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The Good Old Days

Life360 isn’t the only blog I write for and every so often I like to share a post I wrote for SheHeroes with you guys here at Life360. Especially when it’s nice and ranty and about one of my most passionate topics: the messages the media sends to our kids.

Sometimes, as I manage my way through my thirties, I look in the mirror and ask myself, “When did I become the old ‘Get off my lawn!’ lady”? It seems that everywhere I turn I see things on television or in magazines that make me angry, annoyed, shocked and just downright crabby. Why didn’t the girls on TV make me angry when I was younger? Why was I not offended by television ads when I was in my teens and twenties? Or when I was a tween even (though we weren’t called tweens back then, we were “pre-teens”).  I wasn’t naive; I grew up in a liberal hippy house with a nose for feminism. Why didn’t these things make me angry before?

Yes, I know part of me is obviously more aware now for the plain simple fact that I am a mother of both a boy and a girl. So I have a much deeper stake in what messages the media is sending out there. These are my children that are getting these messages, my children who will someday be teenagers and adults and the parents to my grandchildren. So yes, that does make me more aware, but I know that isn’t the only reason I regularly am shocked by what the media puts out there. Recently I finally figured out why.

I was watching reruns  (as I often do with my kids) of some of my favorite 80s sitcoms. And I watched very closely the girls in these sitcoms and realized, I wasn’t angry or upset as a teen, because I wasn’t seeing half dressed brain dead girls who weighed 9- pounds on TV when I was growing up.

I was watching the beautiful daughters of Cliff and Clair Huxtable on the Cosby Show. Girls, who were funny, hip, gorgeous and BRILLIANT. Over on Growing Pains I was watching Carol Seaver who, despite being made fun of by her brother (who was not exactly known for being smart), was a total book worm school loving smart girl, who still managed to get the captain of the football team. I was watching the tough, black-eyed, baseball playing, tough talking Sam Micelli on Who’s The Boss. Who despite acclimating herself to the Connecticut suburbs never lost her edge or her brains. And always had Chad McCann knocking at her door… Or the girls of one of my favorite shows, Head of the Class. They were the smartest girls in school. Still pretty, still cool, and wicked smart when it comes to math.

Back then, the only reality TV were the documentaries on PBS or Dateline specials. Back then, real housewives of any county were too busy being housewives to waste time on TV. And celebrity divorces got a write up in US Weekly, People magazine and the Enquirer. And that was it. They weren’t reported about on the evening news.

On my stereo I was listening to girls like Tiffany and Debbie Gibson. Wholesome girls who where excellent role models who were curvy and gorgeous, dressed and looked like girls I actually knew and never shaved their heads or were caught dancing topless at an LA club. Granted as an ADULT woman Tiffany did pose for playboy, but guess what I was an adult by then too and was not too fazed by her choice. Women like Queen Latifah and Lita Ford were out there making a name for themselves in rock and rap. Strong women, who could rock and rhyme just as hard as any of the men who they competed with on the charts.

Even Madonna, who despite her risqué and sexy persona, managed to preach to a generation of girls that THEY control their own lives. Not THEY, but WE controlled our own lives. WE were the captains of our destiny and we should never ever accept being second best in anything we do.

The magazines I read would be full of more than just make-up tips. In the pages of YM I would see girls who’s smiles might have been a little brighter and clothes a little nicer, but for the most part they looked like me. Or at least enough of them looked like me, to make me OK. And in Sassy magazine, I found articles that helped shape who I am today. Not articles about make-up or Kim Kardashian, or how to lose 50 pounds in a week. But articles on date rape, the environment, politics, racism, eating disorders, AIDS and a number of other relevant subjects that I still care about today.

All these things are missing today, that’s why the media messages out there drive me so crazy. Unlike when I was growing up, there is no balance to them. My generation may have had negative messaging, I think that has existed as long as the media has existed, but at least we had some balance. At least there were lines of decorum and morality that were hardly ever crossed. And when they were crossed, there was usually some deep political or artistic reason for doing so. The line wasn’t crossed just for the sake of crossing it. Now that line is so worn out, most of us hardly remember there was a time when it was there.

Where are the Sassy magazines? Where are the pop queens and powerful diva’s singing about power and independence and making videos where they are wearing clothes on MTV today? Where are the Samantha Micelli’s and Huxtable girls today?

It’s not just about the lines companies and advertisers keep crossing in the messages they are sending. It’s the messages that MY generation was being sent, that at some point stopped coming.

So maybe it’s time I, (and by I, I actually mean WE) stop focusing on the messages being sent in mainstream media and start focusing our energy on the messages NOT being sent.

Are you a screenwriter? Well start writing that treatment for a new TV show. Start downloading the albums of that spectacular unheard of female artist you just discovered and tell all your friends about her. Stop buying magazines and for the love of all that’s good and holy turn off MTV.

And please, please Jane Pratt if ever there was a time to bring Sassy back. It would be now.

Lets bring back the good girls on TV, the power divas with clothes on MTV and the magazines that actually teach girls something that enriches their life.

20 Responses to “The Good Old Days”

  1. Cindi Hoppes

    I have two sons and don't appreciate how males are interpreted in our society…..
    If they are too good, they are not masculine enough, and if they are the other
    extreme, they are bullies! Where is that nice in between?!
    Thanks, Cindi

    Reply
  2. Julie

    I agree. There are some people who shelter their daughters from all media so that they don't receive negative messages, but think of all of the good that positive messages could do!

