Friday, July 23, 2010

Billboards, Boobs, and our Babies

It is a stretch of highway less than 30 miles long. We ride it a few times a week, twice a day, going back and forth from where we live and where I work and where my parents and my husband's parents live. We drive a mini-van, with big windows so wide you can see grass and clear blue skies, all in a single glance. Sounds picturesque and beautifully scenic right? It totally would be, if it weren't for the "giant boobs".

Yeah, I said it. "Boobs".

On Interstate 80/94 in Northwest Indiana, both Westbound and Eastbound, there is a plethora of billboards to entertain and inform (Frankly, I would prefer if these billboards stuck to the latter). You can see ads for restaurants, hospitals, fireworks stores, car dealerships, and even for the Curious Kid's Museum in St. Joseph, Michigan. But wait! You can also see a large handful of billboards promoting a variety of strip clubs that litter the Northwest Indiana region.

Now, I am not one to judge. I won't judge if a woman chooses that particular line of work, whether she needs to or wants to. I won't even judge the owners who feel it is necessary to "offer" such places of entertainment. But I do draw the line, and these billboards have grossly crossed it with their scantily clad "ladies" baring FAR too much for all the world to see, particularly children.

What is this teaching today's kids? I have a 3 year old son, and how do I know when he starts to notice these things? He has yet to mention them, but I am sure the day will come (much sooner than I will be comfortable with) when he does "get it". And what do I tell him? How can I teach him about respecting women and respecting himself? How do I tell him it's okay for these sorts of displays because it is "free speech", even though Mommy disagrees with them?

And what about my 1 year old daughter, who will grow up in this region as well, seeing these same billboards day in and day out. How do I teach her to respect herself and honor her dignity? How do I tell her this line if work is not acceptable for a young lady, but our towns and cities and states and COUNTRY accept it as second nature, all so someone can make a buck? I have a feeling I have a complicated road ahead me raising a teenage daughter, even without this added strife as a result of this filth. Thanks for adding even more onto my already ever growing pile.

But as I think more and more on this subject, how can I differentiate between a billboard ad for a trashy strip club and that of the threesome Calvin Klein jean ad last year (where a topless young girl is laying on top of one topless man, yet kissing another topless man. Oh, did I mention there is yet another topless man on the floor with his pants unbuttoned?). But, they are all wearing Calvin Klein jeans, and for some reason, THAT makes it all okay, right? Wrong. Sticking on a high price tag, calling it art, and slapping it up in a major fashion capitol of the world still won't convince this parent that that sort of trash is acceptable. It just makes my job as a reasonable parent, all that much harder. I suppose I have to be glad I don't live in New York, right? I am curious though, if this topic has ever concerned parents in cities like New York or Los Angeles? Or have the Moms there been desensitized since it is more "every-day" and "normal" there?

I do wonder about how to approach such topics with my kids as they grow and learn more about the real world. How to say this is right, but this is wrong. And how will I challenge these same children as they become teenagers, and are certain they know far better than I do about such controversial topics? Worry about them now, or worry about them later, I will always worry. And when the day finally arrives, I know I won't be prepared to tackle it at all. But are we ever as a parent ready to deal with such subjects? How many times are we caught off guard with inquiries like "Where do babies come from?" and "Why don't girls have a penis?" and follow up with silly little stories about storks and God and "because-I-said-so's"?

As a parent, all I can do is try my best to guide them in the right direction, answer their questions to the best of my ability, and hold them close, but give them wings to fly and discover the world on their own in hopes that everything I have done as a parent will assist in influencing them to make the right decisions. I can also hope they remove these trashy ads from the young, impressionable eyes of young children. But in today's society, I think that is a wish that will come unanswered.

Originally posted to Chicago Moms Blog on April 13, 2010.

You can often find Jen stressing about the daily in's-and'-out's of mommying over on Twitter and at her personal blog, Mommy Instincts.


Courtney said...

Oh my goodness!!! I completely understand where you are coming from! My husband and I have often wondered how we are going to explain these ridiculous billboards to our daughter one day!

Old School/New School Mom said...

Wow! That is super trashy. And I live in NYC. I would not like to continually drive by giant boobs!