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….