Last week I went to see my schools production of Grease. It was really good, and made me wish I could sing and be in musicals, but as it drew to a close, I remembered why the ending of the movie always irked me so much. Throughout the entire show, Sandy was the ‘good girl’. She didn’t drink or smoke or have sex, even after her new friends pressured her to do so. Instead of just telling Danny that he had to accept her for who she was, beliefs and all, or leave, she decided it would be cool to completely change everything she stood for, and turn up in a skin tight leather outfit, with copious amounts of make-up and a cigarette. It just frustrates me so much; why do we think that girls have to change themselves to get the guy? Why are we telling little girls that they can’t get the guy of their dreams while keeping their morals?
Also last week, Erica over at Girl With A Satchel , wrote a post titled Growing Up Girl In A Pop Culture World. We all know how awesome I think Erica is, and when I read this post, it was like she had read my mind. The post was about, well, exactly what the title suggests. As someone who can definitely call herself a child of the pop-culture generation, I found it interesting to read what Erica had to say on the issue:
Is projecting all our worries about porn culture and the sexualisation of tween and teen girls onto Miley Cyrus (or, indeed, Hilary Duff – guilty as charged) helpful? Should we lock Disney princesses up in fortified towers so their youthful curiosity or sexual energy doesn’t get the better of them? Or cover them in veils and long garments to avoid having to look at their burgeoning bodies? Turn our backs in shame when they refuse to play the good girl?
There is plenty of evidence to suggest that the early sexualisation of girls, aided and abetted by porn and raunch culture (increasingly part of popular culture), and arguably Perez Hilton, is to their detriment (I recommend Getting Real for further study). I cringe every time I see one of my nieces (aged three and six) do something behaviourally that’s too mature for them (“Look at me, I’m a supermodel!”; “Look, I’m wearing my bra!” Eek). And I know, without doubt, that the predominant messages they see and here via the media are to blame.
While, as I mentioned, I could be the poster-child for pop-culture, I haven’t been influenced in a negative way like so many girls around me. I think part of that is because of my faith (keep an eye out for this in day three) , and also because I did the whole ‘teen rebellion’ thing in primary school (LOL quack, remember my make-up and supre wearing days? *shakes head*).Still, the effects of the culture we live in are all too easy to see on a quick glance around a playground. I know girls younger than me (so, fourteen or fifteen) who sleep with guys to get them to like them, who smoke because “it’s the cool thing to do” and who drink because “everyone else is”.
In a way, I do believe the media is to blame. I think what was once a message of almost feminism and liberation, that you can sleep with who you want, and do what you want, when you want, has now turned into a ‘you have to do this or risk being shunned from our society’. As Erica continues:
Knowing what I know now, I’d say there’s value in being the puritanical good girl, despite it being the unpopular way to go. Sexual permissiveness isn’t even an issue anymore; it’s the default, rather than the exception. But there is still a massive chasm that exists between what the world values in women, as dictated by men and advertising/media/Hollywood (sex! success! glossy hair! cool clothes! big boobs! tiny butt!), and what God values in women:”Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.
I know all too well how hard and unpopular being the ‘good girl’ is. Personally, I don’t see why there’s such a bad attitude towards the good girl. If anything, we’re showing we have more respect for ourselves. I’m not saying it’s easy, not at all. It is hard and there is pressure. Lots of pressure. Pressure which has caused me to do things I regret doing and will not post here because there is such a stigma attached to them. Sometimes you just feel like no-one will ever accept and like you because you’d rather sit at home watching harry potter musicals on youtube than go out and get smashed from alcohol smuggled into parties in drink bottles. It’s not a fun thing to get your head around, believe me, but the eventual rewards and lack of regrets, will make it worth it in the long run. I hope.
Speaking of harry potter musicals on youtube, in AVPM, when we first meet Hermione one of her song lines goes:
I may be frumpy but I’m super smart. Check out my grades, they’re A’s for a start. What I lack in looks well I make up in heart and well guys yeah that’s totally awesome.
Then later, at the Yule Ball, she says something along the lines of:
I used to think looks weren’t important at all, but now I realise they’re more important than anything.
This line comes after everyone hating on her for the first half of the musical, and being sick of no-one liking her (when really Draco and Ron love her deep down), she has a total transformation so she can become popular. A satire of the yule ball scene in GoF (which thankfully Hermione didn’t stick to), and of society in general, the AVPM scene basically sums up how impossible life as a good-girl can be, and how it’s perceived in society that you have to fit the cookie-cutter perfect girl description to be loved. While I’d never go to the extents of Hermione to get a boy’s attention (I know my Prince Charming is waiting out there for me, and he’ll love me for who I am, not who society wants me to be), I definitely wouldn’t mind Ron and Draco (or you know, Joey and Lauren) singing a song as awesome as Granger Danger about me 😛
Going back to Erica’s post, one of my favourite paragraphs is:
But I believe we can all contribute to correcting this by educating the girls in our lives to apply themselves to their studies, explore their creativity beyond makeup application and make informed choices about their bodies and relationships (and reading/viewing habits). We can make them less vulnerable by making them smart. What girls don’t need is more pressure or judgement.
This is just so true. So so true. We need to start telling the girls of tomorrow that it’s ok to be who they are. That they shouldn’t listen to society and have to develop their own morals and let them know that they are loved, cake-face or not, and that they then need to love themselves. Self-love is something I struggle with to this day, as you may recall from here, but I honestly believe that one day it will be something that will just come naturally to girls. That they don’t have anyone telling them that they’re anything less than perfect. That they can do whatever they want, and don’t have to look or act in a certain way.
While throughout most of this post, pop-culture hasn’t been painted in the best light, there are aspects of it that have helped me realise I’m not alone in my views. Simple acts like the Jonas Brothers, Miley, Selena and Demi being open about their faith and (*ahem* this is a debatable point when it comes to Miley) purity rings, make me feel better about my own beliefs. Having artists like Taylor Swift sing the soundtrack to life as a teen girl and be so happy with herself makes me realise that other people feel what I’m feeling too. Having actresses like Emma Watson make sure they continue their education proves that their is nothing more important than staying school. There are so many amazing role models out there, we need to focus on them instead of the other, not so amazing ones, who paint this negative-influence image in our heads. If we focused less on the chain-smoking, sex addicted starlets of today, and more on the good ol’ Disney kids and not so spotlight obsessed celebs, maybe it would allow us to take a step closer to ridding pop-culture of such a bad reputation.
frangipani princess xoxo