story by Brittany Timmons


photos by Sarah Amato

          “Did you like see how Katie S. treated me today? She like gave me a hug and acted like everything was totally cool. I hate fake people!”
         “Ohmygod, I totally know what you mean! And after what she did to you. I can’t believe she had Ashley prank you and tell you no one wanted you to come to the party.”
         “Yeah, seriously. And come up with something better than thunder thighs. At least I don’t wear shirts that are three sizes too small for me. She’s such a ho! Did you hear she snuck off with Cali’s boyfriend during the party? NASTY!”
         “Yeah, well Cali’s a ho too. She knew I was totally into Drew and then she turned around and started dating him. When I confronted her about it she was like, ‘Ohmygod why are you making such a big deal out of this?!’ I’m like you’re the one yelling!”
         “Ew, I cant stand people who start drama! Hey-where’d you get that new skirt? That’s so hot.”
Sound like a typical conversation between two girls from MTV’s “reality” show Laguna Beach? Think again. I overheard this little talkfest going on in my very home- between my 15 year old sister and her friend.
It shouldn’t surprise me. My sister absolutely loves Laguna Beach.  She watches My Sweet Sixteen religiously. Most recently, my sister caught a severe case of Maui Fever. These shows were bound to rub off on her eventually.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am a big fan of The Hills and I know I’m not alone. Something about those annoying sixteen-year-olds whining about trying to find the perfect dress in time for their super sweet soiree that has a budget larger than the gross income of some third world countries keeps us watching. But when the drama of “reality” shows starts to ooze out of the TV screen and into the mouth of my little sis and her friends, I start to wonder if the popularity of high drama party-girl celebrities is stealing attention away from the classic socialite. 

They have Lindsay. We Had Clarissa.
My sister wants to be the ultimate “party girl.” She is the prototype of a social butterfly. Her friends always comment on her stylish attire and she never leaves the house without her hair and makeup looking perfect. No doubt about it, I like to have fun and look my best too. However, as we step out of the house, my sister and I look and act quite different. What’s the reason for this obvious contrast in presentation?
    Perhaps it’s in part that the TV characters, celebrities, and singers who topped the charts ten years ago, have changed drastically. Remember when Britney was a sweet southern bell with a cute smile and a few hit songs? Or when Topanga hung on to her virginity until her wedding night? Or when intelligent, mature DJ Tanner would forego a night out with friends to hang out with her little sisters? Fast forward to today. Britney’s bald, the kids from Boy Meets World have been replaced with the sex-obsessed drama kings and queens of Maui Fever, and DJ’s little sister is an allegedly recovering drug addict. No wonder 13-year-olds are prancing around in mini skirts and platform pumps.
         “The overall magazine images of celebrities create unreal expectations of what young girls should be,” Dr. Jeanne Heaton, director of counseling and psychological services at Ohio University, said. “Celebrities’ behaviors and looks give the illusion that this is the way to be successful as women. Girls don’t have celebrity role models who achieve anything positive that have to do with their actions.”
         It’s true that there have always been “bad girl” celebrities whose attraction derives from their sex appeal and offensive attitudes, but the images of these kinds of celebrities seem to be leading the pack today. With the advancement of technology and the internet, celebrity scandals are easily accessible, especially to the media hungry Myspace generation. Websites like and give tweens and teens ample images of their favorite celebrity femme fatales. The dangerous party-girl behaviors-sex drugs and alcohol-are at the fingertips of young, impressionable girls.
         Principal of Athens’s High School Mike Meet, has worked in high schools for 28 years. He believes technology is to blame for the more risqué dress of girls in recent years.
         “The media and television have a big impact on what girls look to for style,” Meek said. “Although technology does have a positive intent, many times it is used in a negative way. Images are more easily accessible than in the past.”
Ashlie Donvan, 15, exemplifies her generation’s celeb-obsession. Donvan has a “slight fixation” with Ms. Party Girl herself, Paris Hilton.
“I really admire her style. I love her show, and I have her perfume,” Donvan said. Her friends giggle adding that she even sounds like Paris. “Yeah I guess I do say ‘That’s hot’ a lot.”
Even though young girls may be bombarded with images of celebrities’ panty-less wardrobe mishaps and their profuse use of provocative behavior, it doesn’t mean they’re destined to expose their naked nether regions to the world as well.
“She [Hilton] is crazy!” Donvan, who doesn’t agree with the extensive party going lifestyle Ms. Hilton exemplifies, said. “She doesn’t do anything with her life.”
          Celebrity obsessions don’t always result in extreme makeovers. Julia Weisborn, Ohio University sophomore, recalls her short-lived Spice Girls obsession and although they didn’t impact her “very conservative” attire, they did impact her attitude.
“I thought I was the coolest girl around. Me and my group owned the fifth grade class and cussed up a storm! We were all about girl power and such,” Weisborn said.
 Although it seems like Britney has a strong hold on your little sis, it may be true that your influence is even stronger. Dr Heaton believes that close relations with a real life role model can definitely trump Brit’s allure. With a positive influence around them, young girls will be more likely to know the difference between reality and fake images.
“I fear that many young women idolize Paris and Lindsay,” Dr. Heaton said. “But, the extent of the negative influence would depend upon positive adult role models in the young woman's life to provide prospective and balance to what is being seen on TV and internet.”
High school sophomore, Maggie McElvenny, doesn’t think that any modern celebrity is worthy of role model status.
         “My mom and sister are my role models. They actually do something with their lives,” McElvenny said.

