Looking out: Little-big-girls

November 23, 1994

Looking out: Little-big-girls

By Brandon Astor Jones

"Nothing is so soothing to our self-esteem as to find our [presumed] bad traits in our forebears. It seems to absolve us." — Van Wyck Brooks

Because this column is published via computer bulletin boards around the world, my correspondence is diverse. Many of the people with whom I communicate are pre- and teenage girls of almost every racial, cultural and social background. I try to be what many of them do not have: an experienced adult male who cares about them without taking advantage of their youth/naivete.

A good deal of what I have learned from these young people is extremely disturbing. I feel that a lot of people who care about young people really need to hear about a conversation that took place between two of the girls recently.

Part of what is wrong with society is what too many adults, by example, teach the children in it. In some cases boys are taught early on to appreciate girls as only "sex objects". Young girls are taught even earlier that in the eyes of many they are worthless if they do not have the socially prescribed body attributes little boys are taught to value.

The consequence of this kind of conditioned self-imagery is that little girls with flat chests very often have low self-esteem. Conversely, girls with large breasts may have inflated self-images that can be extremely self-destructive. Imagine two 12-year-olds having this discussion:

First girl: If I was as big and fine as you are, with big breasts and those great legs, the boys would be all over me!

Second girl: Now girl, you don't understand. Yeah, they want me now 'cause I got a nice body, but in five years they'll be runnin' from me, and wouldn't be caught dead with me.

First girl: I still wish I had what you got and that I wasn't so skinny.

Second girl: You just think you do. See girl, 'cause if you really was as big as me you'd know that you gotta get a man before you get too much bigger. Like I said, in five years the same boys that think I'm fine now, will be callin' me "big foot" and you'll be fillin' out from head to toe, and then, you'll be their "flavour of the month".

A noteworthy number of little girls who are pregnant can be described as children inside pseudo-grown-up bodies. Unfortunately, there are a whole array of emotionally debilitating social factors that contribute to such pregnancies.

We have, as a desensitised society, failed these young people in ways too numerous to mention, and we all know it. A lot of our "little-big-girls" are in effect seeking in others the love they have never been taught to have for themselves (and getting pregnant in the process). What is worthy of note here is that some of them have set time limits in which to complete the self-effacing process.

The absurd notion that the second girl entertains, about her perceived worthlessness and undesirability five years hence, should bring tears to all eyes. There is more to our little-big-girls than their physical characteristics; and we better start teaching instead of preaching.[The writer is a prisoner on death row in the United States. He is happy to receive letters commenting on his columns. He can be written to at: Brandon Astor Jones, EF-122216, G2-51, GD&CC, PO Box 3877, Jackson, GA 30233, USA.]

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