I know many people will call their kids “divas” with no bad intentions, just simply to be cute. I have no problem with folks doing that…
To me,it’s not the word that I have an issue with so much, as it is the connotations that go with that phrase.
In my opinion, we are raising girls with the wrong message. Most of you will think I am a femi-nazi, or an extreme feminist, but I think what I’m saying has real validity and implications for our girls. As a mother of a daughter, I take this to heart.
Some friends and I were talking about how clothes for girls are often inappropriate. Words and slogans on the ass of a child’s pants are extremely adult for say, an eight-year old. Camis and padded tanks are almost a given at many children’s stores. I myself am a very small size, and so I have to shop with Tweens or pay 100 bucks a pop to get jeans that fit. When I went in for shorts last summer, I was wondering if the pairs they had on display would show my vaginal lips. I mean, come on!
It’s not just fashion design, but it’s the message and media that is out there for our kids.
While I too love singing a little “Bippity, boppity, boo,” now and again, every single item for girls seems geared for princesses–or princess themes. I recognize that sure, girls inherently (or boys) may like princess themed items without any influence from society, but already people are lining up to get my daughter Barbies…and she’s not even two. People buy princesses chairs, and tell her she is pretty all the time. Now no doubt, my kid is pretty to me and I want her to know that and hear that too, but I would rather someone look her in the face and tell her, “You’re really smart.”
Looks fade. I grew up surrounded by the idea that being perfect was the only real viable way to look, and thanks to that, I have battled with my self-esteem for a very long time. I was very tempted to go under the knife and fix my nose (I didn’t do it), but after the consultation, I chickened out. I wasn’t sure if I could handle my post-surgery response. Some days I wish I did it and consider the option, and other days I think I’m a total idiot for thinking like that and if someone thinks I’m ugly because of my nose then they’re a big fat idiot.
Have you ever taken a quick look at books marketed for young girls?
Pinkalicious? Fancy Nancy? Now I have never read Pinkalicous, so I cannot attest to it, but after reading a few Fancy Nancy books, I was bored to tears. All the girl does is care about fashion and magazines. Now, if she were an awesome designer, that might be cool. If my daughter wanted to design clothes, I would be more than supportive. I love clothes just as much as the next person, but I feel like there are just so few other messages girls get about what they could be, other than the sparkly pretty save-able lovable dramatic female.
Save me! I need to be saved! I am going to be eaten alive by vampires (Isn’t that the whole Twilight thing–Edward saving Bella? I have no idea as I have never read the books or seen the movies.) I am a helpless woman! I can do nothing.
You think this stuff doesn’t exist anymore? I dare you to watch female-dominated TV and tween movies for a month. Come back to me and tell me what you find.
I am a sparkly (sometimes) lovable dramatic female who ashamedly cannot change a tire, but I am also an intellectual and a thinker. A writer. I just wish there was more of a tangible visible presence for girls that went beyond the tank top and nail polish she is wearing.
And back to the word Diva. Most friends call their girls divas because they’re fussy or headstrong…or like nice clothes. I have no problems with that at all. My problem lies that we have this notion in our society thanks to the Real Emptyheaded Housewives, the Kardashians, beauty culture, culture of me, me, me with a skewed narrative about being female.
I’m a female who is full of sex appeal, but I have no idea how to own my own sex appeal; instead, I will just be an item for people to look at, because my looks are my best weapon of course. I’m a “DIVA” because I get my way and don’t let anyone stop me. I’m an entitled bitch. Things should come easy to me, and if they don’t, I want nothing to do with it. I don’t have to talk to you if you don’t dress well. I don’t think about much around in the world, because I have frivolous television and interests to occupy me. I’m all about knowing how to get a guy off and what not to say during sex.
This may sound delusional or judgmental of me, but hey, it’s my five cents, and I think the attitude is prevalent. My friends, of course, are not like this, but I have interacted with this type quite a few times.
And you may ask, “What’s wrong with wanting to please a man?”
Nothing. Nothing at all, but how many women can please themselves and really ask for what they need. Let me differentiate between bitch and diva. A bitch is a phrase most often used for women who go for what they want in the world/workplace, and are resented by men for doing so. In my article, I am saying that a true Diva (not a little girl who dresses sparkly and is sassy, that’s all good and dandy) in today’s day and age is a spoiled, frivolous, and empty woman.
While there have been many words feminists have tried to take and appropriate into a more powerful and less sexist form, like cunt and bitch for example, we should leave Diva at the door.
A girl can be pink and sparkly, or boyish and yellow. A girl can be quiet and logical, or emotional and loud. There is nothing wrong with this…a little Snow White isn’t going to kill the woman inside of the girl, but we need to carefully assess what stories, clothes, songs, and movies are showing our young girls. We need to be sure of the message and the intent these kids are getting.
I know the effects of these messages as I have dealt with them as a teenager. I remember refusing to kiss a boy at twelve thinking, “Why is it so hard to say no?”
Now maybe other women didn’t experience this, but I paid clear and close attention to the female images around me. MTV sold sex, and hey, everyone was buying it. I remember going from being a AAAA nothing to a DD, and feeling like an object overnight. It rocked my world in a way that I am sure no one expected it would. When I see teenage girls today, my first thought is, “If my mother thought I dressed inappropriately, I cannot imagine what she would think of this.”
I fear that my daughter and yours reader, will stop dreaming, and start placating to men and the culture around us. I long for a visible strong and diverse female representation that my daughter can look to and be proud.
All I can ask is that my daughter grows up to be a giving person, who doesn’t give so much that she ends up empty-handed. I ask that she is a woman confident in her own sexuality and in complete ownership without falling prey to what men would like her to be. I ask that she works for what she wants, and gives on the way up, rather than stepping on every heal and head she passes.
My daughter is not a Diva and I can only hope that one day, she will be a Bitch, in the way we feminists appropriated it for ourselves to be: a confident, go-getting, but classy woman who is self-aware and respectful. That is the woman I aim for her to be. If she wants tutus and rainbows, I will go along for the ride just as well as if she wants jeans and sweatshirts.
She is part of my DNA, but she is not me. She is her own unique bit of wonderfulness.