Human development research paper
The film “My Girl” (1991) tells the story of Vada Sultenfuss, 11-year-old girl who experiences various aspects of adolescents’ life. Through the eyes of Hollywood, she encounters phases of physical growth, traumatic experiences, relational changes, and aspects of puberty. Vada lives with her job-oriented father and dementia-ridden grandmother in a funeral parlor. Fascinating rudiments of the film are Vada’s obsession with disease and death. Vada is so hypochondriac and have many strange misconceptions about death, life-changing experiences, and the devastating loss of Thomas Jay and her mother.
Vada also clearly understands the unpredictability and inevitability of death; she gets preoccupied with her death with her regular visits to the doctor. Death remains part of her life as she lives in a funeral parlor. Vada further go through immeasurable complexities in the period of adolescents. She faces issues of growth spurts, sexual identity, self-concept exploration, and peer groups. The film “My Girl”, is therefore a movie about young people learning about the reality of life; growth, tragedy, innocence, and young romance. Through these life-changing experiences, the audience witnesses Vada’s physical, social, emotional, and cognitive growth. Vada learn to accept the dark side and the hurt of life. The film thus, plays full respect with an emotional and hasty ending to her loss. The beauty of the movie is in its directness, some very original and touching ones. This paper therefore, focuses on the film “My Girl”, by looking at Vada’s physical, social, emotional, and cognitive growth and development.
Human development reflection paper: physical development
Vada Sultenfuss, undergo a dramatic period of physical development during her adolescent stage. In the film, Vada is certainly not an average eleven-year-old girl having grown up with a single parent father in a funeral parlor. Physically, she is going through puberty. She does not know what to do when she realizes that she is developing breasts. However, she let her father know that one of her breasts is larger than the other one. During her menstruation cycle, she thought she was dying when she noticed blood stains in the toilet. She becomes shocked and depressed rather than feeling the pride of the transformation to womanhood like often girls do in most narratives. Puberty is thus a major salient sign during adolescence, which are very stressful (Blakemore, Burnett & Dahl, 2010). She tells Jamie Lee Curtis, Shelly’s father that it is not fair for boys not to undergo menstruation cycle, she further kicks out Thomas Jay until the menstruation period is over (Lovedieout, 2015).
As seen in Vada, the major crisis among girls is the difficulty of reconciling with the view of the new sexualized body that is different from male counterparts (Dumith, Gigante, Domingues & Kohl, 2011). Despite all the changes and experiences, Vada remains a young girl, not fully mature. Her face and body have not fully developed to a grown woman yet. Her elementary body is still growing despite the fact that he appears taller than her friend Thomas Jay. She becomes a tomboy, primarily interested in basketball, biking, and fishing (Lovedieout, 2015). Though she expresses more interest in developing into a woman one day, she asks Shelly’s father to help her put on lipstick and makeup. The development process of Vada is depicted to be somewhat young compared to that of an eleven-year-old girl, to mean she had been growing at an average rate.
Reflection paper about human development: emotional development
The film “My Girl” illustrates the aspects of emotional development, as Vada seem to be externalized in the internal emotional pain, as she does not know the manner in which she can express her feelings. This makes her emotional development quite complex. Being surrounded by death by living in a funeral home and her mothers’ death, she became obsessed and preoccupied with death. Though she has a clear understanding of the unpredictability and inevitability of mortality, she has problems and difficulties with its inclusiveness making her more preoccupied with her death as she constantly visits the doctor. She comes up with symptoms that she believes might cause her death. She does not look to be concerned about the death of those close to her. Research show that children commonly understand their personal mortality before coming to an understanding that every person dies (Walker et al. 2011). Throughout the film, she lives with guilt believing that she killed her mom when she was born. Even when Thomas died, she did not accept or believe his death as she spoke of him as if he was alive. Vada’s view of life after death was that people went to heaven. She believed that her mother in heaven would take care of Thomas Jay.
