28 Aug 2013 5 Comments
When I found out I was pregnant a second time I decided that I didn’t want to find out the gender. We found out with our son but one reason I wanted it to be a surprise was because the idea of bringing a girl into this world scared me a bit. I knew that what ever child came out, I was going to love him or her automatically and not think twice about it, so why spend 9 months worrying.
I know this sound’s weird but maybe understanding my upbringing, can better explain it.
I lived in LA and growing up I did pageants and runway modeling as a little girl and always cared about how I looked and what others thought of me. I would dress provocatively as a teenager and loved the attention I got, especially from older guys. I was a passionate feminist who started the”Women’s Health and Issues” club in high school and believed that my lack of clothing choices was my right to “true-womenly expression.” When I went to college, I got a lot of attention from my mini skirts and low cut tops. I learned quickly that the guys wanting to “hang out” were not interested in me because of my high GPA, needless to say. In my second year of college I went through a transformation when visiting Israel (on a free trip called Birthright) and became more observant. My life took a huge turn and I started to dress and act very differently.
This past week I saw everyone on my Facebook News Feed talk about Miley Cyrus’s performace at the VMAs, so I watched it on YouTube. Something struck me hard, like a dagger through the heart and all my fears about bringing a girl into this world seemed to be starring me in the face as I watched her provocative performance.
The message she gave on stage was:
Hey Girls- If you want attention and to feel good about yourself, then you need to show off all of your body and be sexual. Make sure you do it while keeping your little girl persona (i.e dancing sexually with teddy bears and wearing your hair in pigtails) because in this porn-crazed world, men like the notion of being with little girls. That is why it is ok I dance provocatively and sexually grind up next to a much older married man on stage, who is old enough to be my dad!
It broke my heart knowing that there are parents letting their young children and teenagers watch the VMAs and look and HEAR this disgusting message. Maybe the reason it bothered me so much in seeing her act that way, was because it reminded me of a message I received from our American culture at a very young age, internalized and followed for many years. I was raised by such loving, good, whole-some parents and my many years as a teacher taught me that no matter how good you think your parenting is, the culture, what your child is exposed to and their peers play a HUGE role in who they become and how they see themselves (and their bodies).
There is a reason why commercial companies pay millions of dollars each year for advertising at the Super Bowl. Research shows us that what we see on TV and in the media makes an impression on us, influences our choices, thoughts and how we see ourselves. Thats why it drives me nuts when parents say,”Oh, my child won’t be effected by seeing sexualized/degrading messages!” WAKE UP!
So I want to say to my dear one year old daughter, please know that I feel so blessed that I have a little girl. Please remember that your self worth has nothing to do with your body or what other people think of you. Strive to be beautiful on the inside and let your true-self shine out. Let the attention you get from others not come from whats on the outside, but rather from your beautiful soul and good deeds.
And please take your time to grow up….focus on playing and getting dirty outside. Explore the world and strive to make it a better please and know that Mommy will never let you watch the VMAs
Photo credit: CCBY cdrummbks