Happy Slutty Halloween

Posted on: 10/28/13 3:01 AM | by Jonathan McKee

mean-girls-Halloween-slut“In the real world, Halloween is when kids dress up in costumes and beg for candy. In Girl World, Halloween is the one day a year when a girl can dress up like a total slut and no other girls can say anything else about it.”   -Cady, Mean Girls

Maybe it’s because I’ve been on shopping excursions with my two teenage girls…

Maybe it’s because I know America’s growing obsession with sex in entertainment, like so many movies this fall

Maybe it’s because I’ve read this entire report from the American Psychological Association (APA) about the negative effects of the “sexualization” of our young girls… Continue reading “Happy Slutty Halloween”

Teen Social Media Hookup Culture Unveiled

Posted on: 10/3/13 3:01 AM | by Jonathan McKee

My Twitter followers saw me link an article Tuesday morning I described as the most accurate article I’ve ever read about today’s social media hookup culture. It’s a day later, and I stand my ground.

Don’t misinterpret my words: I’m not saying the activities described in this article are what every kid is doing “on Facebook” (Omegle? Probably so), but I would say that I observe the ripple effect from this subculture rocking Continue reading “Teen Social Media Hookup Culture Unveiled”

Evolution of the Bikini

Posted on: 07/10/13 3:01 AM | by Jonathan McKee

How do most guys respond when they see a woman in a bikini?

That’s what a group of men at Princeton sought to discover. In their study they showed men photographs of scantily clad women and observed brain activity.

“They are responding to these photographs as if they were responding to objects.”

This is just a snippet of the research clothing designer Jessica Rey shares in this fascinating little YouTube video about the history of the bikini:

This video probably provokes polar responses from audiences, cheers from one end and sneers from the other (the teenage side of the audience). And that’s what I like about it. It’s heated topics like this that Continue reading “Evolution of the Bikini”

The Paradoxical World of Teens

Posted on: 06/28/13 2:57 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Marko just wrote an amazing article for our parenting page this week about the paradoxical world of teenagers.

If you have a young teenager in your home… you probably have experienced this.

Here’s just a snippet of that article:

They want to be treated like adults, but have the opportunity to act like children. This has enormous implications. They’re caught in an in-between world. They know where they want to go: they know they want to be treated like adults, to have more freedoms, to make more decisions on their own, to not be treated as if they were 4th graders. It’s important to talk to young teens with an adult voice, and to begin the move to a come-alongside perspective.

But at the same time, they are still very much children, and need Continue reading “The Paradoxical World of Teens”

Real Beauty Sketches

Posted on: 05/2/13 3:01 AM | by Jonathan McKee

This brand new video from Dove was posted on April 14, 2013, and within two weeks it already had over 30 million views. The message of the video is simple: You are more beautiful than you think.

This video documents a little experiment. A forensic artist was asked to draw sketches of women based on their own descriptions. The artist can’t see the women making the descriptions… he just draws what they describe. Then he sketches another drawing based on how others describe these same women. Then we see the images side by side.

Wow!!! Take a peek at this amazing video.

My son Alec was the one who made me aware of this video. One of his ministry classes at Azusa Pacific University discussed it when it was first released and Alec posted it on his Facebook page. This discussion provoker was too good to pass up, so I wrote something you can use Continue reading “Real Beauty Sketches”

Sexy Little Girls

Posted on: 06/22/11 3:57 PM | by Jonathan McKee

I’m a father of two girls. I go shopping with them often. Let me say it simply: It’s becoming increasingly more difficult to find modest clothes and bathing suits for my daughters.

The fashion world is putting the pressure on, nudging young girls to get too sexy too soon. But most kids are on board. They’re simply following the fashion of their role models.

The question many parents and youth workers have is: where do we draw the line? We could be like the one mom we all know at church that always dresses her daughter in Amish-like apparel. I know her daughter well (I’ve met hundreds of them). When she turns 18 she’s going to rebel completely. She’s already started. Or I guess we can do the opposite and be like the overly-permissive parents of many of the girls we see on public high school campuses– girls who hardly wear anything at all.

Parents have a choice to make. Are they supposed to sway to either of these extremes? Is there a modest balance?

Youth workers have an equally difficult choice to make. In the U.S., it’s more difficult the next couple of months. The weather is hot, and that means bikinis, shirts with spaghetti straps, and other revealing attire. (As I sit here, my girls are at church camp- a camp that doesn’t allow two piece bathing suits. Some of the girls from our church literally didn’t have one-piece bathing suits. This can be a tough rule to enforce)

A FEW THOUGHTS:  (first I’ll link a couple great articles on the subject, then we’ll talk about what parents can do, then I’ll touch on how youth workers can set guidelines)

David wrote a really powerful article on this subject this week, Short Skirts, Short Shorts and Short Shirts. Here’s just a snippet:

According to their article published in the research journal Sex Roles, of the 5,666 pieces of clothing studied, 31% of them had “sexualized characteristics.” The sexualization of the clothing was usually in the form of “frequently emphasizing the look of breasts” or bringing “attention to the buttocks.”

