Tuesday, March 04, 2008

A Mirror Reflection

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a birthday party Lucy attended that had a Hannah Montana theme. I felt a little bad afterward because I wrote about it in a flippant way and denigrated it, and, if someone reading this has made the call to let their little girl like Hannah Montana, I would never want to be hurtful and ungracious in my speech.

Then I had a friend email me and say something like, "Don't you think you're setting yourself up for a backlash down the road?" and yes, maybe that could be true. Some of our cousins weren't allowed to have sugar and candy. They went on vacation with us once when we were all little. My dad bought us a bag of those delicious, sugary orange slices, and our cousins, apparently crazed with years of sugar deprivation, ate most of the bag (OK, and I'm still a little bitter about that). I know there's a certain principle of denial--if you're too stringent about something, then you're just asking your kid to stage a complete rebellion and embrace it as soon as they're able.

On the other hand, there are certain battles I have to pick as a mother, and this is one of them. Oh, not just Hannah Montana per se, but fighting the insidious creeping truth in our society that a) little girls are sexualized beings and b) the outside is more important than the inside.

I read an article in the NY Times last week on this very topic. Here are a few quotes: "But today, cosmetic companies and retailers increasingly aim their sophisticated products and service packages squarely at 6- to 9-year-olds, who are being transformed into savvy beauty consumers before they’re out of elementary school... We live in a culture of insta-celebrity. Our little girls now grow up thinking they need to be ready for their close-up, lest the paparazzi arrive...At Club Libby Lu, a mall-based chain and the most mainstream of the primping party outlets, girls of any age can mix their own lip gloss and live out their pop idol fantasies. Last year, the chain did about a million makeovers in its 90 stores nationwide...Many of those were Hannah Montana makeovers, which entail donning blond wigs, makeup and concert costumes like the ones the girls’ idol wears...."

I was talking to my friend Sarah last week, and her daughter is one year older than Lucy and in kindergarten. She recently got two invitations to birthday parties: one was a My Little Pony party (perfectly fine). The other was a pajama party where the girls would be given makeovers and they would watch High School Musical. (Girls of 6 need makeovers?)

I know mothers of boys have their own parenting issues to deal with with that gender. This is what mothers of girls have to contend with. How do I bring them up to have fun (because admittedly, we love clothes and shoes and purses around here! As I type, they are dressing their Maggie Leigh doll together...) but not to cross that line? That line that tells little girls that their outer wrapping is more important than their soul? That line that tells 5- and 6-year-olds how to dress and act in order to attract the opposite sex? Yikes. Or..."Grossy" as Elaine would say.

Other people have written about this topic far more eloquently than I have. But one of the topics that is taking up my space in my brain lately (and really, these girls hog up about 97% of what's in there!) is the tricky proposition of teaching, and more importantly, modeling for them how they should live and view the world--especially as women.

The other day, I read in my quiet time about how whenever Moses came down from talking with God on the mountain, his face shone with God's reflected glory--so much so that the people were afraid, and Moses covered his face with a veil. Paul later used Moses as a reference point in 2 Cor. 3:18 "We, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit."

My most recent prayers for both myself and my girls is that when people see our faces, our lives, that they won't see brown eyes or blue eyes or dimples or the annoying glasses I've been forced to wear recently, or whatever cute (or not cute!) clothes we're wearing, but instead they'll see Jesus. In our words and our smiles, they'll see His glory. His kindness. His gentleness.

It's an ongoing process. A lifelong one, I think!


Ann-Marie said...

Okay - so I was going to smart off about Hannah Montana, but then you got all spiritual. :-) I agree with you, and I think being a mom to girls in a society that constantly tries to make girls age before they're ready, is a very difficult job.

Why, some parents even name their kids after movie characters! (snicker...)

Juliet said...

The inside is sooo important.

Loved the picture of the girls in their green dresses.

As always enjoyed our time with Darren, the girls and you.

Alysa said...

Al, This is something that has been so on my heart, too. Being intentional about this, in a world that is so un-intentional is truly difficult, BUT, worth every bit of swimming upstream. Thanks for sharing from your heart.