"I do get called a b*tch quite often. What I don't get called is pushover, stupid, sweetheart, dear or doormat. Works for me." ~ Unknown.
I am a little behind on getting this note out to all of you; it's been quite a roller coaster ride of emotions in this house, and I have been thinking quite a bit about how I wanted to begin this note, and how I wanted to end it. Life has supplied me with perfect examples for the blog, so I will write about what I know. My dad offered that as fodder for writing, years ago, and I have drawn upon it since.
A few days ago, I believed I had the perfect idea; to write about how girls, especially teens, view themselves in a negative light, especially where it comes to body proportions and size. I believed, in my heart, that I could write this and bring in personal experience, to share with you things that I normally would not share. But Life, being Life, offered me an even better example of what girl power really is, and so I will offer you something that is much more meaty, hearty, and might touch a nerve for some of you. But it's for real; that I can assure you. As a good number of you know, that's what I am all about - it's how I roll.
When I was younger, I was led to believe that a woman's place was in the home, in the kitchen, taking care of the children. I always felt annoyed about that; I never believed that a fair Universe would allow women to be placed in such a subservient position when they apparently were slated to bear future generations. I believed that would allow them to be stronger, physically, than a man. To be able to multitask, to be able to think on their feet, to be able to handle a job, a career, a household, and a family, as well as a husband, was a sign of true strength, and I could not believe that the only career opportunities for women to follow were in nursing, teaching, or the secretarial pool. That never sat well with me. I felt a woman had the power to be a basketball player, a coach, a politician, the president of a corporation, anything she wanted to be, because a woman is strong. I watched my mother; she doesn't believe in her own strength, but she is a powerhouse when she wants to be.
Because of a changing attitude by society, especially towards women on the whole, I am grateful that I have been part of a changing society that has seen this dream to fruition.
I believed then, and continue to do so, that a woman had just as much strength, if not more, within herself, to become anything she wanted to become. I instill that belief in my daughter on a daily basis, and have done so, since she was quite young.
However, our girls are vulnerable. They feel weak, taken advantage of by a society that is dominated by insecurity and fear of the feminine. I am referring to our teens as the vulnerable parts of our society. The mirror is their enemy. Any bobble in weight, to the left or to the right, causes them to begin to fear that they are less attractive to the world. Which causes them to feel less valuable. Marketing tactics, as well as the onslaught of "beauty" from the world of entertainment, highlights this, and causes teenage girls to believe in an unattainable and unrealistic figure, and to believe that in order to be accepted in life, they must look cachectic, they must give their bodies over to a guy to keep him, and they must tolerate abuse in any shape or form in order to have social acceptance. This belief is wrong, and we must change this way of thinking. We are making great strides in helping our teenage girls to feel empowered, but apparently, certain entertainment venues are trying to squash this idea.
I was listening to the lyrics in a song the other day, and I kept hearing, "you is on the GROUND, B*TCH", which instilled such rage in me that I turned the song off. I asked my 17 year old daughter what made this such a "good song". Her answer was, "It has a good beat." What she fails to realize is that those lyrics have already been supplanted into her young and impressionable brain. At some point, she will begin to believe what she hears in these songs. That is what frightens me; girls these days are being bullied now in songs. Radio stations continue to play such garbage, and it slowly begins to degrade women and society all the more. Where is the justice Who is policing these record moguls And why do we have to believe that "sex and violence" sell? Brutality of any kind should absolutely NEVER be tolerated. Why are record companies continuing to sell such lies to the public? Do we honestly believe them? Do our children?
Our girls are our future, just as all children are our future. It is time for us, as parents, to begin the task of pointing out, no matter how difficult or unpopular it may be, all the negativity and issues in music, television content, in reading material that our children are subjected to. Girls have a power within, and they fear that power, because someone else tells them that it is wrong to have that power. Parents who teach their sons to keep a woman down because it is powerful to do so will turn out such delinquents on our female children, and these females will never be the same after an experience of this magnitude. Parents of all children must be teaching tolerance for all, allowing people to be who they are, unless they are being hurt. I realize that most of us are trying to instill this in our children, but some of us are still not getting the message, and that is what keeps us in the dark ages, so to speak.
Our girls are told that if they are strong, willful, and have the ability to move mountains, they are b*tches. Name calling is never allowed, and it should never be tolerated. But if that is the only comeback that the world can offer to them, well, in my opinion, that is pretty damn lame. Bring it then. If I am a b*tch because I speak my truth, then so be it. I would rather be judged as such, and walk in the path of my own true power, than to allow someone to cause me to feel subservient and less than I truly am.
