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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Creep!

You know, being a mother of a little girl is really stressful. Because, quite frankly, our society isn't exactly "girl-friendly". My first year as a high school teacher, I bought the book Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls by Mary Pipher--a book which I highly recommend to every parent with a daughter. This book, which asserts that girls in America today suffer deeply because of the looks-obsessed, media-saturated, "girl-poisoning" culture in which they are raised. They lose the confidence that characterized them before puberty, and become divided halves--public self and private self, real me and pretend me, authentic self and culturally scripted self. (I actually had to buy this book three different times, as it was stolen from me by several girls on the brink. I loaned it to them because I thought it was so poignant and hopeful. It was stolen from me first by an anorexic teenager, next by a self-mutilator, and then by a druggie. Long story short, don't ask to borrow this book from me. I don't have it!)

I look at my little Veevs, who is so confident, so poised, so self-assured (at age four!) and I almost ache when I think that she might endure the sadness, the self-hatred and the anger that I felt as a teenager. I often find myself watching her play, wondering what our relationship will be like ten years from now. I worry that I won't know how to help her navigate her way through this culture that tells her that her breasts are too small, her hips are too big, or that her brain isn't necessary. How will I help her to understand that being a girl--especially a girl just like her--is a wonderful thing to be? I worry that my Veevs won't know how to be a strong woman. I worry that she'll buy into what society says she should do and what she should look like and how she should feel and forget about her own brand of beauty, her independence, her feelings.

With all this in mind, consider this scene from when Veevs was just over two years old.

Veevs and I were in the kitchen. I was cooking bacon for a salad that I was going to take to a family get-together.

Rhett walked by with Spe (who was just a baby) in his arms and said jokingly, "Girls upstairs making bacon; boys downstairs watching football!"

Ivy turned to me. "What a creep!" she proclaimed, as she rolled her eyes, clearly annoyed.

Indeed.

Maybe, just maybe, she'll turn out just fine.

11 comments:

Celia and Scott said...

Power to the little people! Amen little sister!

Adrienne said...

No kidding, I lose sleep over what my kids will have to go through not too long from now! I feel completely inadequate!! But, completely unrelated, Ivy looks soooo darling and so big!! Everytime Cole hears the word "Texas" he says "That's where Ivy lives, she gave me my Backyardigan activity." You probably didn't realize the impact of the Backyardigan activity, did you?

Amy said...

with a mom like you I would not worry...all girls should moms as well adjusted as you! after all you always know what to say to those of us who are still struggling with who they really are....are you my counselor....I think slightly!

This post is very appropriate in this day and age. I remember finding out that I was having a girl and having one goal and that was to make her the most self confident girl ever...because I always did everything based on whos approval I would get.

Mandy said...

Ditto to Amy. You will make sure to keep that girl strong. You are a great example to her and I am sure you will keep that going as strong as a mom can with a teenager roaming the home! :)

Leisha said...

I am buying that book. I think about how I was when I was little. I thought I was adorable, smart and oh-so-talented. Then, I grew up. Now, I see my 4 year old and I never want her to lose those feelings about herself!

justin said...

who is this kid? what happened? soccer games? and why do you live in Texasss again? and who are you voting for? we all know the chic cant win it. and, I keep seeing herzog everywhere. is that how you spell it? you must be so proud. Did he learn his manipulation skills from you? he did admit to me that you were his favorite most influential teacher.

Josh said...

Well despite (or because of) the rough years...you rock! Miss you.

Jen said...

I don't think she can help but turn out fine with such a sterling role model mother in the house.

Jordan & Lindsey Ohlson said...

My recommendation is lots of "Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman" and Lifetime television for Women.

Texas Mommy said...

I worry about my daughter too. I really hope that she has the confidence and self esteem to keep herself feeling like the wonderful girl that she is. I struggled with all the feelings that you did and I pray that Audrey doesn't feel the way I did. I need to get that book too.

JustRandi said...

What a cutie! She'll be fine - she has a mom who is sensitive and willing to help and pay attention. I am stunned at how many of my daughters' friends just don't have real access to their moms.