Class is Classic: Defining a True Socialite 
         Fashion is fleeting but class remains. The constant turn over of celebrities, each getting their 15 seconds of fame, parallels the short-lived runway rages such as spandex and Madonna-inspired cone shaped weapons…err…bras.  Translated into fashion, Paris is the leopard print spandex, and Audrey Hepburn is the little black dress. Sure, spandex is fun for a while but eventually something new and even more fun comes along and replaces it overnight whereas the little black dress has been a timeless piece decade after decade.
         When discussing this issue with Peter Bowes, BBC correspondent based in Los Angeles who has interviewed famous faces such as Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston, Bowes brought up an interesting contrast between the “Audrey Hepburn’s and Elizabeth Taylor’s in the Golden Age of Hollywood” and the party-girl celebrities of today who have a “lack of etiquette.” There does seem to be a key element of class missing among many celebrity “role models”. Why are there so few little black dresses?
         This lack of manners has trickled down into our college town abode and is apparent in the attitudes and attire of many students.
         Jodi R.R. Smith, founder of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting, believes that the biggest etiquette faux pas of college women is “not knowing basic guidelines of good behavior; from taking off baseball hats inside to disposing of gum when in class or at an interview.”
         If you don’t know the first thing about proper etiquette, the basics are a good place to start. It’s as simple as having a positive attitude, showing respect, keeping your anger under control, having good posture and proper attire. These simple little tips will be immeasurably beneficial to you.
         Once you have achieved the basics, strive to be even better.
         “You can never have too many manners. Being a lady will never go out of style,” Anna Melomud, Miss. Ohio, said.
         Good etiquette is not only a necessity in achieving socialite status; it is imperative in the job field. 
         “People generalize competence based upon observed behaviors.  Bad behavior equals [someone who is] not bright,” Smith explains. “When you have good manners, people notice you, when you have bad manners that is all people remember.
         Smith advises that to make sure you’re on point, “always act as if your grandmother was watching.” And don’t forget, your parents and future employers know how to surf the Internet too.
         Maybe if Paris would have listened to that advice she would have abstained from some of her more defamatory behaviors and not gone from celebrity sophisticate to “bad girl” poster child over night.
         Many popular celebrities seem to have a careless, party all night attitudes. They live like they are not accountable for their actions. This attitude is shared by many college students living in the unique world between childhood and adulthood. Our freedoms sometimes overpower our responsibilities, creating the illusion that our bad decisions have no effect or consequence on our life-which couldn’t be farther from the truth! As long as we can tell the difference between entertainment and real life we’ll be able to separate the true socialites from the wanna-bes.
Regardless of her Laguna inspired drama filled high school life, it seems that my fabulous little sis is already leaning the difference and is on her way to becoming the classy socialite she aspires to be.
“A socialite is a girl who likes to go to parties and be social. She’s always put together and stylish,” she said. “She wouldn’t be pictured on the cover of a magazine without her undies.”
A true socialite has substance, and a timeless charm. Aim for that and nothing can hold you back.