To be able to wield their own power, girls need to have time on their own, without someone in their lives, to truly appreciate this sentiment. It is more difficult to be able to realize this lesson while in a relationship, but it is not impossible. Know that great strides can be made when a girl walks to her own drummer and is allowed to do so without judgment.
Our girls need to experience life, to know their own true hearts, before they give themselves to someone else. They need to understand that their own power is something to be embraced, not feared. They must understand that because society allows them to be browbeaten at every turn, it is not something that they should ever permit or even tolerate. They are strong, they are wise, they are beautiful. And they have a great message to bring to this new, emerging world. That message is this (and it applies to everyone): "I do not need someone else to make me something that I already am. I am who I am, and it is enough for me. I like who I am, and I like how I look. I am perfect, exactly as I am. I am more than enough."
I am blessed to know many strong women, many strong teens, who foster this idea. They are the ones who will forge our future, who will be the ones to say, "Yes, I CAN do this, and no, you CANNOT stop me from doing it" to the music world, to the media, to those who try to keep them down. It sounds old fashioned, in this day and age, to be talking about how women need to stand up for themselves, but the issues continue to persist, and we cannot allow the lines to be compromised, not even for a quarter of an inch. We must shout out now that we will not go quietly into that good night, that we will not give up without a fight. We are women, hear us roar. We are tired of being bullied. We are sick of being called names because of our power. And we are nauseated that, after all that the womens' rights movement has done, we are still not moving forward fast enough. The feminine power is incredibly strong. We have the ability to move, to create, to dream, to be, and we should not be criticized for that.
We do not need to be rail thin to be accepted. Women have curves. Embrace those curves, girls. They are what brings you your greatest joy. You have curves in order to bear the next generation. Wear them proudly. You have curves because you are a female. You have curves because of how your body is made. It is a beautiful piece of work, crafted by an incredibly talented sculptor, and you must be grateful for it. Our bodies are our temples, our homes. To hate that which is your own is to hate every single thing about yourself, so take care not to hate your bodies. Love them. We must not allow what the entertainment world deems as "beautiful" to dictate how we should look, or to influence us into emaciation, sunken cheeks dull and lifeless, in order to be socially accepted. Girls come in all shapes and sizes. And they are all beautiful.
As adults, we continue to guide our youth through the tunnels of darkness to bring them to the light of their own adulthood. May we, as parents, guide our girls, to let them know how perfect they truly are, just the way they are. They do not have to look like Lindsay Lohan, or anybody else in the media, in order to be considered beautiful. Beauty is not skin deep, as the saying goes. It resides within. It is something to be nourished, fed daily, in order to have it spring eternal and allow others to experience it. Girls do not have to tolerate abuse in order to maintain a relationship. They are not the only ones to do the work in a relationship, either. Girls have power that should never be squashed. It should be freed, rather, to be shared with the world, like a butterfly that has been set free from a cocoon. It can then light upon the shoulder of society, and whisper upon a soft breeze, "I am woman. I am strong, and I am beautiful."
One of the greatest shows that my daughter and I used to watch together when she was younger was, "The Powerpuff Girls." My favorite character was "Buttercup"; she was strong, fierce, and was fully aware of her own power. I used to have the doll hung from my rear view mirror in my truck, in order to inspire my daughter with the idea that "Buttercup" was a great role model. "Buttercup" helped my daughter to achieve her black belt in karate. "Buttercup" was kickass. If you Google "girl power", you will be flooded with images of "Buttercup". Another great role model from TV and film is "Belle" from "Beauty and the Beast". Belle was a favorite of ours because she read books, she was intelligent, she spoke her mind, and she did not accept bullying on any terms. "Mulan" fought against the Huns, in order to achieve her goal, which was to protect her father, and instead, she ended up protecting a nation. These are stories, true, but they are empowering for our girls. May we always empower our female youth by instilling in them the characteristics of leadership, compassion, strength, love and hope. May we assist them, always, to accept themselves, exactly as they are, so that they may move forward and live their lives without fear, without media influence, without bullying from society and from those who fear the power of a woman. Accept what is; we are here, not to cook and clean, not to be treated as chattel, but to share in the load, to be strong, to carry on. And we are not backing down. Not for one single minute. We don't need to be "sexy" or "ultrathin" in order to be accepted. We are sexy when we step into that which is ourselves. Go, girls!