Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Raising Girls...not for the faint of heart!

*Note: This may offend some.  I tend to be a pretty frank, and not all appreciate it, but it’s how I roll. You’ve been warned.

So my beautiful first-born will turn 11 in December.  I am beyond grateful that my daughter, since the age of four, has been a dedicated tomboy.  I intend to encourage this to continue for as long as I can, but I’m already noticing changes. She’ll go through puberty a lot earlier than I did, and I blame that completely on my husband’s genes.  His family is lousy with beautiful women who all developed early…thanks a lot, ladies!  I’ve already braved the training bra aisle, and it went well.  However, I was really surprised and fairly upset at some of the bras in that particular section of Target. These bras were padded and had molded cups.  My daughter looked at them suspiciously and asked me, “Why would I need these?”  I replied, “You don’t.”  They were very similar to what I wear, as I am not, shall we say, buxom.  Why are they selling these bras to little girls?    Anyhow, back to my daughter…she is suddenly made entirely of legs, and they appear to start somewhere around her armpits. Her little figure is starting to emerge. It is as gorgeous as it is terrifying.  The phone is beginning to ring for her on a pretty regular basis.  She’s becoming more interested in clothes, and as she puts it, “girlish things.”  Crap. Recently we attended an event where a dress was appropriate, and she looked amazing. In her little dress, and with her hair out of her face, she looked so pretty.  We have a great girl, with a strong sense of self and a strong faith in God.  Can we completely shelter her from all bad influences, peer pressure, and a steadily disgustingly declining culture?  NOPE.

The beauty industry has always come under fire for reducing girls’ sense of self-esteem, and I was a total victim.  I can see myself, holed up in my room, obsessively poring over stacks and stacks of beauty magazines.  In the 1980’s in Los Angeles, I was the antithesis of beauty in my eyes.  Beautiful girls were tan, blond, blue eyed, clear-skinned girls with big boobs. I was a brunette, with greenish eyes that were excessively deep set, pale as a sheet of copy paper, with the body the shape of a large piece of plywood and skin with some of the worst cystic acne ever.  Yet I continued to try to change and force myself into this box of “beauty”.  Ads from the magazines were ripped out and taped onto my bedroom wall, models Paulina Porizkova, Christy Brinkley, and Cindy Crawford (a brunette crept in, apparently) were all consistently staring at me, telling me I wasn’t good enough.  I spent a small fortune on makeup, and was one of the early victims of the self-tanner called QT that turned my skin carrot orange. I was so determined that my melanin-less skin could get tan if I just wanted it badly enough, that I abused it with horrific burns that turned into blisters and irreversible sun damage.  Thinking back on it now makes me cringe.  (Yes, I still like makeup and use self-tanner...but it's better now!)

Fast forward to 2011, some 30 some years later, and the beauty pressure on little girls is still there.  Now the girls are supposed to whiten their teeth and wear shorts so tight and so short that the shorts look like they’re in pain.  However, makeup is no longer the biggest threat to our girls; it’s far more sinister than that.  It’s no longer about beauty and appearances; it is simply and completely about sex.

I can’t be the only one who has noticed that suddenly everyone on earth is talking about vaginas.  You know, I’m not a prude, I’m not easy to shock, and I’m pretty open about most things.  However…WHAT is with all the vaginas? Honestly, it seems like it’s the latest fad, the hottest accessory, the new black.  Let’s all talk about them!  Ummm, no thanks.  You can’t get away from it though, it is absolutely everywhere. My shock began with a razor/trimmer commercial.  As the lovely ladies walked through the garden, the bushes would miraculously change into well-groomed shapes.  Gee, I wonder what that meant.  I thought that was bad…until the dreadful Summer’s Eve commercials came along.  The first one I saw showed several “historical” scenes of swarthy men, battling it out through the ages, with the narration, “Men have fought for it, died for it…one might say it’s the most powerful thing on earth.”  It then cuts to a lady standing in an aisle at a store, contemplating a bottle of…something.  The narration returns, “So come on ladies, show it a little love!  Hail to the V!”  Really??  The following commercials they ran were even worse, and featured vertical talking hands (vaginas) of many different ethnicities.  It was disgusting, racist, and awful, and they were pulled off the air pretty quickly.  I’m sure their goal was to make sure we all talked about it, and here I am, talking about it.  However, I also think that they meant these ads to be empowering for women, be proud of your vagina! It isn’t empowering, it’s objectifying. We’re not women; we’re vaginas with people attached.  Lovely. What a load of crap.

