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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Beliefs, Values and Little Girls

First I need to say that this post is my opinion, belief, value system, etc. I have featured some amazing women on my blog this week and I want to continue in that stream. I am not posting about a specific woman today but about women in general.

My thoughts are forever connecting and expanding; that usually takes me to new places in my mind. I read an article in the Washington Post that got me thinking ~ as the Post always does. It was called In Art We Lust. The caption under the title reads "At second blush, classic works are allowed to rise to their full erotic potential." Please read it for yourself. It may evoke your own thoughts and feelings and I would love to hear them.

Women have always been depicted in art. Why? Because the women's body is unsurpassed in it's beauty.

One look at Gisele and you can see why. Men want to look at women they consider beautiful and want to imagine having sex with them. As if that is a surprise to anyone. So women have been depicted in art often as nudes. There has been many wonderful pieces of art devoted to nudes.

Canova, the famous sculptor, did several including the one below.

He also did men.
But covered the genitalia with a fig leaf.

I think women look at men they find attractive and wonder what it would be like to have sex with them too. Does that surprise anyone? I doubt it ~ if you're honest with yourself. And why not? Sex is pleasurable. I think for women, there are so many double standards that if a certain generation of women states for the record they like sex, it would almost be taboo. I believe that 'sex' was experienced as painful by prior generations, and perhaps still is by some women today. It can be painful if foreplay never enters the picture. Hmmm??? Where is the love, where's the pleasure?

Where am I going with this... well there is also another side of art depicting women. There are countless pieces that depict women being ravaged apparently against their will, there are scenes of violence towards women. 'Sex' can also be against one's will ~ this is known as rape. All of these have been depicted in art. Why? For power and control. Violence against a woman is an issue of power and control. Those that depict these events in art either have distinct issues with power and control or were trying to shed light on the issue. If we consider what is happening in Uganda ~ we can see that the issue is a major one ~ major.

In Uganda and other countries in Africa, the issue is so in-grained, so cultural that outside intervention is the only way to end it. Much like outside intervention had to occur to stop Hitler. There were those that believed differently than he but risked being persecuted if they were defiant. Is the issue in Uganda so different? Lives of women and girls are taken daily. Daily.

The statistics and laws in our own country (US) (please excuse the link ~ just click on the top link when the Oops! page comes up; I don't know why it won't go directly) about domestic violence would make your jaw drop. This country has learned by making mistakes ~ domestic violence is no different. Many women died with little consequence for the abuser. It wasn't until 1994 ~ 1994 ~ that the US Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act as part of a federal crime bill. That was not that long ago ladies. And we wonder why we still feel disrespected sometimes. It was relatively okay by our government standards to be disrespected. You know I am on the Board of Directors at LAWS (Loudoun Abused Women's Shelter). You may help by clicking here.

This is all very heavy, I know. But I wanted to talk about what we can do for our girls. You have read on my blog that I think we perpetuate the ideal beauty ~ as in Gisele ~ to a height of the God-like proportions. Do I think the gorgeous Gisele and others who look like her are to blame? NO! They look like that just like I look the way I do. It is believing that these gorgeous creatures are the standard, that is how one SHOULD look because that's what beautiful. Bullshit! Do I like to feel beautiful, be seen as alluring ~ of course. I would be lying if I said differently. However, I was raised to believe that the beauty on the inside is significantly more important.

Let's look at another woman I have written about.....

This is film director Jane Campion. Did you see the movie The Piano? A magnificent movie if you ask me. What she depicted in the movie was incredible ~ an obscure path to love. That came from within her. That is one beautiful woman!

