Friday, August 21, 2009

Hanna Montana/Miley Cyrus Will Not Be in This Home


It is hard to turn on the TV or go to the store and not see some type of Hanna Montana paraphernalia. Other than the Disney Channel show, there are posters, shoes, clothes, dolls, purses, lunch boxes, you name it. Now, I don't have a problem with Hanna. I actually think she has a great voice, but when my daughter gets older and starts to take interest in those sorts of things, it won't be Hanna Montana.

It's not because of that over-18 boyfriend she's got (or had, I don't really follow much what she's up to) or those in-her-undies photos that surfaced on the web. It's because she's white. Before you get upset and write me off as a racist, hear me out. There's nothing wrong with white people or being white, but my daughter is brown; and as a good mother, it's my duty to surround her with self-affirming images that would never make her question her worth and beauty.

It would be a different issue if it was just Hanna Montana, but its not. It's practically every girl on Disney channel (and Nickelodeon, and Noggin). It's majority of the dolls at the store. It's most of the faces in the magazines. It's many of the illustrations in library books. I can't allow this society to saddle my daughter with all these images that look nothing like her and think it won't have an affect. I've seen too many beautiful little brown girls wish away their brownness (blackness). That's more brown confidence shot to the ether.

I remember my mother searching through the library books to make sure they had enough brown faces in them. I remember her buying me brown dolls and refusing to let me "perm" my hair (no matter how much I begged). I didn't realize it at the time, but she was arming me with tools I needed to form a healthy, solid sense of self worth and acceptance.

This wouldn't be an issue if we lived in a world that loved everyone equally, but we don't. Our world is one that has infected the black community-and other communities as well-with the diseased notions of "good-hair" and the "paper bag test." Our world is one that makes otherwise beautiful people bleach their skin in the hopes if making it lighter. Our world is one that has black women buying up every hair product they can that promises to make their tresses straighter and silkier. It's a tough world. I'm bringing my armor.

Be clear: This doesn't mean that I'm going to shield her from all things white. That would be dangerous and impossible. I want her to recognize the beauty of diversity and all the different colors of people there are. I just don't want her to ever forget how beautiful she is.

Zara's Mommy,
Nadirah Angail


  1. I'm 20 year old childless white student, so I couldn't really be further removed from this post, however what you wrote about really affected me.

    You're absolutely correct in what you're writing, and I fully support what you are doing. But the media's false representation of beauty affects everyone. It's not just brown/black girls who are told that in order to be beautiful they have to straighten their hair, wear weaves or bleach their skin with dangerous products. Pale white girls are also shown that in order to be beautiful they have to spray themselves all over with expensive fake tan or lie in the sun (or worse on a sunbed) to brown themselves, risking skin cancer and other damage in the pursuit of beauty.

    When I was little my father, who grew up in apertheid South Africa, used to sing me a song which went like this:

    'Please won't you tell me why/ I want to know the facts/Why all the black people want to be white/And the white people want to be black'.

    The world is truly mad. If only society could celebrate and promote the fact that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, skin tones and ages, we could raise girls to become happy and confident women.

  2. I'm glad to know that someone outside of this sphere can relate. That really gives me hope. If more people were like you, maybe things would change. But like you said, its not just the black community. Its the world. Everyone is trying to achieve a false image of beauty that is really only contains a fractoin of their natural beauty. Thanks for reading

  3. Nadirah
    i agree, and support ur views on raising a child to realize ethnically who they are. The television is today's great tool on raising our children on this brain washed view of how we are suppose to grow up...their view and take on the world. When I am not reading to my son, teaching the arabic that i know, teaching him good manners...NOGGIN has broadened my son's horizon on variety. If and when I turn on the television this is the only channel I will allow my son to watch because ot only do they have these cartoons you mention, but they also have dora which is hispanic in nature, and kilan which is chinese, and Bill Cosby has his show Little Bill which is a brown little boy which Isa loves...Other cartoon which all provide learning skills..(reinforcing things I am trying to instill in him from young*sharing, social skills, listening, music awareness, problem solving ect.) They have matching, and puzzles for toddler age instead of those horrible commercials that usually is my channel changing cue.
    Yes we need to teach our children who they are and where they come from...showing them that they are beautiful just the way GOD has made them. Introducing them to books like BRIGHT EYES AND BROWN SKIN, but teaching them also there are many other colors from the book BROWN BEAR, we can teach them that we are a world of many things choices and varieties I want my son to be well rounded and not shielded, yet know who he is and see the beauty in himself.
    Please note just as you dont need to have Hannah Montana as your Zara's role model, I dont need to buy Justin Timberlake as Isa's! But he can see who these people are and see how they relate to him, InshAllah making him a better person for it. (Obviously in due time, when he is of the age of intellegence, able to think and reason for himself).

  4. Yes, it's all about balance, too far in either direction isn't healthy. I'm sure she'll know who hannah montana is. We just wont be buying all the shirts and books and such. I dont plan to keep her in a bubble or anything like that. Thanks for reading. Oh yea, I love Little Bill.


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