Hayden Panettiere

Before she was “the cheerleader” on the hit show Heroes… before she was releasing music videos, I interviewed Hayden Panettiere and we had a conversation about celebrities as mentors- the way celebrities dress and behave themselves. At the time she told me that she’d like to stay away from being known as a “sex vixon,” instead being known as “classy.”

I think her new music video just exited “classy” and took the “sex vixon” onramp. (what the heck was the whole “pulling up her jeans” thing at :58 seconds??? Note the lyrics shortly after.)

 Here’s a peice of my October 19, 2004 conversation with Hayden.

JONATHAN: …Now tell me something. As you see other teen actors or musicians… Hillary Duff, the Olsen twins, Lindsey Lohan … Some of these girls are turning 18. There is an image that goes along with them; we’ve seen some of the same trends. What makes you different from these people?

HAYDEN: I think that they’ve got to do their own thing and I got to do mine. I want to be Hayden. I don’t want to be them. I don’t want people to think that I look like them, that I act like them, or that I dress like them. I am me and they’re them. I want to be separate. I have met them and they have always been nothing but sweet to me and I adore them … but I want to be myself. I want to do things differently.

JONATHAN: That’s neat. Now, I study the trends that kids follow and one of the biggest influence on kid’s lives these days is the media. Kids are looking at teen magazines and seeing celebrities like the ones you mentioned: The Olsons, Lindsey, Hilary … to see what they are doing. We have noticed, that as these celebrities grow up, some of them often change from “Mickey Mouse Club” to “sex vixon” …

HAYDEN: I definitely want to stay away from that. I don’t think that I would ever be the type of person that would go to a premier with tight tiny, tiny mini skirt and like a bikini top.

JONATHAN: Let’s talk about dressing for premiers for a second. For example you’ve got Anne Hathaway (Princess Diaries I and II, Ella Enchanted) … when she showed up to the School of Rock premier, she’s got this see through top on. I mean she might as well not even wear a top. Now, my daughters are 7 and 9 and they loved her in her films. And I’m thankful that they never saw the pictures from that premiere. Where do you …

HAYDEN: Personally, I am too shy. I don’t think that I could ever do that. But I think I might, you know, wear like a little belly shirt once and a while or something like that. You know, if you have the stomach for it. I wouldn’t at my age.

JONATHAN: Some other actresses and musicians have shown up on the cover of Rolling Stone wearing very little or at movie premiers with dresses that ‘shock.’ Some are highly critical of this kind of thing, others defend it. I would think that there’s a line that exists somewhere of ‘what you do and don’t do.’ Where do you draw that line?

HAYDEN: I think everyone has the freedom to wear what they want and do what they want to do. But I think they should consider what everyone else will think. Rolling Stone can be a “sexy magazine.” Personally, I wouldn’t do anything like that. I do draw the line at certain things like, ‘that skirts getting a little too short’ or ‘that top’s getting a little too tiny …’

JONATHAN: Sure.

HAYDEN: … and the clothes get less and less and when you wear certain things … I don’t want to judge anyone—they can wear what they want to wear, but I’m going to wear more conservative clothes or something a little more classy.

JONATHAN: I guess the bottom line is this: As you get, older, more popular and get even more roles, and if you know that your poster is going to be on the walls of little 8 year old girls across the country … would that make you think? Is there a responsibility that comes with this? Are you now a mentor?

HAYDEN: Personally, I think so. But for me- dressing raunchy is just not who I am. I am a little scared to say that’s not who I am, because I definitely have a rebellious side along with my more conservative side, but I would never show that through the way I dress. I can be rebellious through other ways than ‘wearing less clothes.’ It doesn’t prove that I’m more rebellious just because I wear less clothes and feel the need to walk around like that.

JONATHAN: What do you want to be known for?

HAYDEN: I’d like to be known as classy.

JONATHAN: What do you NOT want to be known for?

HAYDEN: I don’t want to be known as a party animal, or dressing trashy or …

JONATHAN: You want to be remembered for your talents and abilities rather than, “Hey, she’s the one that got caught on video doing … whatever!”

HAYDEN: Absolutely.

Sigh.

Here’s my entire 2004 interview with her.

About Jonathan McKee

president of The Source for Youth Ministry, is the author of over twenty books including the brand new If I Had a Parenting Do Over, 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid; Sex Matters; The Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket; and youth ministry books like Ministry By Teenagers; Connect; and the 10-Minute Talks series. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, TheSource4YM.com and TheSource4Parents.com. You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.
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One Response to Hayden Panettiere

  1. big John says:

    more than a culture window, this is a generational window. like it or not, our students will say things in early high school, such as ‘i’d never do that’….. but face true challenges at 17-20. they remember their quotes, feel duplicitous…but then what? how can we help the student define his/her future by that wish/goal/prayer at 15 versus that slip/fall/wilderness experience of early adulthood?