the suzi parker files

Politics, Pop Culture and Ponderings

Vampire Love Bites and Lady Gaga Eyes: Teen Trends Terrify Parents

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I used to think a teenager’s hickey was a mark of young passion: the kind that went with bruised lips from too much kissing in the front seat of their parents’ borrowed car. Urban Dictionary defines them as, “A usually dark-colored skin mark left on any part of the body after having it sucked for a long period of time.”

Thanks to the undying “Twilight” phenomena, teenagers (and, I imagine, some of the adults who have claimed their stake in Team Edward or Team Jacob,) are now indulging in biting — like wanna-be vampires. In the things-that-make-you-go-huh? category, teens are biting each other, and yes, exchanging blood, and not just on the neck. Arms, chests and even tender faces have bite marks.

“Why?” you may ask.

Vampires have invaded the United States’ culture, from the “Twilight” franchise to shows like “True Blood,” sucking in millions of viewers. Vampire fiends even have their teeth filed to look like fangs. The biting fetish only reiterates how twisted pop culture has become in daily life. It shows someone cares, teens say. (How about just passing a note, scribbled with “I like you, I care about you, BFF”?)

Teenagers told the Web site, Radical Parenting, that they bite each other for numerous reasons, including they like the “excitement” of pain. Cutting – a parental concern of years past – didn’t, well, cut it for them anymore.

They also said biting is hard core but not permanent, like piercings or tattoos, which most states prohibit for anyone under 18.

Parents naturally are concerned about biting. Where skin is broken, bacteria enters. CBS medical correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton told the New York Daily News, “Any time there’s a break in the skin, especially when you’re talking about the human mouth, it’s loaded with bacteria . . . You can set up for potentially some serious skin infections.”

(With a slim possibility of AIDS? A couple of teenagers told me, disturbingly, that no one worries about that anymore.)

Biting is considered a new status symbol that displays ownership. Historically, teenagers gave each other more discreet symbols of their love. They exchanged class rings or, once upon a time, wore boyfriends’ letter sweaters to signify commitment.

Not anymore. “OK — biting trend I have done, will do, and do,” says Chloe, 14, who lives in Little Rock. For Chloe, at least the love bites are “not based on vampirism — especially because I detest ‘Twilight.’ It just feels good and it’s a way of leaving a mark on someone you care a lot about, or getting a mark left.”

And oh, how far we have come with influences. In the 1980s, a friend dressed like Madonna every day for months, wearing lace gloves, crinoline skirts and rubber O-ring bracelets to school. In junior high, I had my Siouxsie Sioux phase of heavy black eyeliner, teased hair (green at one time) and fishnets. The big pain factor there? Those fishnets rub bad blisters with high heels.

It seemed so radical then, but so innocent now.

Today’s muse is fashionista music goddess Lady Gaga. Teenagers everywhere aspire to meet her, and be her – to the point of risking eye infections.

They ape the wide-eyed doe look Lady Gaga sports in her space-age surrealist video, “Bad Romance.” Ironically, in the song, Lady Gaga, whose eyes in the video are computer enhanced, sings, “I want your disease.” Indeed. That just may be what teens get if they wear the super-sized contact lenses that transform the wearer into a Blythe Doll.

The contacts, called “circle lenses,” have become a YouTube hit. Makeup artist Michelle Phan stars in a video, which has generated nearly 10 million hits, detailing how to create the “googly eyed” look.

To copy Lady Gaga, you need fake eyelashes, black liquid eyeliner, white eyeliner, purple and white shimmery eye shadow, along with drops of Rhoto V to both prep the eye for the contacts and to get the red out. The eye should look as ivory as an anime character. Then insert the contacts, which come in cute, sparkly containers including one featuring Hello Kitty and range from $20 to $30. Voila!

Time consuming? Yes — but so was creating new wave and goth eyes back in the day. The contacts however, which are inserted over the cornea, are not FDA-approved. Though they are easily obtained online, it is actually illegal to sell the Asian-manufactured lenses in the United States.

The one teen fad that never goes out of style, regardless of the decade, is danger. (“Rebel Without a Cause,” the first movie to accurately address teen angst, was filled with fast cars and guns.) Kids argue that biting and contact lenses are no more risky than two adult indulgences — cosmetic surgery and tattoos. Biting and contact lenses likely won’t kill anyone, but they may cost parents money for antibiotics and a doctor’s visit.

No doubt, helicopter parents are twirling over these two latest teen crazes. But kids crave edginess. They seek out danger like adults search for the latest savings at Home Depot.

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Written by suziparker1313

March 6, 2011 at 10:16 pm

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