Children develop a sense of independence or autonomy as part of my emotional transition (Dishion & Tipsord, 2011) Since Vada continuously wanted her father’s attention but got nothing, she had to befriend her father’s new assistant, Shelly. Shelly made her feel loved, special, and cared for. However, she betrays her by becoming her father’s girlfriend. Vada becomes jealous because she has now lost all attention from her dad, unsure to cope with their relationship. She felt like a lone outsider than part of any elaborate sub-culture group. Vada faced feelings of anger and denial towards Shelly and her father, eventually forcing her to escape from home. Vada further developed strong feelings for her teacher, Mr. Bixler who also breaks her heart by falling in love and marrying a woman of his age. With her father and Mr. Bixler both in love, she felt neglected with no one to turn to apart from Thomas Jay, her friend. They were such good friends, but her friends bullied her for it. Vada comes to learn and understand death the moment Thomas Jay dies. She learned how to cope and move forward, giving her a great emotional development when she reconciled with Shelly and her father.
Research paper topics related to human development: cognitive development
Cognitive development among adolescence is more advanced, more complex, and more efficient manner (Haworth, Davis & Plomin, 2013). Vada show high cognitive development in the film My Girl. She appears to be mature for her age and seems to be an active learner. She has strong language skills, use well-rounded vocabulary, and able to negotiate (Dishman, Dowda, McIver, Saunders, & Pate, 2017). Vada can process information, as she understands the steps that her father and Shelly must have taken to become lovers. However, being unable to deal with the death of her mom causes behaviors and activities she cannot explain. She is intuitive and instinctive, able to see right through the walls that her father puts up (Lovedieout, 2015). Her understanding of time and space and her thought process are more complicated. Because of pain from her mother’s death and desire for attention, she exercised her independence by being rebellious by not seeking approval of her father and teacher. Vada’s ability to remember every moment of her life and childhood memory seems very detailed oriented and incredibly developed. Altogether, Vada’s cognitive state appeared to be healthy and matured for her age.
Reflection paper on human growth and development: social development
The movie My Girl begins with Vada selling tickets to tour the funeral home, by trying to scare the boys and making money off them. She becomes a protector in her group by protecting tomboys in her group. Characters of Tomboy are commonly paired with male characters because it binds femininity and masculinity, showing there are no differences between them (Dishion & Tipsord, 2011). Aykroyd, Vada’s father, is seen as a moral man, but he is unable to raise Vada in the right manner. Though he has done a good job, he does not know what to do since Vada is going through puberty. The familial structure in the film shows that Tomboyism is accepted. Vada does not have a mom or a female friend to act as her role model.
The only epitome of femininity is Shelly, a makeup artist, entrenched in romance and fashion. Vada consider Shelly to be exotic and fascinating allowing her to take the motherly role. Shelly shows Vada how to put on makeup and lipstick, reassuring her that boy will be attracted to her because she is pretty. In the next scene, vada tries to walk in an exaggerated manner, impersonating a movie star and posing for Thomas Jay. However, it seems the more she discovers her femininity, the more she will abandon her tomboy qualities to be a transformed Vada with a lovely hair in a party dress.
Academically, Vada was a star as she worked hard for everything she did to impress her teacher. Her crush on the teacher made her enroll in writing classes to enable her to see her teacher when there was no class or school was not in session. Thomas Jay. Vada’s best friend is seen confided with Vada because of a little attention from Vada’s dad. Adolescent thrived on their relationship, as both of them needed intimacy, physical support, social comparison, affection, and companionship (Dishman, Dowda, McIver, Saunders, & Pate, 2017).
The crash that Vada has on her teacher is an impossible object with no hope. She is further disgusted by the romantic novels given to her by Shelly and does not understand reasons why people get married and have sex. She kisses Thomas just to experiment if the kiss might lead to a big moment. Though nothing happens, it marked a change, as she was known ready to take someone of her age as a genuine and realistic love object. This sparked her feminine adulthood.
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