My mom is an immigrant. She came to this country in the 1950s by herself ~ unheard of at that time ~ a woman coming to a new country by herself?!! She came here to study at a university. She met my dad and got married. More typical of that time. Then my dad became disabled. My mom had three children to take care of pretty much on her own (ages 7, 6, and 4 at the time). She had no family in this country. She relied on friends. She relied on herself. When money got tight, she opened her own school and taught Spanish. She was very successful. She raised us. She did volunteer work ~ always ~ to this day. Here's what I value, what I believe ~ because she taught me:

1) Confidence
2) Value Education ~ development your mind and then use it
3) Independence ~ rely on yourself ~ its a sure thing
4) Kindness
5) Empathy
6) Love
7) What to wear ~ be a lady
8) Be mindful of your manners
9) Help others ~ be generous
10) Be beautiful inside first then outside
11) Be strong

Don't get me wrong, it wasn't all perfect ~please! ~ but those values and beliefs sunk in. These values and beliefs have sustained me. These are what we can give our girls. I have added to the list:

12) Stand up for yourself and for others who need help doing so
13) It's ok to be afraid just don't let it rule you ~ venture forward with the fear informing you along the way
14) Speak your mind ~ clearly, concisely
15) Feel your feelings ~ pay attention to them ~ let them help guide you
16) Be well-rounded
17) Be open minded
18) Lead
19) Enjoy life
20) Be respectful

I believe this is how a little girl becomes a beautiful woman ~ maybe an amazing woman. Perhaps even help them avoid or detangle themselves from an unhealthy or abusive relationship.

I have written about Lauren many times. You know I expose her the arts as often as I can. She has the theater bug now and enjoys doing plays. My daughter is six years old. Lauren looks the audience in the eye, she articulates her lines so all can hear her. She is confident. Do I beam at her from the audience ~ you bet I do. Its funny, I could always hear my mom in the audience when I performed in shows. She clapped so loud and yelled Brava! I was a little embarrassed by it at the time (being a tween). But now, I appreciate every clap, every standing ovation (even if it was only her). Why? Because she believed in me ~ that came across loud and clear. Now I believe in Lauren. What greater belief can there be?

Oh yeah, the lovely Gisele volunteers too, just like my mom, just like me. How gorgeous are we??!

Please share your values and beliefs to help make little girls into beautiful, strong women ~ we're all in this together.

P.S. Would my list change if I was raising a little boy? No except for one thing ~ I'd teach him how to dress well ~ but not like a lady.


  1. This is quite a post, and I appreciate it. I find it one of my biggest joys to raise my daughter, yet also so full of concerns.

  2. I have both a boy and girl... My biggest value to them is respect yourself and others. If you don't have that, you have nothing. As my 5 year old daughter gets older. I will tell her if she wants to dress in a sexy way than that is what she will get. But by being a bit more modest and still looking your best, people will get to know you for who you are...

  3. What a thoughtful post. We certainly need to teach our daughters their value.

  4. What a thought-provoking and beautiful post! Thought provoking in how women have been depicted over time and beautiful in how you remind us to help our children embrace their inner beauty and let that shine through.

  5. beautiful post! I have a daughter and two sons...with my boys, I teach them everything from housekeeping to cooking so that one day they'll make good husbands (chores are not just woman's work). Your lists are in my daily raising of my kids. It's so important. Chivalry is not dead in my house. I believe to this day that every man needs to treat women special, with kindness, respect and like every single one is a lady even if they're not acting lady-like. Unfortunately woman have had to fight so hard for independence etc., that some have lost sight that chivalry is respect, not disrespect.

  6. What a great post, Paula Grace.

    I appreciate your honesty and thoughts on such an important subject! Your list is perfect.

    It wasn't until I was about 20 that I began to really appreciate the strong values that were taught to me by the women in my life, like you, especially by my Mother.

    A few things that come to mind...

    * love and mutual respect
    * to find a man who sees me as an equal, but separate being
    * be kind to everyone, no matter their actions, class, etc.
    * follow your dreams and passions
    * be thankful for everything we have
    * be grateful for what the future holds
    * be thankful and listen to your elders
    * use your gifts!
    * remember that good thoughts and laughter are contagious and healthy on the heart :)

  7. You gals are awesome! Thank you for taking the time to read my post AND leave a thoughtful comment.

  8. Paula - what a beautiful, thoughtful post! I've forwarded a link on to my mum!


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