Do You Know Where Your Daughter Is?: On Why Our Girls Hardly Stand A Chance.

I just stumbled across this video on facebook. Take a look and then we’ll continue this in a moment:

I know, right? In case you’re wondering, yes, that was a real song…about jeans. The video follows young Jenna Rose on a crazed search, friends in tow, for a pair of jeans. In the video we also see Jenna, who is only in the 7th grade by the way (that’s right, you heard me, 7th grade!), brushing her hair (I’m sure she already did her make-up), conflicted over what to wear (big decisions for a 12 year old), flipping through teenybopper gossip magazines (gotta keep up with the Biebs), incessantly exclaiming “o-m-g!” (why the face?), dancing around her room with her friends as she sings about said designer jeans, jumping into a Mini Cooper and driving off (evidently all you need are wealthy parents to get a license in Cali. Plus, there are just way too many kids in that car! Unless there are about 23 seat-belts in the back little Jenna is going to have her first run-in with the law), and running around the mall (‘cuz that’s what girls do, right?!). As she lustfully gazes through the window at the immaculate denim she sings,

“I thought about how cool I’d look if I had them on right now / I’m anxious, and excited , they’re on my mind”.

Enter “Baby Triggy” (who can’t be much older that 13 himself), rapping about jets and his new Blackberry.

GOOD LORD!

Is this what we’ve become?

Frankly, as the father of a soon-to-be-born baby girl this scares the bejeezus out of me. As Christians human beings we need to recognize the formative power of things like this and see through the bull. Now, surely this is not Jenna Rose’s fault. She’s 12 for crying out loud. I honestly feel for this poor girl. But here’s the really scary thing…kids listen. If this is what our daughters brains are being pumped full of then can we really expect a different outcome? The target demographic of marketing like this are girls as young as 6-8 years old (even younger?) who are not old nor wise enough to think rationally and clearly about these sorts of matters. Our young women are being formed into mindless zombies that a) are utterly consumed and anxious about their appearance (at increasingly younger ages), b) succumb to the powers of a soul-sucking consumerism, c) are influenced and compare themselves to teen celeb’s (someone has to sell those jeans!), d) are sexualized at far too young an age, and e) take up shopping as a hobby.

Well, I say no. I’d like to use stronger language to describe what I really want to say but there could be future employers reading! My daughter will not be swayed by your perverted ways. She will not be weak an unable to stand up to the forces of consumerism. No, she will be strong because she belongs to the Lord and he to her. She will not be anxious about what she looks like. No, she will know that her beauty and worth are far more inherent than the clothes she wears. She will not take up shopping as a hobby. No, she will be far too busy loving and living with the sick and the destitute to hang out at the mall. She will not be made into a sexual object before she even hits puberty. No, she will be entitled to and enjoy her childhood. She will not care about the latest celebrity gossip. No, she will be far too busy listening to the voice of her Father in Heaven.

Am I being to idealistic here to suppose my daughter will be unaffected by the powerful narratives that shape the Western world? I hope not. For I know of a narrative that is more powerful than any story told by clever marketers that sling crack to children. I know of a love that is far stronger than the love for material goods. In the opening verse Jenna sings: “Commercial shows on my t.v. about these cool designer jeans”. Be not deceived: our children are being targeted and sold a lie. The stats on marketing that is targeted towards children are shocking. Kids hardly stand a change these days.

What can we as parents, friends, and concerned citizens do?

May God’s story be more powerful and formative yet. Lord have mercy.

Rant, over.

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4 comments
  1. I agree, JT. It *is* scary. I plan to safeguard my daughter from this (and my son as well), which will require conscious decisions in many areas. How do you think we should do this, practically? Do you plan to homeschool? Throw out your TV? Etc? I’m not being sarcastic, I’m curious because the same rant plays in my mind often, and I think no sacrifice too large for the sake of protecting my kids from the “sexy-designer-clothes-hang-out-in-the-mall” mentality.

  2. jt* said:

    Yeah, good questions.

