I am a firm believer in the First Amendment; Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press are near and dear to my heart. Today’s topic is not to create controversy, only an open letter to parents of young children.
If you are unfamiliar with “50 Shades of Grey” it is a trilogy of books, written by E. L. James. This set of books has been listed on the NY Times Best seller list for the past 27 weeks.
It is considered “Erotic Fiction” or “Mommy Porn” as mentioned by various news groups; because of its popularity with married women in their 30’s — according to Wikipedia. The sexual scenes within the series of books are very graphic, from what I have researched and been told by other women.
I am not here to raise the issue of why or why not to read this series of books, I choose not to. Not because of all the controversy surrounding the books, but just because it isn’t what I enjoy reading.
As an adult, it is your right to read whatever interests you, my concern is when “Erotic Fiction” infiltrates the world of children.
Last week I was perusing Etsy (website that sells homemade goods); I enjoy supporting small businesses and LOVE to see all the beautiful handcrafted items that are available. There are some very talented people selling their wares.
I came across a page that just made me sick; it is a site selling all “Shades of Grey” T-shirts and beer koozies, etc. The adult T-shirts use graphics that include handcuffs and sexual phrases from the book.
As an adult, it is your choice to wear whatever makes you feel good, even messages that are somewhat inappropriate (in my opinion) on T-shirts. On this site they were promoting heavily their new items — “50 Shades of Grey” infant and toddler shirts.
Now, in their defense, there was nothing pornographic on the kids T-shirts. I just don’t want a toddler wearing a T-shirt reading “I’m 50 Shades of Grey Baby” or an infant wearing a onsie that says “9 months ago my Mommy read 50 Shades of Grey.”
Not because the infant or toddler understands what the T-shirt says and represents, but older children that can read the T-shirts will ask their parents what the T-shirt means. To me, this is crossing the line when it comes to kids clothes. I for one do not want to explain to my 4- and 8-year-old boys what erotic fiction books are all about.
In an age when children suffer from low self-esteem, the clothing industry continues to make shorts shorter for girls, T-shirts for boys have more attitude, and people keep buying them. Isn’t a wonder why kids sometimes act out, if they don’t have a basis for what is appropriate or inappropriate even in their clothing choices?
I have a friend who will soon be starting her own home-based business selling girls clothing because she is so frustrated with trying to find clothing for her 9 and 11 year olds that isn’t styled as a “Hoochie Mama.”
As happy as I am for her entrepreneurial spirit, I also understand her frustration with clothing choices for her girls.
Children may not listen to everything we tell them, but they watch everything we do. They monitor how we talk to and about people, they see how we dress, they watch what we eat and drink.
Are we building a strong foundation for our children to learn and cope with everything life will throw their way as they grow? What kind of young adult and future parents do you want your child/ren to grow up and be? I will not be raising a “50 Shades of Grey” child, how about you?
• Leah Derewicz is a 15-year Ahwatukee Foothills resident. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.