Some call it “shifting baselines” while others say it is “the decay of morality” in our society. I’d like to say it’s a blip in the cultural radar screen, but I don’t think so.
As Lawrence Downes wrote in his opinion piece in the New York Times, “Middle School Girls Gone Wild,” there is a trend towards middle schoolers doing the “dirty dancing” that we never dreamed of back in the day! He writes:
“The scene is a middle school auditorium, where girls in teams of three or four are bopping to pop songs at a student talent show. Not bopping, actually, but doing elaborately choreographed re-creations of music videos, in tiny skirts or tight shorts, with bare bellies, rouged cheeks and glittery eyes.”
You might be wondering, as I did, “where are their parents?” or perhaps you had this vague feeling of being a social dinosaur… It’s not the music. It’s not even the dancing so much. It’s PARENTS allowing CHILDREN to engage in such a sexual display. I call them “children” because they are: middle schoolers are as young as 10 years old, and by the time they finish 8th grade, many are still only 13! Straight from MTV to your school’s stage, it’s allowed because it’s “self-expression.” We’re not “hopping and bopping to the crocodile rock” but instead are “Gettin bodied (Im the only one tonight gettin bodied)” with Beyonce.
These girls are, in Downes’ words, steeped in “the culture of boy-toy sexuality” of popular music culture. The parents think it’s fine? The school allows it?
I’m aghast. I’d say it doesn’t happen here in suburbia, but it does. I’ve seen the poms shake, and the cheerleaders do everything but cheer… I know what the teen norms are for what is worn at school, at the mall. I don’t live in a Christo-bubble!
The norms have changed. Little girls aren’t so girlie any more. Barbies are passe by age 5. Now the hip dolls are “BRATZ” with super made-up eyes and lips, slinky hips, and sultry clothes and attitudes. Their posture and their self-descriptions (check out their website) are decidely all grown-up. We seemed to skip from baby doll clothes to baby doll negligees in just a breath! Downes calls it “The Three Ages of Woman: first Mary-Kate, then Britney, then Courtney.”
Realize two things:
First of all, we are raising girls. We have a middle schooler and a high schooler in public school. We do not let them wear belly shirts, show cleavage down to the nipples (whether or not they have cleavage!) or prance around in tight, short clothing. We just don’t. We haven’t forbidden make-up, but perhaps since I’m not much for make up, they aren’t either. (Hey that could change… we’ll deal with it.)
Secondly, I know we are raising them up to be WOMEN in every sense of the word. I don’t want them to wear a full niqab or put on the potato sack wear of “Little House on the Prairie.” I don’t want them living in a Christian ghetto. Nor do I want to keep them in pigtails. They are growing up. Fast. And hopefully with a better self-image than being a 3-D boy magnet. (And as an aside, what do you suppose the parents of BOYS think about this? I wonder if it bothers them as it does me…)
So what can I do about it? Do I run for the copy of “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm”? Do I forbid all the music with slutty lyrics? Keep them from hearing, seeing or watching Courtney, or Janet or Beyonce?
No, it’s more practical to talk about what “modest” means (it doesn’t equal “prude” – look it up!) We offer them ideas, concepts, and Truth that lasts. We look at culture and try to see its lessons and its mis-steps. It helps that they have great role models around them at school and church. (A BIG shout-out to Sarah, Mandy, April, Dana, Jen, Christie, Kristen, Barb, and everyone I am forgetting at the moment – YOU ROCK!) But first and last, I pray. For God’s guidance. For discernment. And for ways to celebrate the women they are becoming, in every way, as God has created them to be. We throw out ideas of where they could use their talents in the workplace, in the home, in the church. We celebrate their interests and enjoy their accomplishments. We worry, cry, pray, hug and love them.
A full-time job, to be sure… easier, and not impossible with God’s help!
Jesus said: “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.” [John 15:16]
yeah. I’m up with that.
From our home to yours…