*Originally posted at Seattle Mom Blogs on January 4, 2008.
Last year, before the head-shaving and diving off the deep end incident involving the distraught young celebrity, I was thinking about writing something defending the likes of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton.
Sparked by a February 12, 2007, Newsweek cover, "The Girls Gone Wild Effect: Out-of-Control Celebs and Online Sleaze Fuel a New Debate Over Kids and Values," I felt the need to toss my tiny opinion into the three-ring-circus surrounding these young celebrities and the magnifying glass life they are leading.
Talent aside (because I do not think getting into a debate over the presence of "real" talent when it comes to Paris Hilton, Britney Spears or Lindsay Lohan has anything to do with our obsession with them), the world is watching them.
In our media-driven society, the world is smaller than it used to be. Computers and satellite t.v. reach people in the most remotest of remote places. Advertising is poured down our necks like crack candy and we're eating it up with wild abandon.
The likes of these young women and the sexualization of them is all over the place.
Should we blame them, these children, for being part of the machine that feeds us what we want, what we crave?
We need to blame ourselves.
I remember when Madonna got big. I still have my "Like a Virgin" album. My friends and I wore silly lace skirts, black jelly bracelets and ratted our hair out. We grabbed our fake microphones and gyrated to her music. We were just like her. We were eleven.
The difference between now and then is that instead of playing "dress-up" at home, girls are actually sporting the looks of their most coveted celebrities in real life, in the classroom and at the mall.
Again, who do you think is to blame?
The line has been crossed. No longer are famous people "off limits" to us common folk, they are reachable and if one cannot actually be their favorite celebrity, they can at least look like them, smell like them and act like them.
And if all else fails, there will be a willing mob of paparazzi there to record their every move so that we can further fuel our addiction with them.
Do I think these young role models have made some bad choices? Of course. So did others that came before them, like Mae West, Marilyn Monroe and Madonna. But it is our obsession with them that drives their bad behavior into the lives of our children. It is our addiction that allows us not to say "no" to our daughters when they want to wear a g-string under their low-rise jeans in the 4th grade. It is our fascination that gives girls the message that it is okay to act like these pitiful, sad and desperate young celebrities who are as much a victim of this as we are.
It has to end.
Obviously, we've seen these young women fall to rock bottom. They've been jailed, fined, embarrassed, scrutinized, humiliated, rehabilitated, lost control of their futures and even had their children taken away from them.
Shouldn't this be a signal that it is time to back off? What the media creates is an environment for anyone, especially a young person still so vulnerable, to fail with a guarantee that there will be a hundred cameras there to watch it happen.
As a parent of young children, I really try not to let it in. I am not doing a good job though, as my People magazine fills the mailbox each Saturday and I wait like a kid waiting for the ice cream man, to rip open it's cover and read the latest "gossip."
It's pretty bad when I have to hide the covers because they aren't appropriate for my kids to see.
With a heavy heart, I am not renewing my subscription. I'll have to treat my celebrity magazines as contraband, and make my kids exposure to them as limited as possible.
I think there has to be an understanding on our part. There has to be discussion from a very young age about what is real and what is not. There has to be reinforcement of your individual family values on a consistent basis if you ever want them to stick with your kids.
For with this worldwide and in-your-face exposure of spiraling celebs, there is also an opportunity. An opportunity to teach your children, and if we don't take it, than we, and only we, are to blame.