A Timely Message for Parenting

I don’t normally do this, but for this blog I am not writing.  I am just simply copying and pasting an article that I read that needs more views, more publicity, more screentime.  I wouldn’t do this if I didn’t agree.  So when you get to the end of the posting, and you see the disclaimer that it is merely the opinion of the writer, know that it is my opinion as well.  Kudos to LZ Granderson for writing it.

Editor’s note: LZ Granderson writes a weekly column for CNN.com. A senior writer and columnist for ESPN The Magazine and ESPN.com, he has contributed to ESPN’s “Sports Center,” “Outside the Lines” and “First Take.” He is a 2011 and 2010 nominee and the 2009 winner of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation award for online journalism and a 2010 and 2008 honoree of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association for column writing.

Grand Rapids, Michigan (CNN) — I saw someone at the airport the other day who really caught my eye.

Her beautiful, long blond hair was braided back a la Bo Derek in the movie “10” (or for the younger set, Christina Aguilera during her “Xtina” phase). Her lips were pink and shiny from the gloss, and her earrings dangled playfully from her lobes.

You can tell she had been vacationing somewhere warm, because you could see her deep tan around her midriff thanks to the halter top and the tight sweatpants that rested just a little low on her waist. The icing on the cake? The word “Juicy” was written on her backside.

Yeah, that 8-year-old girl was something to see all right. … I hope her parents are proud. Their daughter was the sexiest girl in the terminal, and she’s not even in middle school yet.

Abercrombie & Fitch came under fire this spring for introducing the “Ashley,” a push-up bra for girls who normally are too young to have anything to push up. Originally it was marketed for girls as young as 7, but after public outcry, it raised its intended audience to the wise old age of 12. I wonder how do people initiate a conversation in the office about the undeveloped chest of elementary school girls without someone nearby thinking they’re pedophiles?

What kind of PowerPoint presentation was shown to the Abercrombie executives that persuaded them to green light such a product?

That there was a demand to make little girls hot?

I mean, that is the purpose of a push-up bra, right? To enhance sex appeal by lifting up, pushing together and basically showcasing the wearer’s breasts. Now, thanks to AF Kids, girls don’t have to wait until high school to feel self-conscious about their, uhm, girls. They can start almost as soon as they’re potty trained. Maybe this fall the retailer should consider keeping a plastic surgeon on site for free consultations.

We’ve been here with Abercrombie before — if you recall, about 10 years ago they sold thongs for 10-year-olds — but they’re hardly alone in pitching inappropriate clothing to young girls. Four years ago the popular “Bratz” franchise introduced padded bras called “bralettes” for girls as young as six. That was also around the time the good folks at Wal-Mart rolled out a pair of pink panties in its junior department with the phrase “Who Needs Credit Cards” printed on the front.

I guess I’ve been out-of-the-loop and didn’t realize there’s been an ongoing stampede of 10-year-old girls driving to the mall with their tiny fists full of cash demanding sexier apparel.

What’s that you say? Ten-year-olds can’t drive? They don’t have money, either? Well, how else are they getting ahold of these push-up bras and whore-friendly panties?

Their parents?

Noooo, couldn’t be.

What adult who wants a daughter to grow up with high self-esteem would even consider purchasing such items? What parent is looking at their sweet, little girl thinking, “She would be perfect if she just had a little bit more up top.”

And then I remember the little girl at the airport. And the girls we’ve all seen at the mall. And the kiddie beauty pageants.

And then I realize as creepy as it is to think a store like Abercrombie is offering something like the “Ashley”, the fact remains that sex only sells because people are buying it. No successful retailer would consider introducing an item like a padded bikini top for kindergartners if they didn’t think people would buy it.

If they didn’t think parents would buy it, which raises the question: What in the hell is wrong with us?

It’s easy to blast companies for introducing the sexy wear, but our ire really should be directed at the parents who think low rise jeans for a second grader is cute. They are the ones who are spending the money to fuel this budding trend. They are the ones who are suppose to decide what’s appropriate for their young children to wear, not executives looking to brew up controversy or turn a profit.

I get it, Rihanna’s really popular. But that’s a pretty weak reason for someone to dress their little girl like her.

