I recently read a post about Miley Cyrus , her performance, and what one mother would teach her daughter about the entertainment train wreck that was her performance on the VMA’s. The sentiment was there. I wanted to love the piece. But I just couldn’t. Probably because I have a pre-teen daughter and I could hear her eyes rolling back into her head at an alarming pace when I imagined me giving her most of the advice listed. There is nothing that a pre-teen loves more than a lecture. A lecture with 10 bullet points is even better.
The reality is that we can talk to them until we are blue in the face. They won’t hear us over the natural voice in their head screaming “OMG my Mom is so stupid!”
No, talking to them ain’t where it’s at, folks. We can listen to them. If we are really lucky we can pounce on the occasional opportunity that presents itself to engage in a meaningful conversation WITH them. And most importantly, we can SHOW them.
So after mulling over the performance by Miley for a few days …after getting over the shock and dismay that I can never again give a teddy bear as a gift unless I am at a bachelorette party, or use a foam finger at a football game without blushing, I have created my own list.
Not things I will tell her, but things I hope to show her…with full confidence that, even though she would rather clean her room than admit it… she is watching.
5 Things I Will SHOW My Daughter in Response to Miley
5) Sexy is NOT what Hollywood thinks it is.
Being a sexy woman has almost nothing to do with sex at all. Sexy has little to do with your body and what parts are big, small, or stuffed into whatever ridiculous outfit designers want to sell this season. Sexy is about being confident and strong. Sexy is about knowing when to be vulnerable. Sexy comes with age.
As your mother, I don’t ever want you to see me as sexy. But I know you see me as strong and confident. I know you see my age, and that I can be vulnerable. My lasting marriage to your father shows you that, in fact, this brand of sexy means more than all the twerking any teenage back side can muster.
4) Follow your heart, not the crowd.
There is a saying “you gotta stand for something, or you will fall for anything”! When the rest of the crowd is teasing that new kid, or when a group offers you drugs, or when something just doesn’t “feel” right…well I certainly hope you follow your heart, cause I know your heart…and it’s worth listening to. Following your heart means turning off all that noise from the outside, tuning into your own values, ideas and knowledge…and then making your own decisions. Call it your heart, your gut, intuition. Listen to it, and listen to it often.
You know my heart, because I am not shy in showing it to you. You have seen me stand up when I know something is not right. You have my permission to do the same.
3) It matters what SOME folks think of you.
All people are not created equal when it comes down to your giving one flying flip what they think of you. As you get older, those people will change. Right now, you should care what your some of your classmates think of you, but not all of them. You should probably care what your teachers think of you. You should always care what your parents think of you, but know that we will love you no matter what. One day you will need to care what people who do/could sign your paychecks think of you. But you should never, ever care what strangers in their mothers basements scouring the Internet at 3am because they have no life of their own think of you. Ever.
You have seen this in action. You know there are people whose opinions I value greatly. And you know there are some people who don’t like me, and while it stings for a moment… You have seen me move on and focus on the people who matter.
2) There are men who are capable of noticing your breasts and still treating you like a respectable human being.
No, despite what you see on TV, men are not all bafoons, led soley by sex-drive with eyes fixed on whatever rack you have stuffed into whatever form fitting shirt you may or may not have chosen that day. Do I prefer modesty from you at this age, sure. But not because you should be worried about boys, but because you should want to respect your own body and be appropriate for your age. Boys will stare at breasts. It’s not the end of the world. News flash: they are capable of having more than one thought in their brain. They can admire boobs, beauty, and intelligence…all at the same time.
I do not want to be the bearer of gross news, but your father still thinks my breasts are great, despite how gravity (and birthing my beautiful girls) has treated them over the years. But if they were gone tomorrow… It wouldn’t change what he loves, respects or admires about me one bit.
1) Most women don’t dress or behave a certain way to impress men…it’s to get other women to notice.
Miley wasn’t twerking on that stage because she wanted every man in the world to lust after her. In general, it’s not men who put the enormous pressure on women to be over-sexualized, to be beautiful, to be skinny…all those things that Miley seems to be desperate to cling to. On the surface she thinks she wants attention from men… but what she really seeks is affirmation from other women. At some point in our lives I think we are all guilty of it. And we have all perpetuated it. Every time we criticize a celebrity for not losing all her baby weight in time for that movie premiere 6 weeks after giving birth. Every time we laugh at some ridiculous picture someone took of a poor mother in tight sweatpants at a grocery store. Every time we complain about our own bodies because they don’t live up to some airbrushed standard. Every time we tear apart a young girl who is trying to find herself, just like we all did, but is doing it in the public eye…under the glare of flashing lights of paparazzi and producers interested in ratings.
In this department I know I’m not setting the perfect example. I’m just as guilty as the next person. Watching that show the other night caused a visceral reaction for many folks… and I even said some things about Miley that I am not proud of. We all need to do a better job in supporting each other (even when we royally screw up). My hope is that your generation will do a better job of it than mine has.
Dear Daughter, I know you are watching. I hope Miley will find someone to watch, listen to and really learn from. Because, I think we have all lectured her enough.
And how’s that working out?