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Opinion May 2015

The Old Gal

Fifty+ Shades of Meh …

By Anne Ashley

Not only are the youths lost in this murky world of instant fame, low expectations and emotional laziness, but so are their parents! Unfortunately, today, most modern adults are too busy searching for the elixir of youth and too absorbed in their own fading appearances to focus on the obligation of raising their offspring responsibly.

As I sat in my darkened office, typing away, I could hear an interview on television in the background where a woman decried the media and all its evils for her daughter’s low self-esteem. She complained bitterly that her daughter couldn’t compete with the unattainable ambition set by models and celebrities with their ultra-slim figures, and constant and expensive image transformations. This voice in the distance also protested that her daughter was unable to set levelheaded goals for her future, due to the lure of empty fame and fortune for no more than singing on a televised contest.

A couple of sentences further into the conversation and I just had to go see for myself what kind of example this woman was setting for her struggling progeny. Needless to say, I already had an image in mind … and I was right.

Now, don’t get me wrong, anyone that’s read two of my articles in a row, knows I am no princess and that I love a good slouchy, makeup free day as much as the next slouch. However, if I knew I was to be broadcast to all and sundry, bellyaching about the influences of the media on my daughter’s lack of self-worth and future prospects, I’d have, at the very least, run a comb through my hair and perhaps chosen a blouse not emblazoned with what looked like bad graffiti and obviously purchased at Forever 21!

Clearly, self-esteem is an altogether different beast these days. In my youth, even if young adults faltered when it came to determining our potentials, our parents (not to mention, our grandparents) could be relied on to remind us of our obligations and how best to strive for success – both for ourselves and for the family name. By and large, our elders used to be the ones setting a good example on how to take responsibility for our failures and take pride in our accomplishments.

What’s so contradictory about it all today is that not only are the youths lost in this murky world of instant fame, low expectations and emotional laziness, but so are their parents! Unfortunately, today, most modern adults are too busy searching for the elixir of youth and too absorbed in their own fading appearances to focus on the obligation of raising their offspring responsibly.

If you want your child to strive for a fruitful and productive adulthood, perhaps you shouldn’t sport matching tattoos and share their wardrobes. Maybe if this mother had set a better example of how to grow up with poise and self-respect, her daughter wouldn’t be so reliant on media images to fill in the blank spaces!

All this hyperbole surrounding the release of the movie 50 Shades of Gray – where sex and submissiveness is evidently the entire plot, is the divide between the young and me. I mean, I read my share of dime novels in my day but you’d have thought E L James invented sex –  such is the senseless enthusiasm surrounding this farcical scenario.

Granted books should give you an escape; transform your vim and vigor – if they’re good. Movies should inspire you with rich plots and exciting conclusions – if they’re good. However, my long-suffering husband would be less than pleased if every time I saw a movie or read a spicy novel, he was expected to change into the leading character (although, to be fair, he’s safe in his domestic contentment as the last racy movie I saw was about the British monarchy and I can’t even recall the last book I read)!

As for me, I don’t want to think what my response would be if my better half asked me to participate in a little playful submissiveness. That would produce a reaction closer to The Exorcist plot line!

This must be the continental divide – youthful imagination versus mature acceptance. It’s ok to be entertained by the portrayal of someone else frolicking and cavorting with absolute abandon. But one should draw the line at allowing such folly to set fashion, fantasies and bedroom delusions.

 

You can contact Anne at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , or Twitter @anneashley57.   

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