    Reply
  3. jennifer orr

    I have a younger brother who I am legal guradian to. He is 6'5 and 350lbs and 16 years old people think that because he is big he is a bully. Which i know is part of what is on tv the big guys always picking on the little guys. so when he is nice people make fun of him for doing the nice thing, or the right thing. I wish there were messages out there that promote people of all sizes to do the right thing.

    Reply
  4. Cathi Foster

    I love this article and let me tell you why. Because I believe in the power of positive words. I believe in the power of family and I believe in turning the television off while you eat dinner, and making sure you kiss and hug your children every single night before bed. I think the people of today's society have lost track of the basics. We have that innate need for instant gratification and the need to have all the drama. Let's take Baby Lisa for example, are we all really concerned about that baby, or are we more concerned about if the mom or dad is guilty?? I know that was a horrible statement to read, it was a horrible statement to type but I think our society needs to get back to where we are supposed to be!!

    Reply
  5. Estelle S

    I agree wholeheartedly with this post! I have a tween and a teen daughter. It's so hard raising the girls right these days, especially with the way the media is these days. I was glancing through one of the girl's magazines the other day and it seemed like every article was about "hot" guys or how to make a "hot" guy like you…Sheesh. That, in combination with all the pictures of supermodel looking girls in the magazine was enough to drive me nuts. What about the other aspects of a girl's life: school, family, work, friends?? Aren't those things still important enough to publish about in a magazine?

    Reply
  6. Lovely Light

    Yes, bring Sassy back! It was the only magazine my mom let me subscribe to. You're upset because you know and understand more about this world than your 10 year old self did. You understand consequences and are not jsut concerned about yourself any more.

    Reply
  7. Sleepyheadedmom

    It bothers me in some ways and in some ways it does not. Once I became a parent I made a concious decision to try to keep things balanced myself. I can’t control what is on tv but I can control to a certain degree how much my child sees. I in no way want to shelter my child too much so I will just explain things the best that I can. That “reality shows” are not reality. That you don’t need to be everything everyone else is.

    Reply
  8. beth

    I think everyone always looks back on the "good old days" with wanting, but forgets that bad things happen then to. During the 80s, AIDS wasn't talked about like it is today, people thought you could get it just by touching someone, and for every powerful pop girl, there were plenty who were dressed in next to nothing gyrating next to a man. You can still find good role models if you look

    Reply
  9. Donna F.

    It's amazing how things change over the years. There certainly were not TV shows like Gossip Girl when I was in high school (although I admit i enjoy watching it). Reality shows these days are truly ridiculous. They are mostly scripted and do not really portray reality. Unfortunately, this sounds out a bad message to our youth about how people live their lives.

    Reply
  10. Mike

    I recently started watching Law & Order on Netflix streaming. It was amazing how misogynist it was for the first couple of years – all male cast, really condescending towards women, etc. If it came out now like that, I wouldn't have ever started watching it.

    I have always loved X-Files, which I am watching from the beginning on Netflix streaming, too. Mulder's attitude towards Scully can be incredibly sexist. He ignores her input, acts all macho and puts her down. Of course, what can you expect when both of them wear these coats with shoulder pads in them that make them both look like NFL linebackers.

    I never noticed these things when either of these shows came out in first run. I guess it shows just how much society's attitudes have changed since the early '90's.

    Hopefully, TV will improve – okay, so it might improve. Meantime, people should realize that the people on TV aren't real, (all problems are solved in an hour; people, meet, fall in love, get married, get divorced in a couple of hours, etc), and try not to emulate them.

    mtdoonmeister at gmail dot com

    Reply
  11. Angela

    i wish they had shows on like they use to and why do things in this world have to change so much. cant things just stay the same. just simple and not so complicated.

    Reply
  12. Sherrie

    Life has certainly evolved. There was a time when my whole world consisted of an Easy Bake Oven, skates and a Barbie doll. ♥

    Reply
  13. Norm

    When I was young we played cowboys and indians or cops and robbers with cap guns and we knew the difference between playing and reality. Nowadays its all kinds of violent games on various gaming systems and reality and the real world. And bullying wasn't put on the internet or carried as far as it is today. We had no internet.

    Reply
  14. Lisa Burke Cook

    Life and times have change since I was a kid that is for sure, times were easier and more laid back and enjoyable. we have to really watch our children now days I have 4 girls ages 24,22,17,15 and its hard we teach them correctly but we can only hope the values we instilled into them they will respect and do them to be better role models out there for the younger kids.

    Reply
  15. Jeni

    I have 5 kids, 1 girl and 4 boys. One thing that I hate more than anything is the way in which men are portrayed as being superior and woman are constantly degraded. I used to, in my teens and early twenties, listen to hip hop music. Now I find is so repulsive that I forbid my children to listen to it. I often wonder when did I become my mother as she did the same kinds of things to me. I have also banned my children from watching anything that is not educational. I used to only allow them to watch Nickelodeon and Disney channel but even some of their shows I feel are inappropriate. I just simply don't understand the images that society sets out there for our youth and the subsequent negative feedback about how our youth behaves. They, the media, need to take a long good look in the mirror to see that they are a lot of the cause.

    Reply
  16. Valerie Mabrey

    I too want sassy back. Girls on tv do not seem to have the girl next door image anymore.
    vmkids3 at msn dot com

    Reply
  17. Sarah L

    I do not even own a TV any more. I borrow good movies from the library and watch them on my laptop. I was too tired of all the bad programming and ads on TV.

    Reply
  18. Michelle Tucker

    I miss those days. We grew up at the same time it sounds. I can't even stand watching a sitcom now.

    Reply
  19. Charity S

    Yeah, it's painful to watch all of the garbage geared towards kids. I love to reminisce about how great things use to be.

    Reply

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