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Uptown in the News  

March 28, 2004
Chicago Tribune
Girls find statistics, fashions mix
Group checks how cash, teens flow
By Nikki Usher, Tribune staff reporter

When four teenage girls at Alternatives, Inc., a center for underprivileged and at-risk youth in Uptown, were given the opportunity to research any social issue they wanted, they chose to look at the fascination teens from low-income homes have with designer brands.

The girls spent the last six months learning about the spending habits, attitudes and influences on teens' fashion choices through Girl World, a program designed to teach young women critical-thinking skills and research methods.

"It was funny, we all agreed that we wanted to understand why teens from poor families that sometimes are on welfare or can't provide basic things still care about wearing Timberlands or Rocca Wear," said Fatimah Salami, 17, a junior at St. Ignatius College Prep.

Although the girls now have the statistics and interviews to back up what they had already believed about brand names---that they are crucial to self-esteem and acceptance by other teens even though the teens are loath to admit it---they also face another, harder question: Has their own behavior really changed?

"Teens said they see stars wear that stuff, and they think it's cool just because they see it on TV," said Robinson. "But because I know that, it doesn't mean I'm going to stop wearing it. I still think it's cute."

To view the entire article for a fee, please visit the Chicago Tribune website at www.chicagotribune.com.

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