I don’t care how popular Lil’ Wayne is, my son knows I would break both of his legs long before I would allow him to walk out of the house with his pants falling off his butt. Such a stance doesn’t always makes me popular — and the house does get tense from time to time — but I’m his father, not his friend.

Friends bow to peer pressure. Parents say, “No, and that’s the end of it.”

The way I see it, my son can go to therapy later if my strict rules have scarred him. But I have peace knowing he’ll be able to afford therapy as an adult because I didn’t allow him to wear or do whatever he wanted as a kid.

Maybe I’m a Tiger Dad.

Maybe I should mind my own business.

Or maybe I’m just a concerned parent worried about little girls like the one I saw at the airport.

In 2007, the American Psychological Association’s Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls issued a report linking early sexualization with three of the most common mental-health problems of girls and women: eating disorders, low self-esteem and depression. There’s nothing inherently wrong with parents wanting to appease their daughters by buying them the latest fashions. But is getting cool points today worth the harm dressing little girls like prostitutes could cause tomorrow?

A line needs to be drawn, but not by Abercrombie. Not by Britney Spears. And not by these little girls who don’t know better and desperately need their parents to be parents and not 40-year-old BFFs.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of LZ Granderson.


Stuck on a Bad Romance…

To start with, this is not about my relationship with my wife. It would be stupid of me to share that kind of information (if it existed) on a public forum like this. Nor is this a confession of an affair. That would be even more stupid. Think about it…who in their right mind would use a public forum to admit an affair or rag on their spouse or both? Oh wait, there are many examples of just that floating around inside that famous cloud of social media websites. I however, am not here to do that. No, this posting is about something completely different.

So I got out of bed this morning and sat down on my thinking chair and for some dumb reason I can’t explain, Lady Gaga was going through my head. Yes, Bad Romance was stuck and wouldn’t stop playing. To make matters worse, it was stuck in broken record mode where only a couple of lines from the song were repeating. Gaga, ooh la la. Ugh!!!!

I will admit it is a catchy tune. If I were a dancing man, I would be busting a move like no other. I could be a “little monster” like any other Gaga fan. But I’m not…not a fan, not a dancing man, not a little monster of any sort. Yet here I was, fresh out of bed, listing to a song in my head that I hadn’t actually heard playing since last Saturday. And that got me thinking…

(By the way, when I am sitting on the thinking chair, I assume the “Thinker” position and let the thoughts run wild. It is easier to pass the time that way. It also lets me go back to sleep on the chair while keeping my body propped up.)

So the question came to mind, “What is it that makes a song get stuck in your head?” It is subliminal? Is it emotional? What is it? Please, somebody answer me.

Bad Romance is just the latest culprit. And I think the reason why is two-fold. First of all, the music is fun. There is a catchy beat and a quick rhythm to it all. That has to account for something because I have never had a song that is completely opposite of that description, such as Amazing Grace, stuck in my head.

The second reason, at least as it relates to me, is that I think the song is too goofy to be considered a good song. That is probably why Macarena got stuck in my head quite a bit. How about “What is Love” by Haddaway. Another pointless song with a good beat. (Although that song could get stuck in your head just by watching Chris Kattan and Will Ferrell bobbing their heads in sync with the bass line.) Rhythm is a Dancer…and these are all songs with a rhythm that makes you want to dance. If you like to dance. And for those that are of the younger generation and have never heard those last three songs, your equivalent can be found on any of the three High School Musical soundtracks. Just pick any of the songs…they all fit the bill.

Maybe the problem is me. I should probably like all songs that have a good beat, no matter how ridiculous the words may be. I should want to get up in the aisles to swing my hips and shuffle my feet. I know you do. But I am not you, and you are probably very grateful about that. And I just don’t want to get up and dance with somebody…even if it was sung by Whitney Houston (whose own goofy behavior over the last few years could rival that of Lady Gaga). Sorry honey, you can dance, you can jive, having the time of your life, but you won’t be digging this guy as a dancing queen. (Okay, that just gave me a scary visual that I need to quickly delete from my brain.)

So here is my proposal to the world…I’ll stick to listening to motion picture scores and some of my favorite 80’s music hoping to change the playlist in my head. You keep on checking in on me to see if my opinions have changed. Something is bound to happen. What? I guess we will have to wait and see. In the meantime, I do want to be your friend and don’t want to be caught in a bad romance.

Just another view from a palmtree.