Category Archives: girls

Sticker Shock

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Last week, I volunteered to work at the book fair at The Girl’s school. It was fun – helping kids pick out books is awesome (Yay, books) and watching them make their decisions was highly entertaining. I especially loved when little kids picked out longer, chapter books or when a tiny little princess girl surprised me and got books about Star Wars and the Titanic. I love that they provide a free book to every kid, so no one leaves empty-handed.

What I didn’t love was something that was being sold. Up near the checkout, there is always a desk with pencils, erasers, sticker & bookmarks that the kids love, because there isn’t one of them who wants to come home with change – they NEED to spend it all. And in the collection of stickers, there was this:

Dear Scholastic Books – usually I love you, but this? Really? REALLY? Don’t you think our girls have enough to worry about? I mean, I get that it isn’t talking about anyone’s body, but anyone who has lived on earth in the last…I don’t know…forever, knows this is a mainly used in the context of women and their weight. And while one can argue that nothing about this sticker is making a statement about anyone’s weight, at the very least, it makes a mockery about people who are (needlessly or not) worried about their weight or struggle with poor body image. It’s like getting it from both sides: “Don’t be fat!” but “Don’t let anyone think you care about being fat.”

I guess you could argue that making fun of fat worries is a positive thing, but I don’t agree. For one thing, body-image is not always a rational thing – there are 24 million people suffering from eating disorders who can attest to that (20% of anorexics will die from their disease). And when someone feels bad about themselves, making fun of them is very much NOT helpful. And then, some people do have to worry about their weight – not because society tells them it’s prettier to be thin, but for health reasons. Making fun of them is very much not helpful.

Scholastic’s corporate mission reads:

The corporate mission of Scholastic is to encourage the intellectual and personal growth of all children, beginning with literacy, the cornerstone of all learning. With more than 90 years of experience supporting the learning lives of children, today Scholastic remains committed to providing quality, engaging educational content in digital and print formats for the next generation of learners, and the families and educators who guide them.

I’m not sure how this sticker fits in with “encourag(ing) intellectual and personal growth”. It might seem like a cute, funny statement to the folks that came up with it, and who knows – maybe I’m over-reacting – but I’d venture to say that the humor is most likely lost on 5 – 10 year olds, anyway. But maybe not the damage that insecurity and body-shaming can do. Having a sticker like this in school makes it OK – makes it normal to joke about weight issues. And I’m just not comfortable with that. Raising my daughter to be a strong, confident person is hard enough without something like this.

And even if there is nothing at all wrong with this sticker – even if you don’t find it inappropriate or insulting, why not have positive messages available to kids? Sell stickers that proclaim how smart or strong or kind my daughter is – not how fat she (or her notebook) might look.
You can do better, Scholastic. See – it’s not that hard:

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Sexy Miss USA Pics Don’t Change How I Feel About Pageants – I’d Hate Them Anyway

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So there’s a bit of a controversy going on surrounding the Miss USA pageant. It seems that the pageant has posted photos on its website of the contestants in sexy lingerie. And some people think it’s going too far – too sexy, too sleazy, too…something. But me? I just don’t care. The women that participate in the pageant are all adults. They can make the decision on whether they feel comfortable posing like that. They aren’t being taken advantage of (assuming that they weren’t forced into doing so unwillingly, and since I haven’t heard any reports I am going with the assumption that they were all willing). So no – I don’t dislike the Miss USA pageant because of these photos. I dislike the Miss USA pageant because it’s a pageant.

I’ve always been pretty clear on my feelings about pageants. I’ve seen firsthand a family member pushed into pageants throughout her childhood. It wasn’t pretty – and it wasn’t nearly as extreme as what you see on those revolting Toddlers & Tiaras-type shows. I hate that pageants are teaching young girls that what is important is what’s on the outside – that beauty is far more important than intelligence or kindness or any number of other good qualities. Supporters of pageants like to blab on about how it gives them confidence and poise and strength. They like to talk about how pageants are scholarship contests, not beauty contests. And OK – I’ll give them some of that. I’m sure that being in pageants does help build a girl’s confidence. But so do sports and music lessons and girl scouts. And none of those things require a fake tan. And sure – sometimes the prizes in pageants are scholarships, but back in the day, I did a lot of interviewing for college scholarships and NOT ONE of them required that I wear a bikini. Go figure.

And let’s be honest – remember Miss Teen South Carolina a few years back? She of the following quote:

“I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because, um, some people out there in our nation don’t have maps and, uh, I believe that our, uh, education like such as, uh, South Africa and, uh, the Iraq and everywhere like such as, and I believe that they should, uh, our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S., uh, should help South Africa and should help Iraq and the Asian countries, so we will be able to build up our future.”

She got THIRD PLACE! Third place out of 51 contestants! How stupid were the other 48 contestants if this is the third place “scholarship” winner?

COME ON! Let’s be honest. Pageants ARE beauty contests. And beauty contests aren’t exactly teaching our girls much of anything beyond the Pretty is Best mentality. And the folks behind them know it or they wouldn’t be so gung-ho on telling us otherwise.

But hey – maybe I’m wrong. Maybe they’re harmless. Maybe it’s OK to put blush and eye-shadow and false eyelashes on a 5-year old, because her own natural beauty isn’t enough.

And maybe it’s OK to give a 2-year old hair extensions because her baby-fine hair isn’t beautiful enough.

And maybe there’s nothing wrong with making a child wear big false teeth and fake tans because proudly showing their first lost baby tooth just isn’t proper pageant decorum. Or because they don’t have teeth yet and as everyone knows, tiny little toothless smiles are hideous, right? And soft, porcelain , undamaged skin? YUCK!

And dressing them up like Vegas showgirls and hookers is totally cute!

And it wouldn’t be a pageant if the contestants didn’t show off their sexy curves in a bathing suit competition, right?

And of course it’s not at all disturbing to retouch photos until the once beautiful, normal looking little girls look like they are wearing pancake makeup. nothing says “adorable!” like that coffin look.

But the girls like it the pageant people keep telling us. It’s good for them.

And one day these little girls will grow up into bigger girls. Older, more grown-up girls, but still girls. And if they are lucky, they will become a part of the Miss USA family. And they will be seen by the whole world in borderline soft-porn photos, right there on the Miss USA website – which is fine if that;s what they want. But when we look at those photos, my first thought isn’t exactly, Wow, they all look very confident.

I’ll take this any day – messy, stringy hair, missing tooth, pale skin, no eyeliner to be seen, and the most beautiful thing I’ve seen today (even in crappy cell phone photo form):