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May 07, 2009

Leave Carrie Prejean Alone

-7 There is nothing wrong with having nude photos taken. I’ve even done it.  I was nearing my tenth anniversary and the idea just popped into my head as a gift for my husband.  As in, "Gee, I could buy him a beautiful pair of cufflinks at Tiffany's or humiliate myself, naked, in a front of a stranger." The photos were arty and black and white…and no one but my husband will ever, ever, ever see them.  So I don’t think nude photos per se are a bad thing. 

But this woman did not become Miss USA on a whim.  Nabbing that title takes a lifetime of work and parental exploitation determination.  It’s not as if she didn’t know, while flashing her ta-tas, that she was a professional beauty pageant contestant who might, one day, live to regret her choice.

That being said, she was a kid when she did it, and kids can’t be held (as) responsible for their mistakes.  Thank goodness I’ve never been held accountable for some of the TRULY stupid things I did in my teenage years.  The real problem here is not posing topless, not being anti-gay, not even Carrie Prejean herself, but the fact that our daughters are being told – through beauty pageants like Miss USA, that pretty is all that matters.  You can be a homophobe, you can be borderline incapable of literate speech, you can be stupid enough to do something that has the potential to ruin your life’s dream…but if you’re pretty: here’s a crown, here’s some money, here you are being put out there as a role model to girls across the country.  

Why is that acceptable?  Why are teenage girls putting provocative shots of themselves all over their MySpace pages?  Why do they think sending sexy pictures of themselves to a boys is a good way to get him to like them?

Could it be because contests like Miss USA, magazines targeted at teenagers, TV shows, movies, music videos…our entire society, practically, tells these girls in a myriad of ways that their only value lies in their looks and sexuality?

So Carrie Prejean posed topless.  In fifteen minutes, no one will even remember who she is.  But according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in ten teen girls have been abused by a boyfriend. And most of them don't even report it.  Why?  Because they don't think they're worth very much.  I wonder why. 

Of course I’m not blaming it all on the media. All of us who participate in a society that STILL tells young women to value their looks and sexuality above all else…and conveys that same message to boys, are to blame.

I want my daughter to grow up confident in her abilities, sure of her wit and charm, and comfortable with however she looks. I'm sure that Carrie Prejean's parents wanted the same thing for her.  (Except maybe that last part)  The thing is, beauty pageants don't help any of our girls feel better about themselves... except the ones who win.

How about an intelligence pageant -- televised worldwide?  How about a compassion pageant, a humor pageant, an anything but only-how-I-look pageant?

How about we stop blaming Carrie Prejean for what we've become: looks obsessed, hypocritical,and prone to blow out of proportion the ramblings of a twenty-something beauty queen.  

Maybe we're the ones who need to take a good, long look in the mirror, and leave Carrie Prejean alone.

 

Original Post to NYC Moms Blog.

Nancy Rabinowitz-Friedman also blogs at ageless body/timeless mom.com

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