I feel a conversation coming on. Yet again.
I've already had way too many conversations with my daughter well before the appropriate age. How many more times will the actions of our teenage TV stars prompt discussions on topics well before their time?
Miley Cyrus, aka "Hannah Montana" of the Disney Channel, is in the news again. Click here to see the Miley Cyrus that our young children see on their early evening tv shows. Barely recognizable to the "slutty and ready" version of Miley in this months Elle.
I already had to have "the discussion" with my daughter last year when Miley posed in Vanity Fair. Miley said the Vanity Fair spread embarrassed her. Well as a mother, it embarrassed me that I had to discuss her pose with my then 10 year-old daughter who was quite curious why a star like "Hannah Montana" would want to do such a thing.
And its not only Miley. My daughter has other teen role models like Jamie Lynn Spears from the tv show Zoey 101 on Nickelodeon. Jamie Lynn got pregnant last year -- which led to another premature discussion with my daughter about teenage sex and pregnancy. Oh and now we get to discuss Jamie Lynn's decision to not marry her boyfriend. To say nothing of the conversations I have had to have about Jamie Lynn's older sister Britney regarding drugs and mental illness.
Which makes me wonder -- what ever happened to Marcia Brady? I grew up watching the Brady Bunch and Gilligan's Island. When stars like Marcia had dramas in their personal lives, those dramas stayed in their personal lives. And on air, the Brady Bunch girls were such goody too-shoes that I could only aspire to be that well behaved.
But beyond the premature discussions, the Elle photo reveals a much larger problem: the sexualization of our teenage daughters. Our daughters are growing up seeing their teen idols judged as sexual objects. How does a parent possibly explain to a teenage girl what the Elle photo means -- and DON'T tell me they won't see it -- they will -- it's called the internet.
What are these teenage role model demonstrating to our daughters? That a girl's value is not derived from studying so she can attend a prestigious university. Or derived from practicing an instrument so she can perform in the Philharmonic. Or derived from playing team sports so she can become a professional basketball player. No. The glamor is in being scantily clad and becoming a sexual object.
This infuriates me as a parent -- as well, I imagine, it does for millions of mothers and fathers in this country. How are we supposed to raise our teenage daughters to have a positive self image when the mediums around them reflect back this sexual imagery? Who is letting us down here? Disney and Nickelodeon for allowing their teen stars to appear in this manner? Vanity Fair and Elle for encouraging underage girls to pose in a compromising position? The parents of the stars?
When do we as parents collectively put our feet down and say enough! Sexualizing our teenage girl sells, but we're not buying it!!!
Because the tragedy is that we are raising a generation of girls that view themselves as sexual objects. And so, should we be surprised by these statistics:
- 1 in 3 female teenagers in a dating relationship has feared for her physical safety;
- 1 in 2 teenagers in a serious relationship has compromised personal beliefs to please a partner; and
- 1 in 5 teenagers in a serious relationship reports having been hit, slapped, or pushed by a partner.
Where, oh where, is Marcia Brady?