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Girls Gone Good

This week’s Newsweek cover story entitled "Girls Gone Bad" featured the Hollywood girls who are bringing down our family values, or so one might say. Enough already. These girls aren’t destroying the character of young women, we are.

We are the ones fascinated with “prosti-tots.”

We enhance the fascination by watching shows like Access Hollywood and ET that feature Britney’s newest antic. We read People magazine and leave it sitting on the coffee table for our kids to see. It’s time to treat US Weekly like Playboy, the kind of magazine that should be hidden in the back of the closet.

Most of all, parents’ attitudes toward what’s right and wrong for their daughters has been altered by the celebrity tidal wave of over-exposure (in more ways than one). Parents want their daughters to be cool and fit-in because the parents’ egos are rapped up in their kids’ popularity. Parents see what the celebrities and other girls are wearing so, they let their daughters wear crude t-shirts that read “bitch,” revealing mini-skirts and make-up at age 12. Why not? Everyone else is doing it.

Hey, what happened to the word “no?”

When I was 13 years old girls wore strapless dresses to confirmations and Bat Mitzvah’s. I didn’t because my mother said it was “inappropriate for a young girl to wear a strapless dress with cleavage exposed.” “But my friends get to wear them!” I yelled. And the consistent answer was, “I don’t care what anyone else is doing. You live in my house and I pay the bills.” Guess what? I got over it. Nowadays, a strong parent is one who is impervious to comments like “but all my friends are going” and “Lindsay Lohan wore a dress like this.”

Not only do parents need to say “no” more often, they need to present the idea behind the “no.” They need to give their daughters a moral counter-perspective. What is that counter-perspective? To start with, it’s the idea that these girls are riding high on two things, beauty and youth – traits that are both ephemeral and unoriginal. In other words, famous people known for their beauty and youth are a dime a dozen and totally replaceable (as we can tell from playboy Joe Francis’s revolving door of this type of fill-in-the-blank girlfriend). In 5 years time the headlines will declare that some other gang of seductresses are the new “hotties.” Beauty is a nice bonus in life, but what’s lasting is actual talent and upstanding character. If you want your daughter to make her mark on society then teach her the difference between temporary and lasting.

Now this is a hard concept for young kids to grasp, but it doesn’t matter, as long as parents understand the difference between temporary and lasting, right and wrong, and use that concept to help them call up their inner strength to say “no.”

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