As with my thoughts on fairies, I came to possess Thoughts on Justin Bieber in a very unexpected way.
I had heard of him a while ago, even in my isolated state at camp, where we have no TV, radio or newspapers. I had never heard his music, but had read enough about him to get the general idea of who he was, and I possessed exactly two thoughts in regards to Justin Bieber:
The first was that all the hatred expressed towards him on Facebook kind of seemed like a waste of energy, and the second was this curiosity about exactly how much hair product it would take to keep his little side-swept thing going on.
And that was all.
I have other things to think about.
But then I had an experience that changed all of that.
We were going on a little road trip during our vacation in Florida, and Anika was begging for some music to listen to. We had not packed any cds, so Ben started the impossible task of trying to find something appropriate to listen to on the radio. Skipped over anything country, quickly skipped over Katy Perry singing “Teenage Dream” (don’t need to give Anika any ideas about tight jeans), kept skipping, until suddenly, there was the Disney channel. I immediately had visions in my head of us bopping along down the road, all singing “Under the Sea” together or something classic like that, and was feeling pretty optimistic about our musical options, after all. But as soon as the commercial break was over, the first song that came on was Justin Bieber’s “U Smile.”
Now, for those of you who don’t know who Justin Bieber is, I will just briefly point out that he’s this little pop prince who’s music and other paraphanilia (including Justin Bieber nail polish) is aimed at female “tweenagers” – basically, little girls between the ages of 8-14.
Now, a song called “U Smile” would appear all innocent and cutesy because of that “U”, and smiling sounds really chipper. Since Ben and I had both never actually heard a Justin Bieber song, we left it on for a few minutes.
My two thoughts on Justin Bieber began to multiply rapidly at this point.
The first thing that popped into my head was that he sounds like a girl. I really would not have known that it was a guy singing. But that’s fine. Nothing wrong with that, really. Age will change that.
The second was that he actually has some talent – not my style in any way, but he can sing. Talent is not really a prerequisite anymore, so you never know.
But suddenly, in complete unison, Ben and I turned to each other and both exclaimed, “Did he just sing, ‘Your lips are my weakness??'”
Yes. Yes, he did. To eight-year-old little girls.
In fact, I know that there are girls younger than that who are being told that their lips are Justin Bieber’s weakness. Just yesterday, I was Christmas shopping in a toy store, and there was a little girl in there who was definitely younger than Anika, wearing a bright blue T-shirt with a huge picture of an engagement ring on it, and it said, “The Future Mrs. Bieber”.
Who makes shirts like that in children’s sizes? Who buys shirts like that? Who lets their kid wear a shirt like that in public?
The thing that I keep thinking about is the fact that my sweet, innocent seven-year-old has an intense imagination. She believes that fairies are real. She believes that Troy and Gabriella will be together forever (and she doesn’t know that they aren’t real people, or that they have other names). She intensely believes that she will marry her little friend who has been her “boyfriend” since she was three.
I cannot imagine what would happen if that intensity would be channeled in the direction of Justin Bieber.
Now, all of this does not inspire me to write all kinds of hateful things about Justin Bieber all over Facebook. Rather, it makes me really sad.
I feel sad for all those little girls who’s parents are exposing them to junk that could give them a really early start to a messed up view of life and love and sexuality.
I feel sad (and scared!) about raising my own little girls in a world that will not allow them to stay innocent nearly as long as they should be allowed to be.
And I actually feel really sad for Justin Bieber. He has parents and other adults in his life who are making choices for him, or are allowing him to make choices that he’s just not mature enough to make. He’s a kid. Who can really get upset at him for singing about a weakness for lips? Ben says, “He’s just singing about what every other boy his age is thinking about. They’re just not saying it out loud.”
Someone in Justin Bieber’s life is not thinking about what kind of a man he’ll be when he’s 50.
So all of this has gotten me thinking about innocence. It makes me think about “the good old days”. It makes me think about the fact that “protecting” kids these days is now called “sheltering” them, and it’s seen as a negative thing. I have absolutely no idea where the balance is between innocence and naivety. I have no idea how we’re going to make our way through this mess as we try to parent our little girls.
I’m thinking that we’ll pray like crazy. We’ll try to err on the side of caution, because once that innocence is lost, it’s not coming back.
And I think that we’ll try to teach our girls that when someone makes really bad choices, we’ll want our girls to have the strength to stand up against the pressure to do the same, while not trying to force our own standards on other people. And we’ll teach them to always respond lovingly, because I still feel that getting all hateful about it really is a waste of energy.