I was out running errands with my youngest child, a 4-year-old girl, after
dropping off her two older brothers at their sweet Jewish Day school. The school is right in the middle of Hollywood. The education they receive in those walls is warm and
The education outside of the walls is, well, an eye-opener—particularly on the streets. When oldest
was 4, he noticed that one man smoked his cigarette out of something
different than another man smoked his. Just a few days ago, I pulled up to
Starbucks where yet another way to smoke was being demonstrated.
All this is a great excuse to talk about smoking, drugs, alcohol and homelessness, but one of
the topics I'm fumbling for words for has to do with my daughter and the
sexy photos of women.
Behold this billboard.
When we drove by this billboard, I held my breath and hoped she wouldn't see it. Not so lucky.
I generally try to talk about sexual images we see of women,
since they are all over the place. (I mean, have you been grocery shopping lately?) I try to tell her that
people admire the strength in these women, and I make a muscle man pose.
at my older 9-year-old son and sometimes just say "Boobs," because what else
can you say when boobs are spilling out
of a bra. I have explained they are selling bras. I mostly try to explain it's
all about advertising.
But this particular billboard was very in-your-face and hard for me to explain. I also had no idea myself what the hell it was for.
My 4-year-old filled in the gap for me. "Well, that is inappropriate for me."
"Yes, it is." Thankfully, she got it.
"She's got a strong butt," I said pathetically.
"Her pagina is behind that butt," said my daughter.
"Yes, it is." The light turned and we went.
My 4-year-old's conclusions summed it up well for me also. Because you know what? It's inappropriate for me, too.
"Don't worry they are going to take that down tomorrow,"
said my daughter.
Apparently, she's in charge with these people.
"They are not sticking their penises out," she went on.
"No, no they're not. That would be inappropriate, too." I
began to hate myself for not knowing what to say about this one.
People might argue that I live in Los Angeles and my kids go
to school in Hollywood, I should expect this. This is where I'm raising kids. But I would argue that most parents I know are lovely here and
trying their best like most parents everywhere. Why should we have to look at this billboard?
My 4-year-old's conclusions summed it up well for me also. Because you know what? It's
inappropriate for me, too.
Fifteen years ago, I was a young 22-year-old from Iowa who
preferred tennis shoes and flip flops to heels when going out for the night. I remember driving down Sunset Blvd. and staring up at the
billboards: huge images of toned, scantily clad people. I remember being
surprised that the images made me feel insecure.
I don't want that for my daughter.
And, no, I'm not moving.
Look, even if we lived in Iowa, we'd still have to pass by
similar images at the grocery store checkout counter. The difference is that, here in L.A., the
images are the size of dinosaurs and against a backdrop of blue sky and swaying