Sunday, January 07, 2007

Between: a Girl's Guide to Life - Are Paris Hilton and Brittney Spears the Role Models We Want for our Girls?

An article in yesterday's Atlanta Journal Constitution reviewed Vicki Courtney's book Between: A Girl's Guide to Life (BH Publishing.)

The ages between 10 and 15 are some of the hardest for girls. Many obsess about their weight and the latest fashion trend, and aspire to be the next Paris Hilton. "At some point, parents need to say, 'Enough is enough,' " said Vicki Courtney. "The culture is robbing our girls of their girlhood — and once those years are gone, they can never get them back." Courtney also says, "The main point I try to make to parents is to insist on being a parent first and a friend later. If you haven't set boundaries for kids before they hit their teen years, you are in trouble. You will have a tween asking for seven pairs of designer jeans for $100 apiece."

This article struck a chord with me. It distresses me to see girls as young as 5 or 6 trying to imitate the "celebrities" they see on television and on other media. Our young girls are surrounded by negative forces seeming to conspire to make them develop negative self-images and encourage them to spend their childhoods dissatisfied and trying to act like little adults.

Parents must be available to be a limiting force for their girls - parents are not "friends" - they should be guides, encouragers, leaders; in short, parents. An occasional parental comment about the behavior of pop culture icons such as Paris Hilton and Brittney Spears could help young girls see the negative aspects and the shallowness of the lives of these perpetual "little girls playing dress-up." Today's young girls likely don't have the life experience to see these things for themselves and may need a parent's perspective in order to view them realistically. Children of both sexes and all ages need and WANT boundaries and guidance.

On a loosely-related note, I read somewhere about another book entitled The Body Project, by Joan Jacobs Baumberg, which examined young girls’ diaries from the 1800’s to the 1900’s. This writer found that “In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, girls’ diaries focused on ‘good works’ and perfecting the character. In the 1900’s, the diaries are fixated on ‘good looks,’ on perfecting the body.” The author writes her book as an advocate for today's girls . She believes that they are allowed dangerous sexual and relational options without the emotional maturity and life-experience to handle the various choices. They are also lacking the protective umbrella of moral guidelines and supervision provided by earlier generations.

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