At my house we have a rule that only has to be followed by one member of our family. It’s a simple rule but whenever I tell people what it is, I get “looks”.
No dresses or skirts above the knee and no shirts that allow me to see your belly button.
That is Bebe’s rule. It’s only for her. If she were blessed to have a sister (which I doubt will ever happen), then it would be her younger sister’s rule as well.
Go ahead and tell me how awful I am how much that limits her fashion choices. Go ahead. I’ll wait.
Now that you’re done, I can explain.
Sex. Is. Everywhere.
If you don’t believe me, just read this post from Chris Pascale on the obscene (pun intended) amount of sexual content our daughters are exposed to. I admit fully that when the kids were young and couldn’t read, I could care less about what they saw on the newsstands but now that they’re older and in light of certain events (none of which I’ve told you about here), I have to take my inappropriate content radar to a higher level.
Chris is right. Everywhere we turn around, sex is there. It’s in our news, in our cartoons, commercials, even on the Disney channel.
Last night I watched Sonny With a Chance on the Disney channel with Bebe and while the show was mostly innocent, two of the shows male characters had purchased a body spray that would “attract” girls. If this is a kid’s channel then why would it be necessary to have a plot that included “attracting girls”? The male characters in Sonny With a Chance seemed to love their new popularity and the fact that they were being chased by hundreds of girls. Until I went back and reread Chris’s post, it didn’t even dawn on me that on a G-rated network, sex was being marketed to my tween daughter.
When Brian and I first put the “dress rule” in place for Bebe, I wasn’t behind it 100 percent. That is until I started looking at the fashion options that are available to my daughter. Prostitutes have more options than my daughter does.
Or should I say, prostitutes and my daughter have the same options?
But I’m No Prude
I won’t pretend that sex isn’t out there. Maybe that’s why I want my daughter to be properly informed about her body and sex and why I am open to discussing it with them. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Information and knowledge is power and that last thing I want my daughter to be, when it comes to sex and making the right decisions; is powerless.
Still, I can talk to her about sex and as her mother, I can also request that she dress for her age, monitor what she is viewing, what she encounters and how she is advertised to. (You already know how I feel about THAT right?)
I don’t believe that there is anything wrong with looking your best or being attractive. What I do fear is exactly what Chris eludes to and that is where marketing and sexual innuendo advertising is going and why manufacturer’s feel it’s necessary to take our kids with it.
Maybe the advertisers who are putting this crap out there for our daughters should sit through an hour of prime time television or stand in a room full of Cosmo and Redbook magazines or even Seventeen magazine and field questions about “being hot” or why boys want to spray a cologne that will make girls chase them. Squirm in my shoes for a day.
(As someone who used to read Seventeen magazine growing up… the idea of buying it for my daughter now… makes me want to throw up a little).
Should I start in on Barbie?
I admit growing up, I had the Barbie, house, pool, dog, horse, cat, Ken, friends of Ken (because there was only Barbie. And her little sister who would have been like… JAIL BAIT for Ken but that’s another story)… I actually looked forward to Bebe having her own Barbie collection, much like Brian looked forwards to Hot Wheels in all shapes and sizes for Bug… but Hot Wheels isn’t dressing scantily and sporting a Bra size that’s inhuman.
Katja from Skimbaco Lifestyle recently posted about her mixed emotions on Barbie and I get it. I totally get it.
Like Katja, part of me wants to applaud Barbie for becoming President, launching into space, being a doctor, teacher, lawyer and every other profession that has been said women can’t do but part of me also wonders if she wasn’t doing a little stripping on the side to pay for all of those degrees.
As Katja points out…
I wonder why she is blonde, with long legs, big boobs and obsession to fashion.
It all makes sense to me now. Yes, Barbie is a branding dream come true and I mean no disrespect to the real woman who started Barbie but… with her short skirts, the addiction to blue eyeshadow, legs that “go all the way up”, and breasts that would require college savings funds to pay for, I get the need to be able to control some part of my little girl’s life. For us, the clothing that covers, or won’t cover her body is it. That was our starting point.
Again, I can completely back where Katja is coming from. Maybe becoming a mom has caused me to see things differently, I mean if Ken lusts after Barbie and all her plastic-fantasticness, the day is coming where Bebe will looked at by boys as more than her dad and I see her… and all her parts are real.
One Goal in Mind
All of this marketing seems to have just one goal in mind… to appeal to the penis. While some recent reports have suggested that sex isn’t selling anymore, it doesn’t appear that they’re looking at the right demographics. Maybe sex no longer sells when it comes to young adults and my generation because we’ve become immune to it but when you’re gearing television, videos, toys, and magazines towards the nine to twelve year old age range, sex is still a relatively undeveloped country and it’s all about exploring it. This is when kids start noticing they have a body, what it does and what others think of it.
So why not create content and markets for new generations of hyped up, “look at me”, insecure and puberty poppin little people? It’s working because those little people are eager to see it. Mesmerized by it, shocked and scared by it… and young men learn quickly that it’s good and bad to look at… and young girls have been led to believe that they need to be good but badness can be better.
Double-edged Sword No?
Rather than ignore the magazines and television spewing inappropriateness, use it as an opportunity to open the door and discuss what’s real and what’s not. What’s tasteful and what’s not. Believe it or not, even at 10, she’s already formed an opinion of it.
Educate them. Teach them this is not how real women look. The overwhelming majority of women do not act like dogs in heat behind closed doors. We are shy. We are self-conscious. It’s Okay. Bust out the pictures of Brittney Spears wearing her sweatpants if you have to (you know the one? From the tabloids with no make-up).
The way I see it, we can either go along and let our daughters get slain by the sword or we can teach her that plastic-fantasticness is not the real deal.
As Bebe grows up, we continue to discuss the “dress rule” openly and negotiate it within reason. She doesn’t always like the rule but she understands. She’s become quite good at being creative to express her own inner style without breaking our rule.