Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Little Girls

Disclaimer: We usually like to keep things light here at PST, but there are just a few topics we can’t hold back on—this is one those topics.

Earlier this year I read this post where a saddened and angered momma bear wrote an excellent piece about letting little girls (or encouraging them even) grow up too fast into super sexualized pre-teens. I don’t even have little girls yet and it made me mad! What are we thinking people! If you haven’t read the article yet, start there.

If you don’t have time here is an excerpt:
Sexy, sexy, sex, sex, sex. Everywhere. Walk by any teenage store. Half dressed pouty sexy models with hardly any clothes on, or worse yet are the giant posters with boys and girls laying all over each other with hardly any clothes on. The TV shows I hear these girls talk about watching. Parents letting their children watch! Have you paged through Seventeen magazine lately? It's not our Seventeen magazine that's for sure. TV, Hollywood, the music industry...oh barf. Pure barf all of the time. PG-13 is the new R, what a scam. Why would I want my 13 year old to see such trash let alone my 16 year old? Once it's in their minds, it's never out. It makes an impression whether they or YOU, are conscious of it or not. Every image, every act, every word, it's in their brains forever. Why would I want my children's minds filled with trash? ALL these little impressions...day in and day out...add up to a difference in the way girls view their purpose, their bodies, their sexuality. (If you have time, watch this on advertising and women....and just a tip of the iceberg.)
Think that this is a bit over the top? Consider recent occurrences in the news:
1. The T.V. show Toddlers and Tiaras on TLC where out of control parents are raising spoiled selfish divas whose main goal in life is to be the prettiest girl at the ball. Sounds like the making for great citizens and future mothers.

2. The eight year old girl who has been receiving botox injections from her mom and upper thigh waxing because hair “just isn’t lady like”

3. Abercrombie’s push-up bra bikini top for seven year olds

4. Sketcher’s shape up sneakers to help those little girls shape up their hineys while their chasing boys in the sandbox.  
5. The Playboy Mansion cameo in kids animated movies. 
6. Sexy little pony, Barbie, trolls, and Bratz dolls marketed to kids. For what reason? I like my ugly troll just fine and it never made me feel ugly!
 At what point to you draw the line? Adult women already have a hard enough time as it is getting over ideas of sexual objectification they’ve been fed for years (have no idea what I’m talking about? Read this. And this. And this.). What can we do to protect our little girls from the encroaching garbage?

I look back at some of things I used to think I needed to do and be as a teenager and I’m ashamed. I’m ashamed that I let recognition from boys and “pretty” status dictate my self-worth and interests. My little sister, who is 16 and very beautiful, recently went to the mall not dolled up and came home and cried and was depressed because there were girls there that were prettier than her. (The feminist in me was pulling out my hair). What do you think makes her feel that way?

In high school I would have blamed boys, but I don’t think men are to blame. In reality I think it’s the general message that media and industry promote. Sometimes is direct (i.e. Victoria’s Secret’s mission statement that says women are empowered when they are sexually attractive), others are not (Carl’s Jr. commercials). Men aren’t any more immune than women and unfortunately it leads to poor treatment and respect of women and general objectification. I don’t think men get this (well, some do), and unfortunately too little women have given it serious thought.

So I can’t blame men, I could try and blame the media, but that would only distance the problem and create an out for me to sit here on my laptop and complain without doing anything about it.

I’m going to blame myself. And you. It’s the environment we create every time we doll up our little girls and make them feel special only when they’re pretty pretty princesses or say that they’re too young to play with this or that juvenile toy. It's our fault when we ignore it. Remember the frog in the pot of boiling water?

I'm not one who typically jumps on a crazy bandwagon of conspiracy theorists. I'm just one who recognizes the harm this issue did in my own life and someone who wants to help my own kids (boys and girls) and those I teach figure it out sooner than I did.

Thoughts?

2 comments:

  1. Very well done, Erica! I already shared my feelings about this issue with you, but yeah, as a mom of girls, I just hope they'll buy into my theories before they buy into society's.

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  2. Thank you for writing this. I think that it is important that parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. encourage all the little girls in their lives. I think knowing who we are is a huge help with this. I also think we do need to focus on males as well. They can get set in a tight spot as well (i.e. "Big boys don't cry." Thanks for the thoughts. I really needed it.

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