I was checking out of Borders the other day, after having had to convince my troop that, NO, we weren’t going to get Barbie books or fancy nancy stuff or toys or princess tiaras or bedazzled stuffed animals. We were going to buy books, like books with imaginative characters and imperfect illustrations and - wait for it - where the main character is NOT a girl learning how to overcome being a girl.
There were tears.
And just as I was doing the fake mom “I got this" smile to the cashier, I looked down to my right to see my Wee One posing with her hand on her hip, her little mouth pinched into a kissy face, and her chin darting downward. You know you’ve seen the same pose. At first it’s a little cute and you’re tempted to say, “girls are so funny!” But, then, holy crap, you’re like, wait. This is a wee wrong for a Wee One. Add to this the fact that as I squatted down to shake her back into mushy tiny child stance, I saw that she was imitating with relative perfection Jada Pinkett Smith in a teensy orange bikini on the cover of Shape or Self or Loserfaceidioticstopitalready magazine.
I turned the magazine over and chuckled, trying to make light of it. She huffed and turned the magazine back over and tried the pose again.
I mean. She’s 3.
I just typed about 340 other instances of this same sort of tragic caca that I have observed since that night, but, then I decided to spare you. You know. I don’t have to detail it.
First off, it’s not cute. There’s nothing sweet about it. Let’s all agree to stop thinking it’s just a phase of girldom to pose and sway and want to be princessy. It’s not. It’s a terrible feed they’ve absorbed that is completely dangerous. And I don’t care if you’re about to call me extreme or ask me if I’m gonna start burning my bra now, because I’m over it.
I’ve decided to start treating this like a virus.
We inoculate our kids against all sorts of other viruses because of the risk not only to the individual, but to the community as well. And the virus of female objectification is debilitating in its own catastrophic ways.
- It prevents a girl from pursuing her true potential
- It limits her access to equal position and pay in the professional world
- It determines her position in social environments
- It has a dramatic negative effect of her self-esteem
- It places her in greater danger for abusive domestic relationships
- It increases greatly her risk of potentially life threatening eating disorders and compulsive exercise
- It makes her more susceptible to addiction
- ETC ETC ETC
Let’s treat this like a virus. How? Well, how would the CDC tell us to prevent an outbreak of a gnarly virus:
- Prevent (inoculation, awareness)
- Isolate (wash hands, limit exposure)
- Treat (hydrate, take nutrients and antivirals)
So, to boil it down, it’s pretty easy:
- Awareness of her risk and of the virus.
- Limiting exposure when possible (it’s never really possible, but)
- Fill her up with good stuff to counteract the inevitable exposure and boost her immunity.
No, we’re not gonna rid the world of this virus. Sheltering her is not an option, nor is it a steadfast path to dealing with it. We’re not gonna claim total annihilation of the virus. But, we can still do something. Actually, we can do quite a bit. We can do enough that at some point in a girl’s life, despite the virus’s effects, she’ll be able to make a choice about how to move forward. And hopefully she’ll make a choice to become immune.
This post is really a two part-er. Next week, we'll be discussing very doable action items for items 1-3, in particular #3. Hint: It starts with "A" and ends with "VENTURE."
We got this.