Motherscribe put together a thought provoking post about some of the more sexually provocative images and products marketed toward our young daughters; and by default, or by design, our sons, too. Please check it out, here.
Coincidentally, just last week I was surfing cable TV when I saw a reality show, "Little Miss Perfect" about pageants for six year olds. You know, where moms make up their girls to look like
Fifth Avenue prostitutes little princesses?
It's a trend that the feminist in me finds troubling: Girl as pretty little impractical princess.
Motherscribe's post highlights similar but more disturbing trends aimed at girls and teenagers. The theme there? Teen girl as sexual plaything.
I kept thinking, what do we, as moms and dads, do to protect and prevent our girls from internalizing these messages? From going, "Oh cool. Buy me one, Mom?"
I don't pretend to have the answer.
I do think a healthy and nurturing homelife helps. Being a good role model is important too. Seeing a Dad who respects Mom and doesn't degrade women. Talking about healthy values that apply to girls/boys/women/men, to all human beings, in other words, is an advantage. But more specifically? I'm not really sure.
With my kids, I'm doing what I think will help. I set limits on their clothes, steering them away from provocative attire: no short skirts, no short shorts. I emphasize clothes as comfortable coverings, not showcases for our butts and boobs. I have not yet bought them skimpy bathing suits or string bikini's, aiming instead for full piece suits or tankini's. Of course, they haven't asked yet, either. This is not to say I won't buy skimpy bikinis when they are teens. Just that now, while I still
control the purse strings have influence, I talk about the value of diving without having to worry about losing their bottoms. I talk about the freedom of running around the playground without the worry of underpants showing. In other words, here is what you'll like about this choice, instead of focusing on "trashy" or "bad girl" elements, because I don't go there.
Later, I expect, we'll talk about wanting to be taken seriously by boys. Wanting boys to listen to their ideas instead of staring at their breasts. And one way to guide boys in this direction is to dress in a way that is less distracting. But I'm not there yet and know I'll have a lot to figure out.
The other "rule" is no pierced ears until they are sixteen years old. This may seem archaic, and really? It is. But, to my surprise, they haven't complained (much). I tell them that being young is a time to play rough, run fast, ride bikes, do cartwheels and climb trees. They have the rest of their lives to worry about wearing the right color earrings, finding a matching pair, losing the posts, keeping track when they spend the night away, and spending their allowance on jewelry.
With my son? I talk about respecting girls and valuing them as people with minds and ideas, with feelings and preferences, wants and needs. He has a lot of friends who are girls so I know this helps.
Is any of this working? I don't know. But...
Over the weekend our family was riding in the car when we passed a teen neighbor who had just gotten her hair dyed a bright blonde, tinged with blue. One of my daughters said, "Hey Mom, promise me something? One day when I ask to dye my hair, will you tell me no?"
I'd say, so far so good.