Sunday, April 27, 2008

Gab & Go!

This is the weekend of my book release! Words really can not express how these past 2 days have been. It's exhilarating, nerve-wracking, heart-warming and inspirational all in one. The reception that the book and the whole concept of Feel Good Girl has received has been absolutely incredible!

In the meantime, I may be on a mini-book tour but I've still got my ear out for interesting news and views on the culture that influences our girls so strongly. I caught wind of this very interesting conversation on the blog for Packaging Girlhood. (BTW, if you Mamas want to get a real-deal view of just how much pop culture, media and advertising impacts the way our girls think and act, you definitely want to check this book out. It's a real eye-opener.)

The conversation is carried further here at Shaping Youth (another great blog that takes a deeper look at marketing and media's influence on girls). Check 'em out. Chime in. This is what being informed Mamas is all about.

Now I'm off to the final book signing. Catch you all in the next couple days.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Music that moves you ... to burning anger

How much of an impact does music have on people's actions and behavior? From personal experience, I'd have to say, a pretty big one. How many times have you turned on a song to set a romantic mood, get you pumped up, or help you relax?

So wouldn't it stand to reason that overly-sexual, misogynistic, or just flat nasty song lyrics would also have an impact on how people behave?

A 2006 study from the American Academy of Pediatrics presented very strong evidence (2 years ago, Mamas!) that sexually degrading lyrics in music encourages adolescents to initiate sexual intercourse and other sexual activities more quickly.

A press release about the study put it in the plainest language:
Researchers found that only sexually degrading lyrics – many quite graphic and containing numerous obscenities – are related to changes in adolescents' sexual behavior. These lyrics depict men as sexually insatiable, women as sexual objects, and sexual intercourse as inconsequential. Other songs about sex do not appear to influence youth the same way.

Yet today, I as I flip through the stations on my way to work I'm greeted with multiple spins of:

Sexy Can I - Ray J
Sexy can I, just pardon my manners.
Girl how you shake it, got a playa like (ohhhh)
It's a kodak moment, let me go and get my camera
All I wanna know is, Sexy can I, Sexy Can I, hit it from the front,
then I hit it from the back.
know you like it like that.
then we take it to the bed, then we take it to the floor
then we chill for a second, then we're makin love some more

Love In This Club - Usher
Might as well give me a kiss, if we keep touchin like this
i know you scared baby, They dont know what we doin
Lets both get undressed right here, keep it up girl i swear, imma give it to you non stop
and i dont care, who's watchin...watchin...watchin
wanna make love in this club (in this club. in this club)

Lollipop - Lil Wayne
Shawty wanna lic-lic-lic-lick me like a lollipop
Shawty lick lick lick me like a lollipop (lollipop)
Shawty wanna lick me, lick me like a lollipop
So I let her lick the wrapper
Shawty wanna thug
Bottles in the club
Shawty wanna hump
Ya know I like to touch ya lovely lady lumps


There was a time when I would turn the station if a dirty song came on the radio while I was in the car with my daughter. Now that she's 14, I don’t even bother. She's old enough to know what's going on in her world, and hell, she'd just hear it somewhere else anyway.

What I do instead is point out to her the deeper impact of these types of lyrics. EVERYONE is talking about the same thing… hittin' it from the back, knockin' boots (probably showing my age with that one), shakin' it, lickin' it, smackin' it, bouncing big booties, poppin' bottles, etcetera, etcetera, ... blah, blah, blappity blah.

And the messages: Guys control the action. Guys set the tone. Guys spend the money to get girls really drunk and buy stuff for girls. Girls are to be looked at, admired, compared to other girls, and of course sexed up.

Seriously, record companies? Is this the best you can do? Granted, there's better music out there. But unless kids have parents or someone else who is willing to introduce them to better music with deeper, more meaningful lyrics, they're stuck with what's popular.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Active Girls = Endangered Species

I never participated in sports at school, but I was fairly active. I rode my bike everywhere up until I got my first car at 16. And I did a lot of working out in my room. Let's not forget, the 80s were the days of the aerobics fitness boom. Remember The 20 Minute Workout, Mamas?

Honestly, today this show might be considered a form of soft porn. But back then ... it was groundbreaking! I would spend hours in my room coming up with my own workout routines, dressed in full aerobic regalia. I'm talking leg warmers, an off-the-shoulder T-shirt, and little white sneakers. No butt-floss leotard though. I opted for shorts.

Wow. I've never told anyone that, before. Consider yourself enlightened, Mamas!

So today, a new report from the University of Minnesota was brought to my attention. It reveals that girls are participating in organized sports in record numbers, which is great! But it also points out that outside of organized sports, girls are less active, even sedentary.

In other words, if girls aren't involved in sports through school, community youth programs or other outlets, chances are they aren't getting any physical activity at all. Which is not so great, especially when childhood obesity is such a huge issue. Girls in lower income neighborhoods are even less likely to participate in sports simply because the programs may not be available to them.

But the availability of sports programs for girls is not the only issue. As a rule, all kids tend to experience a drop in confidence in their 'tween/early teen years. This is around the same time that girls begin to feed into the stereotypes of what girls should and should not do (i.e: girls should shop, look good, and impress boys; not kick butt and take names on the soccer field or basketball court).

And let's face it, the whole sexual aspect of the female body is impossible to escape for even the most skilled athletes. Seriously, how many times have we heard comments about Serena Williams' butt, or how "smokin' hot" race car driver Danica Patrick is. That type of mentality trivializes women's participation in sports to a huge degree.

So it's great to hear that more girls are playing sports. But as always, Mama's ... we've got a ways to go.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Pretty is as Pretty Does

There's gold in them thar kids!

I think that's what the beauty industry must be hollering as it points and drools while salaciously ogling our little girls. To them, pre-teens and even younger children are little more than blank canvases, just crying out for make-up, perfume, hair extensions, and big brand names emblazoned across their itty-bitty butts.

No doubt about it, the trend for pre-teen beauty products is a billion dollar industry. And there seems to be no limit to what marketers will try to sell to kids...

On Tuesday's Today show, Janice Lieberman did this segment (also shown below) on the kiddie cosmetics trend. It's not little wax lipsticks anymore, Mamas. It's slickly packaged, vigorously marketed, and fairly expensive make-up, hair and skin products, and even spa treatments ... for babies. Marketers are tapping into the trend of "kids getting older younger" and making the mo$t of it.

How about a bikini wax for your little princess? Now that may prompt you (or any remotely sane person) to ask What's to wax? Well whatever's there, silly! (Thanks to Anastasia over at Ypulse for bringing that one to light.)

Hey kids! Why settle for some hack (like mommy or grandma) diddling around in your hair when you can go the pros and get some kick-ass highlights?

And Hooray! A British company will no longer offer bras and thongs to 5-year-olds!

Why deal with the petty inconvenience of childhood? Let's give our little girls all the complexes, insecurities, and distorted ideas about beauty that adults enjoy. All before they even hit puberty. It's the American way!
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