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Kacie, 16

Kacie is a self-proclaimed nerd who loves theatre, music, art, and writing. She has this to say: "there's a huge emphasis on being pretty and that everyone is pretty. I know objectively I'm not as attractive as some people, but ugly shouldn't be equal to worthless." Adults playing teens in media "promotes the idea that you have to look older to be pretty, and be pretty to be worth something. It makes me uncomfortable when an adult playing a teenager 'transforms' by taking off her glasses and letting her hair down because that's not accurate, and glasses don't make you ugly." As for her opinions on outside influence, "Seeing so many attractive young teenagers in media makes me feel very discontent because that's the industry I want to go into and I don't look like that."

Abby, 16

Abby is an optimist and a people-pleaser. She loves baking, DIYs, and watching Netflix, and she's almost always lighting up the room with her laugh. She believes "we've been conditioned to look a certain way [since childhood], and only recently is that changing." When teenagers are played by adults, "most of them are very good looking people so they set an unrealistic expectation and maturity for not-mature teenagers." She's self-conscious about "my weight, because I've been taught that being fat is bad in all aspects. The fact that a lot of stylish or trendy clothes aren't made for plus-size people makes me feel like [cute clothes] aren't meant for people like me."

Kevin, 16

Kevin is an empathetic, friendly, and supportive guy. He loves making new friends, and playing video games, because he likes being able to interact with an art form. He says misrepresentation of teenagers makes him "feel like what is portrayed is how a true teenager should act. But at the same time, it's not an equal or truthful presentation of what it's like to be teenage. Someone living through adolescence can better display the difficulties or struggles of being a teen." He's self conscious about his body image "probably from an urge to be healthy and fit as depicted in modern media," and he's "felt socially awkward in the past. Seeing movies of teens where dialogue is fluid really made me doubt my social skills."

Arianna, 16

Arianna is a very inward person, looking only to herself for help and advice most of the time. She describes herself simply as "complicated." However, she's very good at listening to others and being there for people when they need a nonjudgmental shoulder to cry on. She loves photography herself, and her newly discovered passion: nail art. She thinks "social media puts a lot of pressure on teens to be 'beautiful' and hurts our self-esteem." Seeing adults play teens in movies "makes it seem like we're supposed to look and act like adults," and to add to that, "celebrities and online influencers make it seem like everyone has to be perfect." She says "seeing other girls with perfect makeup, looking perfect, makes me self-conscious because I don't look like that." 

Samantha, 17

Sam is a very kind person who's laid-back and doesn't get angry easily. Depending on the company, she can be very silly. She loves art and can't pick a favorite medium, but also loves music and singing. Her opinion on self-esteem? "I think that most teens don't realize how beautiful they actually are and how they should be confident. Everyone is beautiful in their own way." Misrepresentation of teens has an affect on her by changing "how I think I should look, which is stupid, but I feel like this is how it affects teens the most nowadays. Like how it feels like we have to look like a model" to be accepted. She says she "used to be self-conscious and at times still am, but I've learned to love myself. Knowing other people's eyes are on you, especially in performing arts, affects how I see myself, but I am trying to be more confident and not focus on that."

Mackenzie, 15

Mackenzie is extroverted, loud, and always ready to give a hug or compliment. She loves her friends and making new ones, performing, and the fine arts. She believes "validation of beauty and healthy lifestyles should be advocated for," and adults playing teens is "fine, as long as they are portrayed properly. Being an actress I know people portray ages they aren't all the time." She's self-conscious about her loudness, "because I've been teased since childhood, both from peers and superiors."

Ellie, 16

Ellie is hardworking, goal-driven, creative, and caring, and her passions lie purely in the performing arts—dance, acting, film. She feels that "a lot of teens don't realize their full potential. I think teens overall aren't very confident but they should recognize how great they really are." Misrepresentation in media "gives teens unrealistic expectations of how we're supposed to look and it makes teens (including myself) feel bad when they don't meet these expectations created by society. I get self-conscious when I see people better off than me because then I feel insecure and want to be better."

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