This is a complex subject for me to tackle.
One that I am finally late in my life am coming to grips with. That being that I don't need to be around any little girls. I have an unhealthy attachment to them that is.....sexualized. I admit it.
I may be using the wrong word to describe my feelings about little girls, but I can't seem to come up with a better one right now. I know I am not alone, I know there are other women that have my affliction. The saving grace for me is that I recognize it is a problem. It came to a head for me last week as I was trolling the pages of EBAY in search of sequin "booty shorts" and a matching bra for my niece to wear. My niece, a drop dead beautiful Halle Berry looking stunner, is someone I like to dress up as if she is a doll. I love to see her clad in sexy outfits and high heels. I love to see her in make-up and her hair styled perfectly. For my enjoyment in part, but for the most part so that the rest of the world seeing her, will share in my awe of her beauty.
The problem is she is 32 years old. The bigger problem is I started this when she was 2.
After the death of beautiful little Jon Benet Ramsey, the spotlight was shone on the industry of child beauty pageants. America took notice of the problems and inherent dysfunction of mothers encouraging their little girls to wear make-up and wigs, and dress provocatively. Prance around on stage and wiggle their bodies for applause and a plastic crown and trophy. We now have Honey Boo Boo, a little girl from a "Hillbillyish" family of people, that has been given her own TV show. People laugh and think it is cute that her mother plies her with her own concoction of something she calls "go go juice" which is essentially liquid sugar on steroids. Used to keep her perky and animated.
Jessica Simpson has recently come under fire for showing off photos of her new born wearing a bikini. Yes you heard me correctly, a bikini. I have read and watched many debates on this online and on TV, and there is no consensus on whether it is right or wrong. Those that see no problem with it put the blame on those "looking at the child and reading something sexual" as the ones with an issue. While those that do have a problem with this, see it as just another example of exploitation of little girls. Offering up easy and available visual pics for men that are perverted to get their rocks off.
Well....I have to say I happen to believe the biggest issue is not the men that look at these photos, the biggest issue are the women that push forward these little girls in this manner.
Again, I am guilty of it.
To my niece's credit, her daughter (my God Niece) she will not allow me to do to her child what I did to her. I did put make-up on my niece when she was a small child. Hair spray in the hair, full make-up, cute clothes and I would take pictures. It didn't matter to me that her mom (my sister was against it) I loved how beautiful she was and to some extent lived through her. As she grew, I continued to buy her clothes and encouraged her to wear her hair in certain styles. I was enraged when she got tattoos because I believed it would take away from the smooth, clear skin I wanted her to have. And the piercings....forgettaboutit! I was livid! :-)
But along with my pampering physically came a healthy dose of my feminist views. "Be independent - be strong in your beliefs - never allow any man to take care of you - love yourself more than you love a man....." She understood all of that and took it to heart. But that doesn't answer the question why I and countless other "stage mothers" live through their children? I have a life, why do I (up until last week) feel that by seeing my niece dress as I no longer can - why is this important to me? Why is it any little girl I see, no matter how small, I fight the urge to put "just a little lip gloss on her...." What is that! :-)
And what message are we sending our young girls by essentially saying they are not good enough as they are? That in order to be accepted by men (and other women) they must wear make-up, fuss with their hair and dress provocatively. It's not good enough to stand out because of your intellect.....no indeed, that means nothing unless it comes packaged in a beautiful face and body.
Is Jessica Simpson wrong? Are the mothers of all of the child beauty pageants wrong? Am I wrong?
The answer is, we may not be wrong, but we're not right either.
I am flawed, just as millions of other women are. Messages we receive as children can and do stay with us into our adulthood. Some escape the need to assimilate such as my niece. However far too many of us don't. No man has seen me without make-up and never will. Why? And the bigger question is, why do I care?