Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Ok, does it take a whole childhood to learn how to put on glitter nail polish? Washington Post article for background. I went to the central library yesterday, and I noted the teen section(many younger girls read teen magazines- I remember a sixth grade classmate talking about how she got fashion ideas from magazines.) I point out the washington post article because it had this quote from a mother:

"Looking good just shows that you care about yourself, care about how you present yourself to the world. People are judged by their appearance. People get better service and are treated better when they look better. That's just the way it is," she says. "I think discouraging children from paying attention to their appearance does them a disservice."

I think this is a trojan horse for some nasty patriachical dogma. The idea that one's apperence is a measure of how one feels about themself is poison. If children are subjected to the idea that at age 8, they should be worried about how they present themselves- do you think the girl is going to be encouraged to go frog catching, to play football with the boys, to test water in that muddy stream, to just be a kid and not worry about whether they have the hippest new style or about whether they are the prettiest girl in class?

That's not a strong foundation to build one's eventual selfhood on. Children's brains are the most plastic at the early years. A love of science, a love of reading, a love of learning in general, a sense of self worth are the things that need to take root during this time. You can always go back and teach somebody the latest trend in whatever. In fact, there are many helpful magazines that can teach them that their whole worth is wrapped up in whether they are wearing the latest trends! Heck, learning to be stupid and shallow is free in our society.

What we've lost track of is that looks are just the icing on the cake. If your cake tastes like shit or even worse, you have no cake. You're screwed.

Also, bonus sexism:

Our 3 year old son LOVES this game! It has 10 plastic super-hero characters that come apart at the waist. You put the tops on one side, and the bottoms on the other side. Cover them with the provided cups, and uncover to see if you can remember which top and bottom match. Of course, he already knows which pieces go together, I still have to consult the "map"(which incidentally is kind of small). Wish they had a "princess" equivalent game for our 3 year old daughter.

Boys get super strong chracters that can defeat any enemy. Girls get beauties who wear slightly different dresses.

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