Girl-Power

You know what drives me crazy?  I’ve mentioned it before, but I’ll say it again:  seeing a child in a movie theater watching a movie that is completely inappropriate for a child.  Why in the world are parents in such a hurry to expose their children to adult themes and images?  And I’m don’t just mean gore or sexuality . . . I think children should be protected from ideas with which adults must grapple.  I don’t want my kids to worry about things that adults worry about.  I take my job very seriously and a large part of my job is keeping my children safe, both physically and emotionally.  Thus, I guard their minds and hearts and eyes.  Judging from the local theater, not everyone thinks like me.  Shocking!  (No, really, how can that be when I am so smart and . . . well, so right?)  You might call me overprotective, but I prefer to think of myself as the protective wall between my kids and harm.
That’s one reason I appreciate the newly launched website “We Believe in Girls.” I can stand behind a site that says:

We also believe that the pressure on girls to grow up fast, to dress up “fast,” to cut the midriff shorter, pout the lips out further, pierce everything earlier — that all this mad, headlong rush toward early sophistication* may have gone a bit too far.

I believe that, too.  I want my daughter to play with dolls, to be oblivious to teenage concerns (make-up, boys, high-heels, shorts with words written across the backside!), to be as unselfconscious for as long as possible.  I don’t want her to want highlights in her hair and lipstick on her mouth and a sparkly cell phone with which to call boys until she is . . . well, twenty-three.  Or at least thirteen.  What’s the rush?

The 300 Spartans the movie

When my daughter grows up, I want her to have choices, true choices about what she wants to be and do with her life.  I  hope I can give her the tools and education and confidence to become a doctor . . . or an artist . . . or a stay-at-home mother . . . or a secretary . . . or an accountant . . . whatever she wants to become.  I want her to understand that you don’t have to do it all, be it all or have it all at the exact same time.  Life is a journey with many stops along the way . . . but if you are lucky, you choose a good companion and fill your suitcase with stuff that will help you along the way (excellent reading material, a great education, solid friends, a sturdy belief system, confidence).

Anyway, join in on the conversation.  Take the poll.  Poke around on that website and see if anything resonates with you.  I know it did with me.

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Girl-Power

12 thoughts on “Girl-Power

  1. Amy says:

    I’ve been thinking a lot lately about this very thing. Our almost 8 year old, over this past year, has let some friends go by the wayside. These friends, as it happens, are the little girls with BIG issues. Now she’s spending more time with little girls happy to be little girls.

    The other day I had to break it to her that we weren’t taking our annual vacation to Michigan. She asked why, of course, and I told her it was because of grown-up reasons. The reality was that we can’t afford it this year, but she didn’t need to know that. She was perfectly happy with our non-committal explanation, as it turns out.

    She also asks for “no choice days.” We usually offer her choices within limits: Pancakes with or without blueberries?… Health and safety are no-bargaining issues. Every month or so she asks for “little kid time.” She doesn’t have to choose a darn thing, she just has to be a kid who is taken care of.

    This whole long post just to say that in my experience, with my particular child, she CRAVES limits and protection from adult issues. For a child, figuring out the self is a full-time job. Plenty of time later to worry about money, boys, and so-called status. It will take most of her childhood for her to grow her roots so in her adulthood her branches can reach toward the sun.

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  2. I thought movies were rated in the USA even more strictly than in the UK? We’ve sometimes bought a DVD that was laballed PG (UK) and 15 (US). So how can children get into cinemas to see films rated too highly for them? In Europe (and, I assumed, elsewhere) the only films an eight-year-old could see are rated U (I think that’s G equivalent) or PG, and the latter only if accompanied by a parent. I know some 11-year-olds manage to get in to see 12-rated films, but an 8-year-old would find it difficult. And they ask for IDs for 18/R rated movies if they think someone might be under 18.

    Of course, small kids can still see inappropriate DVDs at home if their parents let them, or at friends houses… some parents just are very irresponsible 😦 We don’t have any 18-rated DVDs on principle, and our youngest son is nearly 19…

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  3. Michelle says:

    Great post, as always you’ve got me thinking.

