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.


Bad choices…no wait…just plain stupid decisions!

Okay, I know I have written before about various odds and ends news stories, and I don’t plan to make it a common occurrence (although it may become a once-a-week posting), but I had to comment on three different stories that are gaining some national press time.  These are stories about people that are just plain stupid…or at least come across that way based on a decision that they have made.  I don’t know which story is the worst or which I should really start with.  It is funny just wondering what these people were (and may still be) thinking.  Since I haven’t been real kind with Wal-Mart lately, let’s start with a story that involves yet another Wal-Mart story across the country.

You may have seen this story already, about a guy in New Jersey that was arrested for shoplifting at the local Wal-Mart.  To keep it short, Irwin Krakow had lost a bet.  As the loser of the bet, he had two choices on how to pay up.  First, he could run naked through the street.  Or he could go to Wal-Mart and shoplift $50 worth of items.

I wonder what his decision-making process was on this.  I can see him thinking it through – “I am 58 years old, can’t run that fast, and wouldn’t look very attractive naked, so I think I will steal something” – or something like that.  Maybe he looked up the penal codes for the area to see which crime would give him the lowest fine/jail time.  Who knows?  Irwin does, and it was probably something more along the lines of – “shoplifting could be pretty easy, especially if the items are small enough for my pockets.”

He might have gotten away with running through the streets naked.  We’re talking New Jersey where you can see plenty of skin on MTV’s Jersey Shore.  Would anyone have really cared?  He even lamented about shoplifting after the fact, not because it was wrong, but because the fine for running through the streets naked would have been cheaper.

But he chose instead to take a USB card, two spoons, a nutcracker, a decorative tree, and t-shirts.  Okay, he must not have been thinking about things that could be hidden in his pocket.  How in the world was he going to hide a decorative tree?  The other items could easily be hidden, but a tree.  Maybe he was hiding behind the tree on his way out the door.  “Pay no attention to the decorative tree walking out the door… it probably just needs some fresh air and rain water to liven it up.”

I don’t know what is worse about this story…the fact that he didn’t even get the $50 in merchandise as was the payoff rule, or the fact that he somehow got out of the store with a decorative tree.  Kind of makes the Wal-Mart employees seem “not-so-smart” as well.  Maybe we should hook him up with Hersha Howard.  They could probably enjoy some time together in the slammer.

She was arrested and charged with assault for beating up her roommate.  Why would she do such a thing?  Because the roommate supposedly ate her prized Thin Mints cookies.  I don’t know about you, but those are some prized cookies.  So prized, that Hersha decided to attack her roommate with scissors, a sign, and a board.  Assault with a deadly weapon charges and $10,000 bail later, she might just want to re-think her intelligence in that decision.  Maybe she should have contacted Irwin and asked him to shoplift some Thin Mints for her while he was at it.

I don’t think she would have overreacted if she knew the whole story behind the disappearing cookies.  The roommate claims that she gave the cookies to Hersha’s kids.  The kids in turn mailed the cookies to Estibalis Chavez.  They don’t want to see her die of hunger.

What the kids don’t realize is that Estibalis is voluntarily on a hunger strike.  Why?  It isn’t because of all the beans that she has grown tired of eating.  No, instead she decided to starve herself until she gets an invitation to Prince Williams wedding to Kate Middleton.  Is she a BFF that Kate forgot about?  Was she de-friended on Facebook for showing favoritism to Prince Harry?  What would cause her to not get an invitation to the wedding of the year?

You got your invitations right?  I am sure mine is in the mail so I am not worrying about it at all.  I guess this 19-year-old just doesn’t have patience to see if it was held up in the mail.  After all, it is international and my experience with letters going internationally is that it can take a few weeks.  Good grief Estibalis, give it a chance to arrive.  Maybe they didn’t put enough postage on it.  Maybe the drug cartel intercepted it temporarily so that they could take all the gold leafing off to help pay for the next shipment. 

Just be patient.  And while you are waiting, have a dish of beans, and maybe some chicken.  You don’t want to be too thin when you arrive at the wedding ceremony otherwise nobody will recognize you and you won’t be let in.  The ceremony at Westminster Abbey is still two months away.  If you starve yourself that long, Irwin might mistake you for his decorative tree because your arms and legs will be about as thick as the branches.  It won’t be a pretty sight, especially if you get re-stocked at Wal-Mart.

Just another view from a Palmtree.