Take It Off…No, Put It On! A Mom’s Perspective on Pushing the Envelope

When I was 20 years old, I was pretty damn stupid. I’ll be the first one to admit it. I thought I knew everything, but turns out, I really knew nothing. I was smart, sure. I had book smarts coming out of my ears (that’s what you have when you start college in your second year) and enough common sense to keep me from sticking my hands in blenders or playing in traffic. But beyond that, I was dumb as hell. Most people at my age would probably be ashamed of their early 20’s, but I embrace them as part of who I was and who I am now.

Before I get going too fast, let me interject this: I was not a partier. I didn’t do drugs. Didn’t even smoke cigarettes (and still don’t!). The only time I really drank was when I was in the safety of someone’s house and not going anywhere. In fact, my first beer was purchased by my father on my 21st birthday in a little Irish pub that’s no longer there on King Street in downtown Charleston. My birthday weekend was spent buying a bottle of Kahlua and driving half-way across the state to spend the weekend with my boyfriend and two of our best friends. (He’s now my husband and the father of my child, btw.) My rationale behind this post is that when I was a kid, I acted like one. I didn’t know better. And while yes, I’m still a very open-minded and open-hearted person who accepts everyone at face value and always tries to find the good in every person and situation, my feet are now planted firmly on the ground and I’ve learned a thing or two in the last few years.

So I’m in the kitchen preparing a few things to take to a family reunion earlier this week (hey, shut up) when my husband calls me into the living room. “Hurry up and look at this!” he says. So I dry my hands and swing around the corner to find myself looking at a picture of a baby shower cake. The cake is well-decorated, mind you. The artist did an absolutely fantastic job of visually representing this cartoon scene of a baby coming out of a vagina.

I nearly thwapped him in the back of the head with the dish towel because the first thing going through my mind was What if my two year old had been in his lap? She doesn’t need to see that! Then I realized how stupid I sounded in my own head. She’s two. She wouldn’t understand it. She would think it was a baby wrapped in a blanket. Just as she doesn’t understand the innuendo in Family Guy and its ilk, she won’t pick up the true nature of any crude humor for years to come. At the same time, though, she’s a little sponge, soaking up everything she sees and ultimately attempting mimicry. It’s how she learns. Heaven knows we’ve discovered just how foul our mouths are since she started talking. The first time I heard the words “oh, my damn it” come out of her mouth, I simultaneously burst out laughing and crying. It was hilarious. I mean side-splitting funny. But at the same time it was my baby using bad words that she shouldn’t even know! The timing was appropriate, even if the usage was off. She’d dropped her cup and the top popped off. But that’s what scares me. She’s learning these things.

Which is exactly what spawned this post. Just because she doesn’t completely understand something doesn’t mean she isn’t filing what she sees away for later. And while I try to steer her toward age appropriate material, I can’t always control the influences around her. My husband doesn’t see the problem in allowing her to watch pop music videos with nearly naked women twerking while they sing about one-night stands and drug use. But I do. He may enjoy it – and he’s allowed to because he’s a grown man – but she doesn’t need to see it. I don’t want her dressing like a ho-bag and twerking by the time she’s five. That’s not cute. It’s sad.

Don’t get me wrong – this isn’t about censorship. I’m not rallying the torch and pitchfork clan to go after YouTube and the television networks to cut the obscenity and only show reruns of I Love Lucy. This is about my sudden and surprising disgust on behalf of my daughter for the low standards of today’s media. I know that since the dawn of media, there has always been someone there pushing the envelope, and I not only applaud but appreciate that. The envelope needs to be pushed. The world needs to evolve. Marilyn Monroe was a visionary in her time. What’s mundane and last year’s fashion today was pretty damn racy when she was singing “Happy Birthday, Mr. President.” And let’s not forget the King of Rock N’ Roll… they wouldn’t even show Elvis Presley from the waist down because [interjects best southern drawl] it might give self-respectin’ ladies the vapors. [Ahem.] Then there was Madonna, who took racy to a whole new level.

I have a lot of respect for Madonna’s career, and I often hear my mother come out of my own mouth these days. The things she said about Madonna in 1989 are the same things I say about Nicki Minaj and Miley Cyrus today. But you know what? I turned out okay living with her. My little girl will turn out okay with me. I have no doubt.

Hey, while we’re here, let’s go ahead and press that shiny-red controversy button now. I called on the Candyman so I may as well let him(her) out of the mirror.

Let’s talk about Miley for a minute.

I’ve had this argument with my husband and step-daughter a hundred times since she got naked and dry-humped Robin Thicke (who coincidentally looked too much like Beetlejuice for my liking) on stage for the whole world to see. There is absolutely no doubt that she’s a beautiful, wildly talented girl with the ability go anywhere and be anything. Personally, I love her voice and a good bit of her music. She’s the whole package. Almost. Girlfriend just needs some serious common sense.

