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Brats topple Britney brigade

Los Angeles, July 13 (Reuters): Mean girls, teen girls, clean girls — a new gaggle of girls are, like, totally in this summer, relegating old favourites Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera to “so yesterday” status in the lucrative US tween market.

On movie screens, music radio and magazine covers, girls on the cusp of womanhood have become hot celebrities and thus cool role models for the 7- to 13-year-old set.

While former pop princesses Britney and Christina have established themselves as adult sex kittens, actors Hilary Duff, Lindsay Lohan, Alexa Vega, Raven, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen and Anne Hathaway seem happy to navigate the minefield of growing up.

Already fabulously rich and impossibly pretty, these teenage drama queens have lives with a fairy-tale quality that belies the everyday angst of middle-school cliques and high-school proms endured both by their screen characters and their loyal fan base.

At 16, Duff is queen bee among this new breed of teen girls. Cute, clean and savvy, she became a household name among tweens in 2001 as a klutzy middle-schooler in the Disney Channel TV series Lizzie McGuire before bringing the character to the big screen last year in The Lizzie McGuire Story.

Her first album Metamorphosis containing the breezy anthems Why Not and So Yesterday went triple platinum. A second album comes out in September.

Duff’s latest movie A Cinderella Story, opening in the US on Friday, is the latest in a series of girl movies that have turned school into cool at the box office.

Duff, who also has her own clothing line, says it is flattering rather than scary to be a role model for millions of younger girls. “If they have something they want to accomplish and they look at me and see I’m trying to fulfil my goals, that is really cool,” she said in an interview.

Ironically, Duff hasn’t been to school since starting work on Lizzie McGuire when she was taught one on one by a tutor. Not that she’s losing any sleep over it. “I’ve been to, like, school dances but it was never any fun because I didn’t, like, know many people there and I’d think what am I doing there' I don’t think I miss it., ” she said.

Lindsay Lohan rivals Duff as one of Hollywood’s most sought-after young stars after following up last year’s Freaky Friday success with Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen and the high-school clique comedy Mean Girls in early 2004.

Lohan, who turned 18 in July, appears to have managed an easier transition from child star than twins Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. The recent 18th birthday of the wide-eyed celebrity twins was marred by the flop of their coy first feature film New York Minute and Mary-Kate’s admission to a clinic for anorexia treatment.

In June, at the age of 17, Lohan became the youngest person to host an MTV Movie Award show, won the MTV movie award for breakthrough female performance and has just released her first single I Decide with an album to follow.

Alexa Vega, 15, has graduated from the Spy Kids movie series to star as a mixed-up middle schooler in the girl comedy Sleepover. Raven, 18, is wowing Disney Channel fans with her own school-based TV series That’s So Raven.

Comparative old ladies Mandy Moore, 20, and Anne Hathaway, 21, star as troubled teens in Chasing Liberty, Saved, and Ella Enchanted and the forthcoming Princess Diaries 2, respectively.

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