Thursday, 12 April 2012
I was at a popular shopping mall with my kids a while ago buying pizza. My children decided to go into the department store so they could see the latest "wii" game if any. As I was about to join them, someone tapped my shoulder and said please Madam Stella, forgive me for being so rude I would like to talk to you and it’s urgent. I said ok no problem what can I do for you? She said can we go to a quiet corner so we can talk better? I said “ok as long as it’s not away from where I can at least keep an eye on my kids. So we walked in and she brought out a magazine, flipped through and pointed at a lady that was almost nude all in the name of fashion. She said she wanted to talk to me because she knew that I was familiar with the person in the magazine. I already new where she was going and started laughing. She got offended and wondered why I found it funny. She then started to raise her voice, saying that those of us that are role models are supposed to be setting good examples, which was very true, and that she has seen over five pictures of me at different events and am always properly dressed and according to her "covered up", which was also true.
I agreed with her and told her I was laughing because I had seen that particular magazine and already had a conversation about it with my sisters and a few of my good friends. One of my friends actually said “the beautiful ones are always properly and decently dressed but the ugly, insecure, non intelligent and shapeless ones are the ones who flaunt those worn out, stretch marked, oversized, body parts that should be left covered”.That was actually the major reason I laughed and by the time I finished the woman was laughing harder than I was. We walked across and sat by the food court and started chatting. Her worries were very justified because she had a sixteen year old daughter who would do anything to become and actress and singer, she has been attending vocal classes just to show her seriousness. Her mum was rightfully worried because her role models are “guess who?”; those same ladies in the entertainment world who give off wrong signals.
It’s a free world we all know that, and people have freedom of expression; we don’t have the right to judge or criticize people; one man’s meat is another man’s poison; this is the 21st century; you must belong so that you can be a happening babe; and so on and so forth. True fact, but at whose expense? I love Asa’s song titled “Fire on the mountain: especially the part where she said “who’s responsible for what we teach our children”, “is it the internet or the stars on television?” why oh why. It's one of my favorite songs so forgive me if I use it all the time. We forget that regardless of civilization, exposure and status; we are still first of all Africans with values, culture e.t.c. Believe it or not these are the things that amaze the western world because they don’t have that. They want to know the way we live, how we think, the way we dress, the way we talk, our tradition and culture, the peculiarity of our film making. They have turned African tradition and culture to major courses in foreign universities, it is mystery to them.
While these are happening we are busy trying to loose all that just to be like them by all means. Most of the copy cats have never even seen the inside of the international airport. It’s basically information from television and magazines. This is really really sad because they think that when you are almost nude, every man will want to get with you right? WRONG! You enjoy all the attention yes but try to tell him to introduce you to his family even as just a friend, then just watch out for his reaction. Trust me the opposite sex will nearly kill his sister or his wife if they dress like that, but they will let you do it because to them you are just a piece of meat. My mother always used to tell me “Dress the way you want to be addressed”.
I went to the one of the cinema houses sometime last year and saw 4 girls in their uniforms that were carrying nap sacks. They called out my name in excitement and ran to me to sign autographs which I gladly did. They left me and I saw an old friend of mine who started chatting with me. In less that ten minutes these same girls came out of the restroom and my jaw dropped with my eyes bulging out in horror. They were wearing serious hot micro daisy duke shorts with halter neck half tops. I couldn’t handle it and it just occurred to me that they packed extra clothes in their bags went to school and came straight from school to the cinema. My first question to my friend was “is there a dress code that I don’t know about for cinema now or is something wrong somewhere? People don’t go into cold cinema halls half naked so they are obviously not there to watch a movie and there was certainly no party there because trust me I actually checked for any event that I did not know of.
When young girls dress like that what do you think they are trying to achieve if not attention. You know that they will definitely not get the right kind of attention. My heart started beating fast and I said a quick prayer asking God to give me the wisdom to train my kids the way my mum trained us. These girls could not have been more than fourteen and that was scary. We need to tell ourselves the truth. I’m going to take time out to explain some of the reasons why this happens and how we could make it better. We should not condemn ladies who dress like that because some of them are going through Psychological issues, leaving in self denial and have lost every ounce of confidence and self esteem to the point where they are screaming “Attention”! To be noticed.