    Since I don’t have boys (I think God knew if he sent me boys I’d ruin ’em) I’m wondering if moms of boys have the same concerns about them growing up too fast? Or is the pressure to mature just limited to girls?

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  4. I completely agree with you. Kids are way under-protected in my opinion. Why in the world would you want your child to worry about the things we as adults struggle with daily? I want my own children to be carefree and pure for as long as possible.

    I posted on my blog about the website called “Pure Fashion”. It is a wonderful website that is trying its best to change young girls thoughts of fashion from being uncovered and showing too much to being repective of their own bodies and covering up. It really gives insight and wish more people would support their efforts.

    Great post!

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  5. As the mother of a son & daughter both (thankfully) in their 20’s now, yes, the pressure for boys to “grow up”, “be a man” is just as strident as the issue is for girls. Different messages, different pressures, still..there.

    I’ve always believed in being frank with children, as frank as their age allows. I also believe that you can be frank, without being graphic.

    The balance between being protective and providing the tools our children will need to navigate the world that we’ve brought them into, is a delicate one indeed.

    Parenting, it’s not a job-it’s an adventure!

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  6. I agree, my heart sinks a little every time I see a little girl in some sort of “hoochie” outfit. Which, here in LA, is quite often.

    I am going to have to say that I blame the mothers for not setting boundaries. But who are these mothers? Every mother I see moans about the dressing and the makeup and all that, but the majority of girls seem to do all that, so there must be a bit of denial or hypocrisy going on.

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  7. I think they are right. I work harder than I ever thought possible to keep the choices simple and age-appropriate for my kid, and I appreciate any help from a like-minded group.
    Having said that, the website is run by Mattel. I’ve read enough business articles to know that Mattel is worried that Barbie will go the way of the dodo because girls are maturing out of the Barbie-age too quickly to spend the kind of money they used to. Mattel isn’t doing this out of the kindness of their collective corporate heart.
    Anyone know of groups doing this who don’t have a financial agenda?

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  8. Oh, you’d better *believe* this resonates with me.

    We have an acquaintance who’s a bit of a food purist – won’t let her children eat anything with sugar or refined stuff or trans fats, etc. She goes on and on about watching what goes into her child’s mouth, and in my head I’m thinking, “yeah, well, I guess I’m more of a purist about what goes into their head and their heart!” Not that I let my children eat junk good, but I’m not a vigilante about that, where I am about other things, like television or clothing or friends.

    I noticed that this site is by Mattel, the makers of Barbie dolls. This did give me pause, because Barbie is something we don’t let our daughter play with. I just have the standard objections to letting her develop the mind set that a chest out to here with a trim little waist and a great tan plus a set of “cool” clothes is desirable. She loves to dress and play with her dolls and Barbie does come with so many accessories though. Lately I’ve been wondering if I’m being too strict though. Have I crossed over from vigilante to Nazi? Do I need to just relax a little?

    I wish there was a doll built like a little girl with little girl clothes to offer in place of Barbie. Anyone know of one?

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  9. Michelle says:

    Keri,

    Check out http://www.onlyheartsclub.com I’ve seen them in independant toy stores and they seem like a really good alternative to Barbie.

    I also have to say that when I went to the site the fact that it was Mattel sponsored raised my eyebrow as well. However I’m all for anything that sustains childhood as long as possible for my girls.

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  10. I remember when my co-worker and I both had daughters in the 6th grade. My daughter wanted a Barbie for her birthday. My co-worker just laughed, “My GAWD! My daughter hasn’t played with Barbies in YEARS!” Then you get that little nudge, that maybe your child is a little slower than everyone else… Then a couple weeks later, said co-worker comes to work wringing her hands because above-mentioned daughter was caught in the backyard in a tent with several “older” boys. Barbies were lookin’ better all the time! LOL Just in case you’re wondering what happened to the daughters – Mine has lived in California, then moved to New York to work as a nanny, she’s living at home now, working on a college degree in interpretation for the hearing impaired and special ed teaching. The co-worker’s daughter is living away from home and will soon become an unewd mom for the first time, after being arrested numerous times for alcohol and drug infractions. Like I said… Bring on the Barbies!

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