There is steam coming out of my ears this morning (and this right after a post on struggling with my temper). The anger is not directed at my children, nor anyone close to me. It is aimed squarely at our culture. An amorphous shape-shifting enemy that at this moment I don’t know how to fight.
We don’t have cable TV. My children watch way too much, mind you–between DVDs, the Netflix subscription and You Tube clips, there’s plenty of consumption going on, but very little containing advertisements and what my kids watch is strictly monitored. A few years back we canceled all our glossy subscriptions except two news magazines. I have been known to rip off a cover or tear out an ad very occasionally. Yeah, I’m that kind of mother.
But of course there’s time at friends’ houses, extended family with much older cousins, and shows that are pitched to little girls but set in teenage environments. There is princess culture and Barbie dolls and imagery every which way. And I can’t keep it all out; I can’t fight every single piece of it.
My seven year old has great taste and a high level of self awareness. She’s been quite ill for that past week and probably lost about 5lbs of her none-to-spare frame. This kid is skinny! When I asked her to put on her puffy winter coat this morning (as the temperature had dropped by 20 degrees from the day before) she vociferously protested. Full melt-down, tears, the whole deal. As it turned out, the emotion was all because she thought her coat made her look too fat.
We had a talk and a hug. She’s wearing the coat and is happily off to school. I, on the other hand, am angry. And I am at a loss. A little piece of me (my inner 7 year old girl perhaps) is utterly devastated.
I discovered this documentary, Miss Representation, through various sources and it is on my must view list. I know another piece of my heart will break when I see it. Even so, it is essential. I heard Kathy LeMay (speaking at a conference this week held by Working Mother Media on Corporate and Social Responsibility) say,
this work is heartbreaking but we have to allow ourselves to feel it. We must live in the humanity of (it)… that is what leads to tectonic shifts for the world to change.”
Watch the trailer. It contains some images of women that are degrading and hard to watch, but they are important to see to contextualize what our daughters and sons are up against.
Tell me what you’re doing in the comments so I can learn from you whilst my little girl is still open enough to hear and feel the truth, and let those positive messages settle deep in her core.