What do you see when you look in the mirror?
Are you thinner, heavier, taller, shorter, better looking or not as good looking as you really are? If you really look closely, and honestly think about it, I bet you can answer that question.
Now, if you are a parent, what do you see when your child looks in the mirror? Are you able to look objectively? Do you see what you want to see? Do you see what they want you to see?
My older daughter Katie is entering that age, that dreaded age called ‘Tween.
I hold her in pretty high regard.
Even though she has a wisdom and grace of someone much older than she is, she is in no hurry to grow up.
She wants to be 10.
And that’s where the problem arises. You and I may know what 10 means; Katie may instinctively know what it means to be 10; but i find that an alarmingly large number of parents and their 10 year old she-devil children (crap! – did I just write that out loud?) have absolutely no idea what it means to be 10 – they seem to think that 10 must equal 18 and that 18 means you dress like someone who uses a pole as a prop at work.
I watch as they push their children to wear outfits and behave in ways that are far beyond their years. I roll my eyes as I walk through my town thinking I am watching a watered down version of Toddlers & Tiaras. Mind you, it is not the majority of kids, but it has been an ever growing percentage of the population as Katie has moved from kindergarten through 4th grade (yes, kindergarten is when some of these
kids parents start).
I am not a psychologist or a psychiatrist. I took one term of Psych in college (just enough to be a dangerous and diagnose myself with every psychological ailment out there) so by no means am I qualified to talk about this stuff. BUT I am the parent of two girls, one entering her ‘tweens. Maybe I’m just getting old. Maybe, horror of all horrors, I am just a little more old fashioned than I care to admit.
Or maybe, I just have a little common sense!!!
What the hell is up with parents pushing their kids to grow up? (and tangentially related – what’s up with Mariah Carey’s Lolita image for her new ad for her perfume?
CREEEEEEEEPY!!! Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for acting like you’re in your 20′s, but like you’re in your early teens? when you’re 42? Please!).
Where was I going with this?
I’m not sure.
The other day I listened as some parents talked about some of the hazards of discussing weight issues in front of their girls. The ire was directed toward the school nurse and the school I can’t pretend to understand what it is like to be a young girl with body image issues or being a mother who went through similar trials as a little girl. I can tell you that as a kid I was fully aware that I was shaped like a lollipop (huge, I mean HUGE, melon, stick body).
The discussion in and of itself didn’t bother me so much as the history behind it. This group of girls had been essentially given free reign as kindergarteners and first graders, watching shows that were essentially way beyond their years with themes that were beyond their developmental capacity to process in a healthy way.
I can’t control what they want to watch. They don’t listen. I hear that a lot. That’s like the woman who sued McDonald’s for selling Happy Meals. She said that the Happy Meals had to go because she couldn’t say no to her kids when they asked for them.
Who’s the parent again?
I am a huge fan of being fit and eating well, but I think that the images of both men and women we see in the media today are unattainable. Very few of us (if any) can look the way Brad Pitt or Britney Spears look in a magazine – truth is, neither can they.
Okay, so I’m kidding with the Brad Pitt picture, but you get it, right? I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t even recognize some of these celebrities if they went out au natural. The sad part is we’ve reached a place as a society where even those stars that are very attractive without the make-up (Beyoncé, Eva Longoria, Jessica Alba to name a few) get hammered by the public if they walk outside without.
So what’s my point? Stop blaming the schools and the State for the image issues that a generation of young women are suffering through regarding their self-image, it’s not their responsibility. It starts at home, first by taking charge as a parent of what comes in and out of the house and second through example. Encourage a healthy lifestyle, but not just in the food we eat, but in the way we move and the way we behave – a 7-year old (or a 10 or 12 or 16 year old) should not be dancing at a dance recital as if she’s been taking lessons at The “Stripper Pole” Dance Academy.
As the great Gandhi once said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
or maybe I’m just getting old.
I’ll get off of my soapbox now.