Cutting: Tweeny Trend or Serious Problem?

Women’s social issues have been treated in programs geared towards teens for ages. Remember when DJ Tanner went on a crash diet so she could look good in a bathing suit, and then passed out on a stairclimber?
On Saved by the Bell, Elizabeth Berkley gained pre-Showgirls notoriety, for the famous Jessie Spano Caffeine Pill Breakdown (I’m so excited! I’m so scared!). Of course, Full House and SBTB were heart-warming sitcoms, where everyone learns their lesson in the end, and move away from their self-destructive behavior, never to mention anorexia, bullimia, or drug abuse ever again.
The breakout Canadian teen sensation, Degrassi, which airs in the US on The N network, covers a variety of teen issues, without the cavity-inducing sugary sweetness of the stuff we grew up on. Among the kids who dabble in drugs, alcohol, eating disorders, and bi-polar disorder, Degrassi introduced the world to Ellie Nash, who is a cutter.
I’m too old for Degrassi, but I don’t care. I’m pretty much obsessed with it. The best part about the show is that it doesn’t sweep the issues under the rug at the end of each 22-minute episode. And because the writers have the balls to “Go There.” I mean, come on: we all know the caffeine-pill incident was a stand-in for a harder drug, like speed or something, but hard drugs don’t exist at Bayside High.
I remember when the cutting craze swept my middle school. I have no idea who started it, or why it caught on, but at my school, cutting was the iPhone of the late 90’s. Everybody did it. How sick is that? Needless to say, I went through a period of self-mutilation. Before I explain, let me insist that hurting yourself is completely different from, say, suicidal tendencies. I didn’t want to die; I just wanted an outlet to relieve stress. So, when I got upset about some stupid middle-school-drama, I would sit in my room and make little cuts on my wrists or abdomen.
I know, this habit is totally lame, and morbid, and… did I mention lame? And that’s why I stopped; it was embarrassing to have to wear chunky bracelets or long sleeved shirts in the summer. When people asked what happened, I had to make up stupid excuses, and try not to look like a pseudo-goth psychopath. The “trend” at my school faded away along with flared jeans and Chumbawumba, and I grew out of my own habit.
But, there’s still a part of me that gets the urge to cut from time to time. Even though I am way to old to be relating to a fictional character like Ellie Nash, there was an episode where Ellie explains to some other troubled teen that her urge to cut is something she has to live with, not something that will go away. If I’m pissed off after a bad day at work, or stressed about an exam, sometimes I have the urge to hurt myself. It’s almost like craving a cigarette. Of course, I have healthier outlets to relieve stress, e.g. the Elliptical machine at the Y.
So, for whatever reason, cutting has been around for some time, and it is most likely to occur in teenage girls. Many of them will grow out of it, like I did, but there are cases when the habit can snowball and lead to serious outcomes. I think that shows like Degrassi do a better justice to the trials and tribulations of growing up, because we can’t all have a Zack Morris run into our bedroom and throw our problems on the floor.

Go International: New Line at Target is Grandma Fabulous
Go International: New Line at Target is Grandma Fabulous
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