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Monday, October 30, 2006
The Problem with Pretty
I am decidedly sickened. I'm really wondering what on earth is happening to the state of our young girls today. I grew up in the 80s and 90s with enough 'Girl Power' messages to make it out of adolesence relatively unscathed. Lucky for me I was taught that my worth doesn't rest in the quality of my makeup or my ability to prance around in a glittery midriff top.

My friend, Karen has an 8-year old daughter who will be turning 9 in about a month. Squeak (my nickname for her daughter) told me that she wants to have her party at Club Libby Lu, which prides itself on being "A special secret club where super fabulous girls can have makeover parties, play games, get advice, and find really cool princess paraphernalia..."

I asked the child, "Why do you want to have your party there?". She responded, "Because I can get a makeover and princess stuff with my friends so Arjay(one of her male classmates) will think ask me out". I then asked, "Is that the only way that he will like you? You're a smart cookie, I'm sure he likes that about you too" to which she said, "Well no one really likes girls who know too much, you know, ones who are real smart. And if you don't have good makeup and good clothes or look good, then you can forget it".

Hearing this really shocked me because Karen, quite the feminist, has two older daughters who have managed to avoid the self-esteem minefields and are fairly secure with themselves. These girls are able to appreciate Barbie for her fashion sense, but aren't afraid to get down with some geometry. They know that glitter doesn't always equal good. I was also disappointed to see just how brainwashed a young girl can become, just by watching the women around her.

I asked her about this, and we got into a serious dialogue about the future of young women in this country. It seems as if we're taking steps back from the advances that were made by our mothers, aunts, grandmothers, etc to make everyone see that women are capable of doing most everything that men can do. Was all of their hard work in vain? These women struggled to make sure we understood that we are worth more than whatever what's being bottled and sold at Sephora.

There's a sickening increase in cosmetic surgery, increased incidences of body dysmorphic disorder, more girls with eating disorders, fewer girls challenging academia early on, and from society at large: an overall apathy about it all.

Princess parties are great, secret clubs are great, but to be given a "makeover" at an age when you should be learning long division isn't so great. Our society has become so cosmetic surgery and image crazy, with nearly every cable channel showing it's own version of a "makeover show". We don't realize that our little girls watch our every move, so they take our obsession with looking good and make it their own. I know things have hit rock bottom when I see 12 year olds reaching for the age defying moisturizer.

I have no problem with wanting to look your best, but is it necessary to have beauty and brains be polar opposites? Why to be taken seriously do I have to be nipped, tucked, and made over? Why do my words hold less merit if I don't have perfectly coiffed hair or have on an outfit from the newest designer? How can we save our young ladies from living lives full of self-hate and disdain for all things academic?

Like the 80s club song says, "Don't make me over...."


Blogger Andy Bilodeau said...


I saw a quote from your blog in the Washington Post Express and I couldn't help but notice that you have a shared experience with the folks over at the Critical Literacy In Practice Podcast http://www.bazmakaz.com/clip/?p=48. Perhaps your readers will benefit from exposure to this podcast.

Great job.

Blogger Tasha said...

Thank you, I'll definitely be checking that site out!

Wonderful post! I love what you have to say about the way young girls are positioned these days! I actually talk about the same issue in my show which this week. Andy from the AndyCast actually shared your site with me so I'm excited to read your ramblings! :-) I'll direct my listeners to your post on next week's show.


Blogger TwentyTwo said...

Great post! I'm convinced we have achieved complete superficial status in America. I hope one of these days we open our eyes and realize what's really important and get off the bull we're so convinced is right these days.

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