Last week I posted about the virus of the objectification of young girls and women. And something really important happened. You see, I’m a part of an amazing tribe of women here at MommaStrong. And we talk about amazing stuff in our online groups. We ask for help. We probe. We counter each other. We discuss. We tell terrible jokes. We share our adventures and our mishaps. And we hold each other accountable to the stuff that matters.
Anyway, what came out of those discussions is an essential piece of the conversation about objectification that I missed:
There is nothing wrong with princesses and swirly skirts and sparkles. This is not the target of discontent. In fact, if we focus on those things and we take them out of our kids' lives, we are asking for trouble. BIG TROUBLE. Some girls and boys - myself included - love to get dressed up and to wear fancy stuff and to feel beautiful. Saying that this is a form of objectification is going to create S H A M E around who we are and how we choose to be. If your daughter or son loves to wear giant princess dresses, go with it. Goodness knows I have gone on many muddy adventures with one or two princesses strapped in the back seat. I have even bought Barbies. I have definitely participated in our fair share of Disney stuff. Duh nuh.
Look, welcome to 2015. You can’t control the fact that your children are going to be exposed - no, surrounded - by these plastic things. Oh well.
The point is not the existence of these things, the point is what kind of influence they have on our kids. If we ignore this point, we will allow to seep into their natural tendencies and childlike interests a truly toxic side effect, which stems from consumerism and deeply entrenched sexism. So, while your child might be drawn to a Barbie book at Borders and while you may oblige her/him and buy it, you can make that purchase and that interest far less heavy and weighted by applying a different focus.
That focus has to be completely and entirely on how you drench your wee ones in the stuff that matters. That’s the work. Not calling out Disney or ridding the world of pink. It’s working your tush off to provide that focus for them while the parade of all that crap continues to grab their attention.
Which brings me back to the Part Two of last week’s post, where we discussed how to deal with the virus of objectification. The best way to do that is to fill them up with the nutrients of YOU which will make them immune to the plastic side effects eventually. I can’t tell you what this formula of nutrients is for you, because, well, it’s YOU! But, I can help you find your formula if you don’t know it:
Close your eyes. Feel your heart, your blood. Let the walls float away around you. Start listing in your head things to do, adventures to have with your kids and with each one give it a yes or no based on the following questions:
Does it make you feel expansive or constrained? Expansive, add it to your formula. Constrained, nix it and don’t look back.
Now, please don’t make this too hard. Please please don’t think too much. Don’t wish you felt constrained about something when you do. Don’t force yourself to be expansive about something when it doesn’t come naturally. Listen. Respond. Build your formula. Write it down. And get to planning.
This turns out to be a three parter. Next week, I’ll be sharing my amazing “ADVENTURE SURVIVAL KIT” - earned from many a badly planned adventure. And, yes, there is tuperware involved.