Last week I saw a clip from a show that absolutely put me over the edge.  It was a clip from Dr. Oz…you know, the friendly neighborhood doctor who gives helpful health advice who took Oprah’s spot.  Yeah, that’s what I thought too.  The clip showed a grown man sliding down a pink slip-and-slide that was meant to represent…the vaginal wall.  The episode, or at least part of it, was about vaginal AGE.  Apparently, we now have to worry about them being old in addition to unruly and dirty. Dr. Oz then spoke with this poor man's wife to tell her the age of her vagina.  She was like 43...apparently, her vagina was around 74.  Dr. Oz shook his head...her poor husband, doomed to live his life stuck with a 74-year-old vagina.  No matter that people had come out of there, that’s not important.  Dr. Oz followed up today with an episode during which all the women removed their makeup, beheld how ugly they looked, and then were lectured on products they had to use to stop the aging process.  I didn't watch it. Okay, back to the main know, I give IQ tests for a living, and there’s been much talk of emotional IQ and social IQ.  I wonder if Vaginal IQ is next.  Probably not, they don't have to be smart; just available.  Dear readers, can you see what is happening here?  Vaginas are for men, they don’t belong to us. Our job is to tend to our vaginas, to groom them and clean them and present them with a bow on top. This is the message that we as a culture are sending out to our girls.  These commercials, this episode of Dr. Oz, are all on network television during the day.   What in the world has happened to us? 

Now, what I’m about to share is awful, but it’s real.  Sex is unbelievably casual these days, and our young girls are more promiscuous than ever.  Yes, we all see awful things on Dateline and try to convince ourselves that those are isolated cases.  They’re not.  Girls give out oral sex as if they’re handshakes.  You know the dreaded “freak dancing” that takes place at school dances?  I have news for you. Some of these kids are having sex at school dances.  This is not happening in the car or in the parking lot, it’s happening AT THE DANCE.  Yes, there are chaperones, but they can’t be everywhere, and the kids have gotten crafty and sneaky.  Short dresses help, especially with no underwear.  It is happening, and it’s beyond horrifying.  This is tragic.  Girls who have taken off their shoes because their heels hurt have stepped on used condoms. Girls who have “finished” are in the bathrooms, cleaning off their legs.  Don’t ask me how I know all this, I just do.  I have a theory.  All of this media, all of the slutty clothing and padded bras for little girls, all of the trashy television like “16 and pregnant” and “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” are all contributing to the whore-ification of our culture.  Our girls are growing up thinking that this is what their vaginas are FOR...they're supposed to give it up, and "show it some love" by buying unnecessary crap to keep it clean, and do kegels so as not to disappoint their men with elderly vaginas.  This is the world that has been created for our girls.  We can tell ourselves that it will never happen to our daughters, and it may not, God willing.  However, they’re going to be exposed to it one way or another, and we need to be prepared for that.  I, for one, am so scared I can’t see straight.

At this point, I’m somewhat longing for the days of  beauty magazine wallpaper, really bad makeup, and orange skin.

We must keep talking to our girls, even when they tell us to shut up and go away.  This hasn’t happened to me yet, but it probably will.  We have to talk when they look like they aren’t listening.  We have to talk to their friends and the parents of their friends.  We have to say, over and over and over again, that their worth is within their beautiful souls and not concentrated in what’s between their legs. They are smart, sensitive, creative, wonderful, beautiful creations of God.  They have NOT been put on this earth to be used by boys or men.  If they’re lucky, they’ll find a wonderful partner in life who deserves them. Keep them strong, and keep them proud.  

On a very personal, guttural, momma bear note:  To society and our media.  Keep your filthy, stinking, greedy hands and leering eyes off my daughter.  I will fight against you with every fiber of my being, and you will NOT get my girl.  Keep trying, you will not win.  If you could be reduced to a single being and I could get you into a room, I would stab you until you were dead.  Your trashy culture disgusts me. I'm more dangerous than I look, trust me. The pendulum has swung to a disgusting, dirty extreme.  Parents, we all have to hang onto the damn thing and swing it back.