I just finished reading a book called A Return to Modesty: Discovering the Lost Virtue
by Wendy Shalit. Although the book was written in 1999, its wisdom is timeless. Indeed, it is quite remarkable to watch Shalit skillfully illustrate the troubling cultural messages being communicated to girls and young women about their bodies, sexuality and femininity. This book is still a must-read.
In any case, the book has caused me to think quite a bit about the role that fathers should play in protecting the innocence of their daughters and in helping them develop a healthy, resilient and positive self-image--a tall order indeed in a culture that increasingly seeks to sexualize our little girls. (We now have retailers that are making thong underwear for 11 year-olds and skinny jeans for toddlers.) My view has always been that a fathers role is to help his princess find her prince (i.e. her self worth) without kissing all the frogs. For sure, today the frogs are more plentiful and aggressive in their call
And the stakes are higher than ever and the consequences of poor decisions can be long lasting and quite dire.
A case in point is the recent situation that actor Lawrence Fishburne (Mystic River, The Matrix) faced with his 19 year-old daughter, Montana. She agreed to star in a pornographic video to help her become famous. She stated, "I view making this movie as an important first step in my career. I've watched how successful Kim Kardashian became and I think a lot of it was due to the release of her sex tape. I'm hoping the same magic will work for me.
Clearly, Fishburne was not happy with this situation but Montana wouldnt listen to him. In fact, to block the release of the video, Fishburnes friends even offered the film producer what he apparently considered too modest a sum -- $1M for all of the copies. The producer distributed the film and it reportedly sold so well that he offered Montana a multi-picture deal.
Granted, Fishburnes situation is somewhat unique but you have to wonder why a daughter whose dad is an accomplished actor would choose this route to fame. But, the script of Montanas life is a familiar screenplay with a predictable narrative. Its worth noting that Fishburne and his daughters mother divorced when Montana was very young. You have to wonder if he was "on location" when Montana was a little girl making the critical decision whether to embrace or reject the immodest Kardashian type messages and values celebrated daily in our culture. All dads should be mindful that if you exit stage right from your daughters life, you are bound to miss important cues.
Ironically, frogs can be quite alluring and very deceptive. But, outside of fairy tales, there is no magic in them. And, thats why our daughters need involved fathers who have built strong enough relationships with them so that they will listen when he says be careful what you wish and what you kiss.