I want to sit her down and teach her one very important lesson that I should have learned when I was her age and didn’t. The things you do at 20 will haunt you for the rest of your life. I get she wanted to break away from the Disney mold and show the world she wasn’t a little girl anymore. But from the perspective of a mother, her antics over the last year and a half haven’t shown me that. They’ve shown me that she’s still an immature child desperate to stay in the spotlight at all costs. Even if it means sacrificing her dignity and integrity to do it.

We’re not going to talk about her tongue either. She really needs to keep it in her mouth. I want to tell her “Sweetie…that’s not sexy. That constant licking makes you look like a giraffe with a canker sore.”

What blows my mind and completely destroys my faith in her ability to intelligently maintain a long-standing musical career is the video for Wrecking Ball. That song… it’s beautiful, it’s haunting. It’s one of the most powerfully moving pieces of music I’ve heard in years. And the video destroys the image. I mean completely and utterly massacres the artistry of the song. See for yourself:

From the perspective of an artist, the video would have been much more effective in conveying the heartbreak if she’d kept her clothes on and not licked the chain. Seriously. When you’re singing about complete and utter heartbreak, being nekkid in boots is just corny.

From the perspective of a mom? Holy Mary, GET THAT CHILD SOME CLOTHES!

Her director should have put her in time-out for that decision…though I’m pretty sure he went with it so he could see Miley Cyrus naked on his set. A really good friend of mine made an offhand comment about her on Facebook awhile back that ended badly for him because (1) it was worded wrong and (2) people are stupid. However, I agree with his point. His comment was something to the extent of “her daddy should have whipped her butt when she was a kid”. The hotheads immediately flew off the handle and accused him of condoning violence against women and children, which was so far off the mark I wanted to punch these chicks. (I’m a girl, so it’s okay, right? No, I know…but you get my point. If they’d said it, it wouldn’t have been as controversial a comment.) While he wasn’t specifically demanding the use of corporal punishment against her, he was implying that her parents should have set boundaries and taught her better. The sad truth of his statement is that she is a child of television and most of those children don’t have the limits and moral values the rest of us eventually develop. Look at Britney and Jamie Lynn Spears… two beautiful, talented girls who turned out to be total train wrecks when they reached the age of consent. Again, I blame their parents for being on a quest for the almighty dollar instead of teaching their children how to function as real people.quote1

And seriously, MTV needs a great big spanking with a flyswatter for unleashing stupid shit like “16 and Pregnant” on the world. They were the boneheads responsible for telling Farrah Abraham she was important (and we all know how I feel about her). I’m so terribly sorry, everyone, but I have a fundamental issue with those shows. I get they’re meant to show the trials of a teenage parent, but you know what? They don’t. They’re glorifying adolescent pregnancy. They’re showing young girls that “yeah, it’s okay to get knocked up. Your parents will take care of the baby or you can just go out and get the government to pay for your kid.” I’m sorry, but fuck you, television. That’s not okay. You can’t preach abstinence in the classroom then give a sixteen year old mother a television show. Defeating. The. Purpose.

I was a married adult well past my early twenties when I gave birth to my first child. Why is that so wrong now?

But I digress.

Or maybe not. That’s sort of the point of this whole rant in a nutshell. Morals and common sense.

I love horror movies. Do I let my baby girl watch them? No. Why? Because she doesn’t need to experience that yet. When the time comes, I’ll be more than happy to sit down with her and let her watch the movies that have scared the hell out of me over the years.

Do I write racy, adult-based things? Absolutely. But I don’t leave them where my child, or any other child in my family, can get to them. They’re clearly labeled as fiction for adults, and while some of my writing is erotic, the sexual aspect is always between two consenting adults who understand the ramifications of their actions. And usually those two people end up in a long-term, committed relationship.

Was I a virgin when I got married? No. But my husband is the only man I’ve ever been with, and we lived together for five years before we got married. Our daughter was born after. Plus I helped raise his daughter from his first marriage. I’ve seen her through elementary, middle, and high school, and now she’s in college and on her own path. And I worry about her every single day succumbing to the bullshit pressures of the media. She doesn’t weigh 110 pounds soaking wet, but she says she’s fat. I want to punch the fucking television.

I applaud the need for today’s pop stars to push the envelope, but I ask that (1) they slow down a little (I mean seriously, Miley. Now that you’re naked, there’s nothing left to take off without turning into a sci-fi freak show), and (2) the media asshats stop with the constant oversexualization of our society. There’s a time and a place for everything, and let me tell you from the mouth of a mother who is by no means a beauty queen, your physical appearance is not the most important thing in the world. I’m not a skinny girl by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, you could split me in half and get two skinny girls. But I was a size 16 when I got married and I’ll tell you what… two centuries ago, I would have been the epitome of beauty.

quote2Here’s the dirty little secret: I’m not skinny, but I’m married with a family and moderately successful in my life. I’m happy with me as I am, and if every impressionable little girl out there had a role model teaching her the values I’ve learned in my thirty-something years, this world would be a much better place. Image is not the key to happiness. Being happy with who you are and what you have is better than trying to fit some jacked-up Hollywood image of beauty any day.

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