Raising MY Little Girl To Be MORE…

Posted in Parenting by

The opinions expressed below are mine and they are exactly that, opinions, based on my views, my truth and by no means fact. 

I want to add my voice to the debate that has been on going in blogland and the twitterverse over the last few days regarding Pamper Parties. However, the views I’m expressing below are based on the bigger picture and are not directly aimed solely at Pamper Parties but rather at the sexualization of little girls and how we’re raising our daughters.

You can read two opposing viewpoints on Pamper Parties here:

I’m inclined to agree with the views expressed in the first written piece against Pamper Parties and it’s not so much because of the Pamper Parties but rather the messages that such young girls are being bombarded with from such a young age. I think the issue at hand is far bigger than a pamper party but rather the sexualization and objectification of women and girls.

I’m totally against (for my own child) raising her in a way that she learns that being a spoiled, self-indulged, superficial, vain little madam are desirable qualities in a girl. Do Pamper Parties teach her that? In my opinion yes, because of the messages they send. That she is no more than how she looks and how she presents herself. Is this in any different to playing dress up and trying on my shoes or sneaking off to play in her room with my make up bag? Yes, in my opinion it is. One is clearly a child playing, the other is a child simulating adulthood and bringing Ava safely into adulthood is something I don’t want to rush. She has plenty of time to become a grown up, she has many years ahead of her to be encouraged to grow up and it’s not something I want to do prematurely.

lipstick little girl

 

She is only allowed to watch age appropriate TV and movies. This is something both Walter and I feel strongly about and is not something that will change any time soon. I don’t want my 10 year old being exposed to 18 rated movies, games, music.

We only listen to age appropriate music as a family, I don’t want her being exposed to the sexually explicit lyrics/profanity contained in so much of our popular music that so often lends to the idea that a woman is only an object of sexual desire.

I won’t be taking her to a Lady Gaga concert or allowing her to watch age restricted movies or attend pamper parties until I deem her old enough and emotionally mature enough to deal with the content and messages behind such activities. Will she like me because of the choices I make for her? At times, probably not. But parenting is not about winning a popularity content and  my responsibility is to raise her to be an independent, strong minded adult with a strong moral compass and I feel I would be failing her if I allowed her do to/see/dress/say as her friends do. As my own mother would say: If you friends jumped in a fire, would you jump in to?

I feel as a society, we’ve lived so long with the objectification and sexualization of women and girls that sometimes the lines blur and it’s hard to judge what will send a good positive message and what won’t or to weed out what are suitable, age appropriate messages and what is not.

As mothers of girls, we all agree that this is not a suitable image or roll model for our daughters:

pageant+girl
And we’re all quick to express our opinions and our distaste for such images and the shows that promote these values in little girls and yet, in our own lives, our daughters are bombarded with equally damaging, if not as blatantly obvious images & messages of how young girls should be. Visit the kids clothing store and the little girls area’s contain off the shoulder tops, one shouldered outfits, minidress’s and padded bra’s all for children under the age of 10!
Granted Pamper Parties, Hanna Montana and the like are not as obvious but at the end of the day, the message that they are sending our little girls is that she has to conform and has to look a certain way in order to be of value and to gain popularity.
Granted, as parents, we will never be able to control everything that our children are exposed to, but in the area’s that we do have control, we need to be establishing strong moral compasses and strong values and sense of self that are not based purely on how our daughters look.
I read a brilliant article recently on way’s we’re holding girls back and so much of it rung true for me. Most especially how we raise our daughters to believe that they are/have to be/need to be pretty to the exclusion of all else.
And it’s for that reason that I’m against Pamper Parties and the like. Because I don’t want to raise Ava to believe that the only expectation of her in life is the way she looks and how she presents herself. Of course raising her not to believe these things means that I will also have to take a long hard look at myself and the messages she gets from me and how I present myself as a woman.
But at the end of the day I’m learning that parenting is a hard job and it’s not written in stone. There is no right or wrong way, there no manual on how to raise the perfect child. The boundaries, opinions and objectives I have today could change tomorrow.
I still haven’t been able to completely and clearly articulate exactly why I feel the way I do about the sexualization and objectification of little girls, I just know that I am, for now, 100% against it, whether I’m right or wrong still remains to be seen….

 

 

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9 Comments

  • Reply tolovebella

    I appear to have been ‘misled’ when it comes to Pamper Parties / Spa Parties – clearly! I thought that “worst” thing that they do is paint each others’ nails! I didn’t realise that there are actual parties out there where makeup is involved. If that IS the case, well then Isabella can have one of those when she is 16 or 17 or 18.
    While I am still able to keep her as MY LITTLE GIRL, I will strive to do so. Children nowadays are so much grown up and cocky and stroppy and tarty than (I am 100% certain) our generation was like; and I’d really like to prevent Isabella from being too grown up.
    It’s bad enough that they grow up so quickly before our eyes! How sad that so many children in this day and age don’t get to be just that – CHILDREN.
    My mom actually made an event of the first time I wore makeup – age 13. She used to sell Vanda products, so was trained at doing makeup and taught me then and there. But there was no way that I was allowed to wear makeup often. Only on special occasions and if I felt like it, to Sunday School. She would always keep an eye on how much I applied.
    I also only really started shaving my legs when I was 13!!!! Everything happened when I turned 13!!!! Now the age is 9!!! I can’t bear it.
    Maybe I sound old or my thoughts are archaic, but my view is that you need to let kids be kids!!!!!

