Young girls today have the reputation of being too fast, too grown and just too much all the way around. From BET’s 106 & Park to the streets of Brooklyn and Atlanta, many adults feel that they are maturing at a rate that is detrimental to not only their safety on these mean streets, but to our communities’ evolution at large.
I beg differ.
Sure, booty-shorts and dance moves better suited for Magic City than a junior-high prom are no bueno. But behavior that out-of-order is suspect coming from any woman whether she’s thirteen or thirty-three and is a sure sign of immaturity not growth. The issue I see is the attempt of adults trying to equate over-sexualized behavior with freedom of expression when the two concepts are apples and oranges.
Take Willow Smith for example. She’s smart, precocious, free-spirited and has a penchant for whipping her hair back and forth while sporting punk-rock attire and an “I’m bad and I know it” attitude. Recently, the little diva – and her parents, Hollywood royalty Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith – have come under fire after she tweeted photos of herself with a shaved head.
What many people don’t realize, is that much more than a mere act of defiance, Willow is friends with a young girl named Hayley Okines who suffers from Progeria – a rare genetic disorder that not only produces rapid aging but accelerated hair-loss. In her book, Old Before My Time, little Hayley details her life battles and exhibits a strength absent in women twice her age.
Could it be that Willow shaved her head in a show of solidarity and support? And if so, how powerful is that message for other young girls who have not been taught the concept “I am my sister’s keeper”? Even if she did it simply because she likes the feel of the wind on her dome, whom exactly is she hurting?
While many are rolling their eyes at what they feel is a sign of a young girl gone wild and parents gone crazy, maybe, just maybe, it’s a parenting technique that many of us should implement with our own daughters. It’s entirely possible that allowing our girls to grow into their individuality and purpose without the constraints of a society that only leaves room for them to be virgins or whores is something that we should seriously consider.
True, Willow’s tendency to speak to adults — such as her infamous Oprah interview during which she called the business mogul “Giiirrrl!” and the media’s head exploded — is a little on the sit yo ass down somewhere little girl side, but her spontaneity and ability to know exactly who she at such a young age is something that should be encouraged, not suppressed.
Think about it. How many of us didn’t find out exactly who we were as women until we left home at 18-years-old and proceeded to go through men and money like there was no tomorrow in search of that illusive independence?
How many of us still don’t know?
There are many young girls who a need a lesson in common sense; but, there are just as many grown women who have absolutely no understanding of the term. From my perspective, it all falls back to not being allowed to express themselves in a healthy, structured environment where parents were there to catch them if they made mistakes. Freedom of creative expression doesn’t equal not having home-training. Yes, we need to ensure that our girls have positive role models. Yes, they need to be instilled with that old-school wisdom that nothing is open past midnight but hospitals and legs so they had better be home before we have to come looking for them. What they do not need is for us to pigeon-hole them into that small box labeled “How Young Girls Should Act.”
Are many of our girls out of control? Absolutely. Still, lack of parenting and parenting that takes who our children are as individuals into consideration are two very different beasts.
So, you go ‘head Willow, whip your bald head back and forth and kudos to Jada and Will for having the courage to allow you to do so.
Maybe, if we take heed to their example, there won’t be so many young girls trying to identify with who they think grown women are supposed to be by paying attention to stereotypical images that define us in mainstream media.