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Monday, February 3, 2014

Song-spiration for Girls

Ems here:

I am not a true music aficionado like my husband...his iPod could run for weeks without replaying a song, and they would range from Mozart to Tupac to Macklemore. We joke that I came very "light" in the music department to our marriage. To be exact, I had 11 CDs to contribute to his thousands. I remember when I was a teenager being SO discriminating in my CD choices. They were expensive ($15-20)!! I had to LOVE nearly every track to make the investment. Thus, my selections were also rather eclectic: The Beastie Boys; Jimi Hendrix (tape); Leonard Cohen; They Might Be Giants; Barenaked Ladies; The Steve Miller Band; and Dar Williams. That's all I can remember off hand....

My hubs declares that Dar Williams is probably the only unique contribution I made to his collection, never having heard of her before he met me. She is a lyrically gifted singer-songwriter whose political views definitely do not reflect my own...but I love her songs!

These days, we typically jam to K-Love, the Christian music station. It has surprisingly good songs and they are always uplifting and positive and clean, with no commercials. However, today while in the kitchen washing a boatload of pots and pans with daughter Josephine, I popped on a Dar Williams favorite, a song titled "As Cool As I Am."

Some lyrics are below:

You point you have a word for every woman you can lay your eyes on
Like you own them just because you bought the time
And you turn to me, you say you hope I'm not threatened
Oh, I am not that petty, as cool as I am
I thought you'd know this already
I will not be afraid of women
I will not be afraid of women

Josephine immediately asked, "What is she saying?? I will not be afraid of women?? What does that mean?" It seemed like as good opening as any to talk a little about the dreaded SELF ESTEEM that we all work so hard to instill in our children (some parents work a little too hard, imo, judging from the many American Idol auditions where a horrid teen singer gets booted from the show and whines to the camera that her mommy always told her she had a voice like Celine Dion so the judges must be deaf.)

I just don't believe that giving a kid self-esteem means filling them up with a bunch of hot air--odds are our children aren't the Smartest, the Most Talented, the Best Athlete, the Most Beautiful. They don't need to hear that. I think it's setting them up for a rude awakening down the line.  There is always someone who is more beautiful, more intelligent, more athletic....that's just life. But it doesn't mean we have to live a depressed existence because of that reality. Our identity is more complex and our personhood is more unique. We need not be afraid of women! We need not compare ourselves and find ourselves lacking. We were made for more than this.

I didn't say all this to Jo. I just said, "She's just saying that another girl is really pretty, but she doesn't have to feel jealous because she is happy with herself and God made her just the way He wanted." It seemed like Jo got it...I mean, she listened and smiled and went on her merry way.

We tell our children that they are made beautiful because of the goodness in their spirits and in their actions. We say they look pretty or handsome and that we love them. We guide them as they discover their strengths and weaknesses. We point out that others' have gifts and talents too, and that we all have an obligation to use our gifts for good.

Hand in hand with their own self esteem is the recognition that others have equal value. Girls (and then, women) can be catty creatures, looking to puncture feelings with the casual claw of an offhand insult...we excel at the art of passive aggressive cruelty, both towards those we perceive as easy targets or those whom we see as a threat. 

Walking the line between loving ourselves while recognizing that others will often out-pace us in skills or looks or successes--and consequently not resenting them for that--would be a virtue I want my children (most especially my daughters) to cultivate. Perhaps it's only through grace.

I don't want my girls to be afraid of other women; I want them to see sisters everywhere.

I will save my rants on the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show and the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition and Go Daddy commercials for another blog post, but be warned it's coming soon with a mad vengeance!

Easy Rule #1864: Like starter seedlings, let's nurture these little girls till they have the strength and maturity to be planted and can thrive.

Easy Rule #2689: A little Beastie Boys never hurt anyone. You gotta fight for your right to PAAAAAARRRTY!


  1. Agreed-- I'm going to play this for Grace to see if I can inspire a similar conversation!!!

  2. Did you tell Brian that I used to put Dar on mixtapes for you?