Monday, November 25, 2013

Hear Me Roar

Last week, my eight-year old daughter and I watched Katy Perry's "Roar" video on my smart phone. I forgot that I had forbidden her to watch pop music videos. By the end of the song, I remembered why.

At the beginning of the video, Perry and a young man are exploring the jungle. He's soon taken out of the picture by a tiger, and the rest of the video focuses on Ms.Perry's exploits. She hunts, builds herself a hut, and tames animals. I like the idea that a woman can survive on her own. But may I speak to someone in the Jungle Wardrobe Department?

By the end of the video Perry wears a grass skirt and a leopard-skin top that reveals a lot of cleavage. Granted, a woman must have appropriate clothing for the jungle heat. But let's face it -- the point of the outfit is to show off Perry's body. Maybe her curvy body helps us associate femaleness with power. Nice idea, but I'm guessing that's not what girls hear. They get a mixed message. "You can do anything you set your mind to. But your value is also tangled up in your appearance."

I guess it's progress. In my childhood, many female leads were beautiful, but helpless. Today, some of them are beautiful and powerful. Let's hope we'll continue to advance, and one day rock stars will sing in the tropics without showing so much skin. A woman who tames the jungle while keeping her dignity -- that's a real tigress.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Aiding and Abetting

Are we fighting for the enemy?

A few months ago I mentioned the issue of how we talk to young girls. I want to follow up. As parents, teachers, and friends of girls, we try to plant the right ideas in their minds. We fight the messages we grew up with, the ones that tell girls, “It’s important to be pretty.” But are we guilty of conveying the same thing? 

Have you ever greeted a child with, "Hey, pretty girl"? What happens in her mind at that moment? Does she feel good about herself? Perhaps. It’s not always bad to compliment how a girl looks.

But when the first thing out of our mouths is a statement about her appearance, a girl learns that adults think being attractive is important. These comments pile up over the years, and their weight shapes the way she thinks. Every music video and magazine rack reinforces the message. On the Internet she can hear it at the click of a mouse. “You are your physical appearance. You are female, and nothing else matters for you.”

Here’s how to fight that mindset. Let the first thing out of your mouth be a comment on her interests, not her looks.

Is she on the playground? Ask, “What’s your favorite thing to climb on?”
Are you at her school or in the public library? Ask, “What do you like to read?”

Is she your neighbor? Say, “I see you walking your dog every day. What’s your dog’s name? Do you enjoy taking care of animals?”

These questions show her that we value her and what she thinks. She’ll start to believe us when we say there is more to her than appearance. Please keep this in mind the next time you interact with a girl so we can fight the lies of the culture.

Let’s stop unintentionally aiding and abetting the enemy.