We know that watching sexy TV shows has a direct correlation to early sexual activity, as does listening to sex-laden songs. But is there also an effect on girls who wear clothing that’s sexual? The researchers claimed that “Dressing girls in this way could contribute to socializing them into the narrow role of the sexually objectified woman.” (CLICK HERE FOR THE ENTIRE ARTICLE)

Some great discussion has transpired in the comment section of this article. I encourage you to check it out and/or join in.

I think parents inside and outside of the church are growing frustrated with some of the companies that are “selling out” to this kind of “oversexualized” clothing for young girls. A while back I blogged about an ABC news report titled, Too Sexy Too Soon, with a great video on the subject. Some parents are getting fed up with this “corporate pedophilia.”

So how can parents set guidelines?
First… I don’t think we need to over-react to either extreme mentioned above. Personally, I don’t see the need to wrap up our girls head to toe. I’ve had a conversation with my girls about the way they dress because of the simple truth that it affects the guys around them. I’ve talked about how “visual” guys are and how much bikinis and revealing tops can affect them. These have been good conversations.

Does that mean that we never have disagreements about apparel in my house? Ha! We have to remind my girls quite often. (I actually talk about this and some guidelines we use in greater detail in my book, Candid Confessions of an Imperfect Parent)

But Lori and I don’t just give up. We’ve set realistic guidelines and we’ve explained why they exist. My girls (13 and 15) are pretty cool with that.

What about youth workers?
How is a youth worker to respond when it’s summer camp and a girl shows up in a revealing two piece? (not that all one-peices AREN’T revealing!)

I actually addressed this on our ASK THE SOURCE page when a youth worker wrote and asked about a situation where they were trying to figure out a dress code for church activities, and how to approach kids that didn’t follow the code.

Here’s a snippet of my response:

I also think you can handle a lot of this one-on-one. If you see someone wearing something risqué, you can have a female staff talk with her. I would use discretion and be sensitive to “unchurched girls.” You don’t want to scare a kid away from the church over a bathing suit. And let me assure you- the world has no problem with small swim suits.

I spoke for a church last year at a one week water-ski camp and they had a similar rule about bathing suits. Sure enough, a few girls wore risqué suits. I saw two female staff approach girls about this. It was interesting to see the difference in the two approaches. When someone first voiced the concern, the two staff girls spoke up. The first announced, “I have no problem telling her to change. Where is she? Watch this!” I think this staff girl was a little more excited about the chance to enforce her power than she was caring about the individual. The girl’s reaction was not good. Not surprising.

However, the second staff lady handled her situation quite well. She was one of the mothers on the trip and when the situation arose, she simply said, “I’ll talk with her.” You should have seen her gentle approach. She just walked up to her, put her arm around her and said something to her about “a pretty girl like you doesn’t need any more help getting guys to look at you.” Then she joked with her. “Why don’t you wear this t-shirt this week over that suit and have mercy on some of our guys.”

I remember that incident well. It’s amazing how most situations can be defused when you and your team of leaders pour on “love.”

So what do you think? How are youth workers and parents to set these guidelines? Where do you draw the line?

Talking with Our Kids About Demi

Posted on: 11/2/10 2:56 PM | by Jonathan McKee

So sad… the word is already out that “Sonny with a Chance” star Demi Lovato just checked into rehab for emotional issues, possibly for self mutilation and an eating disorder.

Demi is a huge name with kids, tweens, and even teens. Both of my own girls (13 and 15) have talked about her and seen her show countless times. This news will be a huge blow to kids across the world– yet another Disney Star/role model in rehab.

New York Daily News reports:

Teen Disney star Demi Lovato stunned fans when it was announced that the star had dropped out of her Jonas Brothers tour gig to seek help treatment for “emotional and physical issues,” according to her representatives.

The “Sonny With a Chance” and the “Camp Rock” star has struggled with eating disorders and cutting herself in the past, according to the Associated Press, although it’s unclear if those are the reasons why she left the tour.

Click here for the entire article.

The timing of this is interesting– young people are really struggling with self esteem right now. David’s Youth Culture Window article released just two days ago, The End of Their Rope, an article about bullying-related suicides, was a heart wrenching read. So many young people are looking for belonging and acting out in harmful ways. David offers some great advice about dialoguing with kids regarding bullying, teasing and suicidal thoughts.

As parents or youth workers, we might want to use this news about Demi to talk about self esteem with our young people.

Some resources to talk about this:

We’re in the process of writing up a MUSIC DISCUSSION using Crowder’s song “Everything Glorious” (I talked a little bit about how those lyrics can launch a powerful discussion about self esteem here). We have talked about the subject before– “How do we respond when bad things happen?”  On our MUSIC DISCUSSION page we used The Fray song “You Found Me” to talk about how we can find God in the midst of tragedies. On the same MUSIC DISCUSSION page we also used a song from the artist Ferras, “Hollywood’s Not America,” to talk about the search for fulfillment. Years ago we used a clip from the film “Mean Girls” to talk about self esteem as well, using I Peter chapter 3. January 2009 we talked about girls drinking their problems away. We even discussed that using Pink’s song “So What” here. In that song, Pink reacted in anger and self destruction.

Keep Demi and her family in prayer through this tough time.

(ht to Trazy for sending me the article)