Monday, August 18, 2003

Because we were little girls once too
By Tia

Is anyone else remotely concerned about our girls? By girls I don’t mean your homies, your sistahs, you road dogs. I’m talking about your little sister, your niece, your daughter; the little girl that LOVES Lizzie McGuire and all things pink and glittery.

For the past few months, I’ve had a growing sense of apprehension in regards to the ‘tween and teen demographics. For those of you who don’t have anything to do with anyone under the age of 21, the definition of ‘tween is as follows: anyone who falls into the highly sought after age group of 9-12. Basically, ‘tween as in “between” child and teenager. The term is generally used in reference to girls. Apparently, marketing companies have found that loyalties run deep if instilled early. Thus, shows like Lizzie McGuire and toys like Bratz are being heavily pushed in the under 13 market. They have to spend that babysitting money somewhere. It might as well be on Lizzie pens, Aaron Carter bed sheets and Samantha Mumba cds. And if the name Lizzie McGuire does not ring a bell check out the Disney Channel sometime.

I spend a lot of time with the under 18 set. I mentor a little girl who just turned 14 and I volunteer with my church youth group. I also refuse to grow up and as such I spend more time than anyone without children should, watching the Disney Channel. If you’re looking for me on a Friday night odds are I’m with the youth group until about 11. After that you can find me in the club…I’m just playing. I’m at the crib because the Disney lineup from 12:00-1:30 is as follows: The Proud Family, Kim Possible and That’s So Raven. I can’t help it. I love kiddie programming. Anyway, the more I watched the more I got to thinking about my own ‘tween and teen years. And the more I thought the more concerned I became. Something was bothering me but I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was. So I began to observe. At the mall, at concerts, even at church. I began to take a long hard look at my little sisters and that’s when it hit me. Our little girls are growing up WAY TOO FAST. Don’t believe me? Take a look around. Go to the mall and count how many girls under 18 you see with a thong hanging out. Or ask you 8-year-old niece to sing “Ignition” or “In Those Jeans” or “Signs of Love Making.” And don’t think she won’t be able to do it. (And contrary to popular belief, it is NOT cute when little girls sing grown anus songs. Fast acting girls are not cute.)

I understand that our culture is ever evolving toward the grossly uninhibited state. (That may be a bit much. But I heard a**hole and god****it on basic cable yesterday at 8:30, so I’m not too far off.) But there is just something not right about a little girl who can’t even spell Sagittarius singing about all the freaky things that they can do. I also realize that little girls want to emulate the things they see in pop culture. That was okay for us. We were trying to be Wonder Woman, anyone of the sisters from the Jets and Jem. Or if you were like me, you wanted to be a Misfit…."cause we’re the Misfits/our songs are better/we are the Misfits (the Misfits)/and we’re gonna get her." If you don’t remember the Jem and the Holograms theme song you are not down. But most of the “role models” of today will have your little one looking, talking and dressing like a HO. Yeah, I said it. Lil’ Kim, Mya, Brittany and Christina, excuse me Xtina. (I didn’t make that up. At her concerts she sells posters with Xtina scrawled across the top.) Do you really want to explain to your 10-year-old why Lil’ Kim can make a can disappear in her mouth? Can you stomach the idea of that sweet little girl next door dressing like “Wo”? Don’t think she’ll do it. Think about when Brittany first hit the scene. How many girls did you see running around in that Catholic schoolgirl outfit? You didn’t think that many girls went to Catholic school, did you? Or think about how many people had that T-Boz hair cut. (Some of y’all had that cut.)

Human beings instinctively emulate what they are inundated with. Hitler knew it. Pharaoh knew it. Slave traders knew it. If you tell a group of people something enough times and cut off anything that opposes your ideals, eventually you’ll bend said groups’ mindset to your way of thinking. It’s basically divide and conquer. Our little girls are being divided from their innocence, their morals and their childhood and being conquered by destructive misogynistic lies? Why? As my hairdresser so tactfully put it, “Because we don’t give a f*** about our kids.” We let them do what they want, say what they want and wear what they want. (Yesterday, I saw a little girl who was no more that 13-years-old wearing a shirt that read “Where the hos at?” While we’re looking for people, where was yo’ mamma at when you put that shirt on?) Then we have the brazen audacity to be shocked when we see an 8-year-old drop it like it’s hot.

What a lot of us don’t realize is that we have the most say in what goes on in these girls’ lives. As parents, big sisters, aunties or just simply friends, we have a PROFOUND impact on the choices these girls make. If we mirror behavior that says, “I’m a queen” so will they. If we make wise decisions for them (and for ourselves) when they’re young, when they’re old enough to make their own decisions they’ll make wise ones. If we teach them that their bodies are not amusement park rides, everyone doesn’t get a turn, then we won’t have to worry about teaching our 14-year-old daughter how to breastfeed. If we don’t tell them they’re special, some knucklehead boy, who wants to get in their pants, will. We have to be the ones to explain to them that for others to respect you, you have to first respect yourself. We’re responsible for telling them that everyone is NOT doing it. Even though our kids spend more hours away from us than with us, at the end of the day our voices are the loudest. They can’t know WHO they are until they know WHOSE they are.

Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future

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