so my phone has been out of commission for just about two days now. i am loving how quiet it is around here, but missing being "available". my husband bought me an ipad over a year ago for my birthday, but i tend to not use it while chlo is awake as it tends to evoke many many tantrums. it is better to be disconnected, have less tantrums, and spend time less distracted... and to be honest i am really enjoying it. 

but this afternoon while chloe was doing her pre-nap pig-being-butchered-screaming (does anyone else have a toddler that insists on screaming a bit before going to bed?), i was sitting on my bed with the good old pad and texting my husband about the said, screaming. then i perused instagram and saw someone make mention of a certain blog post and that the post had gone viral. as i looked back through the comments, which had nothing to do with the photo posted, i saw there was a bit of controversy brewing about the blog post being talked about (fyi, the instagrammer whose photo was being commented on, was not the author of the blog post being talked about - rather someone was asking her opinion about the post). well i was intrigued, so i googled the post and read it... and well, i just couldn't help myself, here is my opinion on the post. you can read the original post here: titled "fyi (if you're a teenage girl)".

the post appears to be from a well meaning woman of four children, most of them being boys who are nearing or have reached their teenage years - so hats off to her! she wrote the post addressing teenage girls who are, or could in the future be, friends or acquaintances of her sons and who interact with them via social media - namely facebook. right from the start, she seems like a concerned mom who is actually taking the time to monitor what her children are looking at on the internet, and who is bold enough to talk with her sons about what is and what is not appropriate. i do not fault her for any of these things. but then she stresses to the girls she is addressing that she will block them if they post photos of themselves in suggestive poses or scantly clothed as she wants her sons to be men of moral integrity that don't "linger over photos of scantly-clad highschool girls". in the original post (she has since posted a revised one with different photos), she includes a photo of her four attractive children on the beach, her three sons without shirts... well this gained her a few comments regarding hypocrisy. 

my issue is not with what she wants for her sons, or with the photo she posted of them, my issue is that i don't think what she is doing is going to work. at least not in the long run. it seems as though she is suggesting that women who dress appropriately are not likely to be objectified by young men - well that's not true! this is not to say that scantly clothed people are not going to gain attention - but it is easy attention, because they aren't wearing any clothes! doh! women who wear clothes can be objectified too, and it doesn't make it any different, or any better. so, get the thought out of your head that women who are, or who are not, scantly clothed might ever be asking to be objectified.

next, teenage boys, and teenage girls have sex on their minds, and for too long i think that parents have tried to ignore it, to repress it, to squash it. yes, sexuality is a normal and healthy part of human development, and it is a strange, curious, beautiful, and weird part of being a teenage boy or girl. you cannot get rid of this, it is there, it is not going to go away, parents have no control over this. your child is going to look at who they find attractive, eye catching, and unusual... whether it is on facebook, the internet, television, magazines, or in real life. unless you want to lock your teenager in a windowless room without access to any outside influences, this is just going to happen (in fact, even if you lock them in a windowless room i think they still might think about sex). get over it.

but, instead of blocking things from the eyes of your children, why not try talking with them about what they are seeing, asking them why they are posing like that, or why they think the person on the other side of the screen might be posing in such a way.... ask them what message they think they are portraying, and teach them that their appearance is a message, a useful tool that they can use to influence without any words at all. encourage them to be creative, to be expressive, and to be comfortable in their own skin.

and while you are at it, be comfortable in your own skin too... for us moms this means not calling ourselves fat, especially in front of our children. really, what message are we sending to them when we tell them they are beautiful, but they came from a fat cow?

you are not a fat cow. you are beautiful.

teach your children to value others, to appreciate the male and female body (this means not teaching them that boys or girls are "yucky"). teach them to appreciate their own body. teach them to take care of their body. 

teach them that another person's beauty or appearance does not detract from their own... there is an infinite amount of beauty in this world... enough for every person.

teach them how to build self-esteem in others.

i follow another woman on instagram who is very into encouraging others (she is the mother teressa of my instragram feed). she recently took her young son, perhaps age 3 or 4, to starbucks carrying some flowers... she helped him hand out flowers to every woman in the shop and he told them that they were beautiful. when i read about this i cried. what an amazing way to teach your child, starting young, to encourage and treat other people with kindness.

to teach my children that people are beautiful, regardless of their appearance, regardless of how they dress... to not block them out, but to look closely and appreciate them.

and maybe this might not solve this huge problem of how society has been objectifying women (and men) for many years, and its damaging affect on young adults... but i think that it might be a small start.

forget trying to block people, change people, or cover them up. start seeing people as beautiful, and teach your children to see them as beautiful too.

and fyi - in case anyone hasn't told you teenage girl or boy: you are beautiful.


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