Sitting in front of my computer last night, catching up on emails, and reading a detailed online article about what an "After Rapture Party" is (for those who remain after May 21st), I saw a new 'friend request' on my facebook page. I recognized the name and clicked on the picture to enlarge it. Sure enough, it was one of my daughter's classmates from school. She and another friend had posed wearing spaghetti strap camisoles holding wine glasses up to their lips with what appeared to be white wine in their glasses. I can only hope it was apple juice or sparkling cider. They were clearly trying to convey a seductive look (as much as a 12-year-old is capable of) and pass themselves off as older, sexier, and ready to party.
Mortified doesn't even begin to describe my reaction. This little girl (and yes, she is still a girl) is advertising herself on the internet very much like some of the ads you would be able to find on the back pages of any edition of Creative Loafing. At first I was angry and reached for my phone to call her dad and tattle on her. And then overwhelming sadness replaced the outrage. I remembered that she's had 'boyfriends' all the way back to fourth grade. She was given a cell phone long before any of the other kids her age and has privileges at home that are part of the reason Rachel is not allowed to spend the night at her house. She's a sweet, smart girl who refers to me as Mrs. Mom and runs to hug me every time we see each other. Maybe that's one of the reasons her facebook page bothered me so much. If she were a 'bad seed' or a bully or just plain mean maybe it would be easier to write her off. But she's not.
She's one of millions of girls in our society today (yes, my daughter included) who are being blatantly told by the media, TV, music, and movies that the only thing they are good for is sex - and they better look the part. It's everywhere, in every form of communication. Hip-hop and rap music seem to take it to an extreme but don't be fooled. It's in country music, too. And top 40. And rock. Pop artist Rhianna, who became the poster child for domestic violence about two years ago has now released a song containing the lyrics, "sticks and stones may break my bones but whips and chains excite me." What?!?!? And my kids say the same thing to me that I said to my parents: "I don't listen to the words. I just like the music." Yeah, right - as they sing every word to every song on the playlist.
Our county's school system has a dress code. Not uniforms mind you, but a certain degree of standards that must be adhered to during the school day. And I'm happy to say they are quick to enforce it. I'm also sad to note that I've actually heard parents complaining about it. Yep. Parents. Dads griping because their daughters can't wear 'booty call' shorts and Moms whining about the fact that their daughters' midriff must be covered at all times. Really? You, as a parent, are incensed because the school system is requiring your daughters to be modest? Who's drinking the Kool-Aid now?
Because of my cancer and the grueling reconstruction surgeries that followed treatment, my husband and I have become more than just acquaintances with my doctors. We've gotten to know them and have taken the opportunity to talk about a myriad of topics other than just my particular procedures. We were shocked to learn that my plastic surgeon's office does breast enhancements on girls as young as 16! My specific doctor does not, and as a whole the practice does not encourage it, but there are parents - right here in the Bible belt - giving their daughters plastic surgery procedures as high school graduation gifts. Excuse me, what planet are you from??? It's one thing for 'the world' to be telling our daughters to go to any lengths necessary to make themselves a hot mess, but it's another thing altogether for their parents to be footing the bill.
This has been my soap box for years. I've noticed even at our church - one of the largest Southern Baptist churches in the country - a growing number of girls and young women who obviously put a lot of thought into what they wear and how they wear it on Sunday. And not in a good way. It occurs to me, especially for the younger girls, that they are not old enough to drive nor hold down a job. So who is taking them shopping and who is paying for these clothes? Mom and Dad. Which means that as they are walking to the car on Sunday morning (or any other day of the week) unless Mom and Dad are blind they see what their daughters are wearing - and the message it's portraying. I for one would have been locked in my closet for 30 years if I had ever tried to dress that way, much less leave the house.
And maybe that's the key. My Mom taught me - by her example - what was appropriate. She dressed like a lady. When we went shopping together she would let me pick out what I liked. If something didn't fit properly or wasn't appropriate we would discuss the why behind the 'no'. And after we talked about it, 90% of the time it was still a 'no' but she taught me to use good judgment and good sense and to be careful what I presented to others. But here's the key: she didn't hesitate to say 'no'. My mom wasn't so obsessed with being my best friend that she stopped being a parent. And my Dad didn't use the excuse of "giving me a competitive edge" to justify allowing inappropriate behavior.
Maybe we should add a new line to the children's tune, "Oh be careful little eyes, what you see." It might go something like this:
"Oh be careful, Mom and Dad, what you buy.
Oh be careful, Mom and Dad, what you buy.
For the world is standing by and your daughter will pay the price.
Oh be careful, Mom and Dad, what you buy."