    I guess it’s hard for me to say in advance exactly what practical measures we plan to take but at the same time I do think it’s important to have at least thought these things through a bit before you get there.

    I get what you mean when you say you want to “safeguard” your kids. At the same time though, I don’t know if that’s exactly what I’m trying to get at. I don’t think we should protect our children so much as we should seek to teach them how to live differently *in the midst* of the muck of the world. My hope for my daughter isn’t that she’ll be sheltered from all of the “powers-that-be” but that she’ll grow up and live in the midst of the world in a manner that is faithful to the risen Christ.

    This is part of my problem with homeschooling. There are people that I deeply respect who homeschool their kids. Some of the reasons are good and noble. Other reasons are less good. I think, where I’m at right now, I would much rather leave my children in the school system. My ideal would be what I’ve already tried to describe above: to teach them to live a different sort of life in the midst of the world. I want to teach my daughter what it means to live for Jesus *in* a public highschool. Because the reality is that she’s going to grow up and I can’t pluck her out of the world. She’s going to have to live in this world, there is no escape. But that doesn’t mean she has to live by the rules of this world.

    How do I think we should do this practically? Well, that probably needs a lot of thought and discernment (as a community of faith, not just as individuals). But I wonder if practically it doesn’t start with the parents. How can Christina and I be parents who live in this world but don’t play by it’s rules? Perhaps if Charlotte grows up with parents who are striving to do this, in a church community which is striving to do this, then she’ll have a better chance? Let me know if you think of anything! In the mean time, I guess it doesn’t hurt to pray.

  3. ashley said:

    hmm.
    I’ve been afraid of this for my future children, especially since I was a child who felt this pressure as early as grade 2 ( at age 7 I was kicked out of the three person “band” I started because the other two girls didn’t think I dressed properly…. The band was called the “totally triplets”, because I had a way with words even as a seven year old. We performed Sharon Lois and Bram songs at recess)

    I think the best response is prayer, for sure. The BIGGEST influence in a child’s life is her peers as early as 8 years old. Scary! But even if we can’t be there from grade 3 onward, I know someone who can.

    Even though peers hold sway as early as 8, luckily, according to research, a child’s base worldview is formed by the time she (or he, but since Charlotte is a concern) is 8 years old (though it can be changed in adulthood).

    What does this mean?

    It means that the way parents raise their children and the values they are exposed to in the home are the strongest determining factors for how successfully a child will navigate the world through to age 18 (and beyond!).

    This is good news for certain families I know expecting this summer… but is also a wake up call for those who are not as vigilant regarding their child’s exposure to “the patterns of this world”.

    I have been nervous about exposing my children to public school… but as someone who did not grow up Christian, I also know we NEED to put our children into public schools so they can be a light to their peers.

    It is our job to model appropriate values for our children (and raise them to know Jesus) so they have a strong foundation of love with which to navigate the world. And it is the job of our children to influence their peers (rather than the other way around) after age 8.

    In conclusion, good post. It seems to me these thoughts are the right ones.

  4. I agree that we are called to be lights to the world… BUT a young child is not able to rationally sort through all of the information thrown at him/her and decide what to believe ( – I’m not sure I want secular influences competing with me for shaping the basic worldview and belief structure of my child (spending the majority of their waking hours with someone other than me is surely going to be extremely influential on them, if not MORE influential than myself and Chris). Also, homeschooling does not make you a hermit – as a family you can be Christ-like examples to whomever you encounter – whether that’s the librarian, the grocery store clerk, or the soccer coach… or the kids in the art class, neighbourhood friends, your kid’s baseball team, etc.

    BUT… that is actually not the primary reason I’d like to homeschool (yup, I do). The main reason for me is because I am excited about the opportunities that my children will have that traditionally-educated children will not. I’m also excited about being a part of their learning. Watching a child’s natural curiosity and being responsible for guiding and nurturing it is, I think, an awesome privilege. I also believe that traditional education is a flawed system inherently (check out this book: http://www.amazon.com/Dumbing-Down-Curriculum-Compulsory-Schooling/dp/086571231X)

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