    August 8, 2012 at 12:53 pm
    • Reply Sharon

      Chops, you know, even if these parties were just about a little nail polish, we really do need to ask ourselves, what message is this sending little girls? Should that not be aspiring to be MORE than just a pretty, groomed woman? I want Ava to excel at sports and to know that she is clever and she can do ANYTHING she wants to do and to be SO MUCH more than just a pretty face. Of course, when she is old enough, she will be allowed to wear make up and take care of her appearance, but is it really necessary to start burdening such young girls with such a grown up requirements and in the process objectify and sexualize them? I think not!

      August 8, 2012 at 12:57 pm
  • Reply Laura

    Just for the record – the parties we do do not have make up in 🙂 They are just nail polish parties.

    Sharon – the thing is I do totally agree with you here – I do really. LOL I agree with everything except the bit about pamper parties :-p I also can see how it can be seen to be tunnel vision and that it is one part of the bigger message and picture.

    But Wenchy left a comment on my post about wanting her daughter to feel pampered – I want my daughter to feel this way too. I wasn’t raised like this at all and I find it hard to actually even go and have my hair done :-/

    I also think learning to be well groomed is a very valuable life lesson 🙂

    THANK YOU for joining in this debate – I have really enjoyed it a lot and feel our opinions have been respected. Well I hope I have made you feel I respect your opinion because I really do!

    August 8, 2012 at 1:16 pm
    • Reply Sharon

      I agree with you about wanting your daughter to feel pampered as well. My mom took me to buy my first mascara and lip gloss when I was 13 and because she didn’t want me shaving my legs she took me to a salon for leg waxing. The thing I don’t agree with is why little girls of 7,8,9 years old need to be pampered? I feel there is a time and a place for that when they’re older and can actually appreciate it. At 7,8,9 they are/should still be children and there are other ways of love bombing them then.
      Again just my opinion and I’m very pleased that this debate has not turned childish and ugly because that would be unnecessary. We’re all entitled to our opinions and to voice them in mature and adult manner.

      August 8, 2012 at 1:23 pm
  • Reply TJ

    Here I sit as a Mom of 2 boys and I have to say I really agree with what you’ve said. I never had any strong views on this because I don’t have a daughter but your motivation is so strong that I think I’ll easily be able to take on your views if I had a daughter of my own. I’d probably feel very much the same.

    My niece is 12 and even though I’m not her mother I’ve felt that many times she’d been allowed to be dressing very provocatively – not because my sister does – my sister is a tracksuit kinda woman. But the pressures from other school girls is so high these days and does start much younger. I can’t help but feel protective over my niece when she wears mini shorts and tons of make-up (she LOVES make-up).

    When she was quite a lot younger I had arrived at my Mom’s front door to see my niece dressed in my Mom’s heels, mini skirt and bikini top with loads of make-up, I remember getting SOOOO upset about it because my uncle who’s a total pig and pervert was there and they let her dress like that in front of men and especially him! I made her go and get dressed into decent clothes – but why did I , her aunt have to do that? My sister and my Mother should not have been so lenient on that and should have paid more attention! But they’re not anal like me!

    I do think Mom’s and Grannies play a very vital role and if you feel something is inappropriate – then you as the adult will tell them so – that includes not buying them short shorts, mini’s and bikinis!

    Today’s lifestyle has evolved so much that children don’t get to just be children for as long as we did. Partly because we have had to move inside into smaller houses with less outside garden space, and the only play areas most children see nowadays are ones you have to pay for.
    Perhaps pamper parties has become a ‘something to do’ for many Moms because our creativity is lacking!

    August 8, 2012 at 2:06 pm
  • Reply JulieB

    Hear hear, thumbs up, agreed.

    August 8, 2012 at 2:57 pm
  • Reply Melinda

    Hi there, I am one of the Moms that does not agree with pamper parties but feel that, as a parent, I am responsible for the image my daughter develops. If I am always concerned with my looks and “HAVE TO” go to the salon (not saying that it is a bad thing) then our daughters will naturally start young with the development of beauty routines…or if a Mom goes the other way (never grew up looking after herself, and now wants a kids that does) or a mom is the makeup/beauty industry…and many other reasons
    There is also the other argument as to how far you let a child be a child…there are Moms that a neurotic about their children being dirty, or Moms that buy “label” clothes for the children from birth….that starts creating the same “development” phase.
    I do not believe that a pamper party will singulary create a “sexual” undertone unless it is combined with numerous other factors. As a woman, whose friends were sexually active at age 11-12, and as a child abused from age 6-10, I honestly believe that a pamper party / mini skirt or make up did not contribute to the sexuality. We all came from divorced homes and lacked discipline, structure, boundaries and mostly a male figure
    Having said all of that, the reason I do not agree with pamper parties, is because, as long as I can, I want Jada not to be aware of her physical aspect…I want her to be building a ant trap, catching a frog..Fortunately I am also quite a dowdy mom, only do make up when I have too
    I just googled pamper parties in Johannesburg, and I do believe when Jada and Ava get to that age, we are going to be given a hard time…as it is a growing party request….numerous friend in JHB have had them for their kids…Guess we are going to have to be the Party Pooper Moms..(The PPM club)

    August 8, 2012 at 3:04 pm
  • Reply Melinda

    Just wanted to add that when I was younger Moms used to buy their kids the Tinkerbell make up range, along with the Peel off nail varnish..and this started when kids were as young as 4-5 years old. Moms are just doing is different these days

    August 8, 2012 at 3:07 pm
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