Some of the reasons that I have discovered are: -
1. Upbringing: - this mostly is caused by the way the child is raised and what she is exposed to at an early age. As we know the biggest influence on kids is television. Most parents don’t bother to control what their kids are watching and learning e.g. some music videos are not appropriate for kids because it has become a nude affair and since it is played in the minds of these kids they begin to think it is normal and acceptable especially when no adult is preventing them from watching and telling them it is not right. The parents and older siblings also have to be careful with their own dressing because kids tend to emulate the older ones. Another thing that worries me is the fact that some mothers are actually the ones who buy these clothes for their young daughters. They are the ones that even tell them the names like, daisy dukes, tank tops, halters, strapless, British cores, hipster, low waist jeans that shows the crack of the butt, balloon micro and a host of others.
2. Exposure: - a lot of parents pride themselves with the fact that they can afford the best things in life for their kids which is very good. But they have to be careful what they expose their kids to at an early age. For instance, some parents need to realise that at a certain age there are some places they their young daughters should not go to and there are some friends they cannot be extremely close to. This might sound harsh but trust me the saying “show me your friends and I will tell you who you are” is very strong. My daughter was invited to the shopping mall by her classmate whom she said was also a friend and I insisted that the child minder and my second daughter must accompany her. Hours later when they came back it was my younger daughter that told me that the girl who invited them was wearing the kind of shorts I said they cannot wear. I called the minder so she could explain and she said the girl was wearing hot pants and was pointing at a bottle in the alcohol stand saying that her dad allowed her to drink that adult drink and it was very nice. Of course my older daughter came to me and said, “Mum her shorts had Hanna Montana designs on them and they were really nice”. When I got up and gave my daughter “the look” (she understands that look very well), nobody told her to end her statement with “(but then again it was just too short and I didn’t like that)”. I had to refuse any more gatherings or meetings between my kids and the girl in question because I could only imagine what a little girl her age would already have been exposed to. Kids learn faster from their pears and television. This brings me to the next one.
3. Peer Pressure: - This is the most common one because young girls who are not properly grounded at home can be very gullible. They want to belong, they don't want to be laughed at or ignored; so once they see other girls doing it, getting away with it and attracting the opposite sex, they believe it’s the way forward. I have seen young girls who would rather starve, or not pay for exams or even medicals, than to miss out on the newest skimpy skirt or cleavage showing tops just so they feel accepted by others who are neck deep into it. If a young girl does not follow this trend they are called “old fashioned”, “old school”, “mama Africa”, “sister mary”, “ITK”, “booky” and so on. No young girl wants her peers to call her that, so automatically they would conform.
4. Psychological: - there are various psychological reasons that push young girls into this mode. A lot of young girls cannot handle pressure. It breaks them down. Most of them have parents that are not their friends and therefore cannot share their thoughts and concerns. You find that most of them either bottle these things up and then explode one day and do the extreme; or they avoid the psychological trauma by following others so they are not different.
5. Some young girls have gone through a lot at a tender age which has really disturbed them psychologically. Some have low self esteem, some feel they are not appreciated because they are not as pretty as their sisters or friends; others feel because their parents insult them with words like “ you good for nothing girl”, you are useless in this house e.t.c. The only thing they are good for is using their bodies to attract men to make money so they can be useful. Some actually have said that they were crazy and revealing clothes to make up for other areas of their bodies that are not so nice e.g. face.
You would be surprised that when you listen to most of these young girls talk about reasons behind what they do; instead of judging or insulting them you would be compelled to help them because most of them are misguided and some have been physically and mentally abused. So this for them is their way of rebelling and punishing their folks. We need to find a way of showing them that we are not judging them but we want to help. They have to be taught that "people protect what they love, cherish and respect. So if you treat your body like it's an object or a tool to get something by exposing it and showing the whole world things that should be covered, then it means that you don't love, cherish and respect your body".
A lot of people may hate me or call me names because of this article but like I always say, these are my thoughts and my opinion. I have a responsibility and that is to speak the truth that I know.
Let us try to mentor these girls even when it seems they are not interested.
Stella's Quote of the day: Dress the way you want to be addressed.