants to cast Rob Pattinson and K. Stewart as Fang and Max from the Maximum Ride series by James Patterson in the 2010 movie or something, and it’s not that they’re bad actors, but Max and Fang are fourteen.

  • ACW @ at 10:59 pm, September 11th, 2009

    I’m 32, and I admit to watching ABC Family’s ’10 Things I Hate About You’. I could say I’m doing research for when my daughters are old enough to watch teen sitcoms, but really I just adore the actress, Lindsey Shaw, and her character on this show (most of the time).
    A recurring comment of her father’s, when referring to character Patrick Verona, is “that fellow with the disturbingly deep voice”… Well, hmm. Maybe because the actor playing a 17yo boy is really 23?!
    I blame this whole trend on 90210. How many years did those ‘kids’ attend high school?! Ten?! ;)

  • Amy CT @ at 4:05 pm, September 21st, 2009

    As a fashion journalist, this strikes me as your typical “aesthetics” choice…

  • Maggie @ at 8:32 pm, October 28th, 2009

    Youth=beauty is a scary mixture. It only makes sense that with an aging population we make try to shift that paradigm… and on top of that, people mature,and do it fast, puberty is crazy, it normally wouldn’t make for a stable cast member, also, child labor laws…

    Its not that i disagree its that there are practical reasons.

  • ISZ @ at 1:34 pm, December 1st, 2009

    It’s not about creating realistic standards… it’s about creating disharmony in the mind of the consumer, a sort of uncomfortability between utopian ideals, its promise of satisfaction, and the abrasiveness of reality failing to provide, all of which is intended to get the consumer (us) to sacrifice ourselves (money) to the producers of idealistic content.

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