Opinion: Don't Pressure Us to Fit Into Our Teen Jeans, Brooke
Apparently, not even 30 years, two kids and good sense comes between Brooke Shields and her Calvins.
This week, in an appearance on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," the 45-year-old model, mom and actress revealed that she still fits into the famous Calvin Klein jeans she wore 30 years ago in her controversial jeans ad for the designer's denim.
"They didn't look pretty," she offered, "but they fit."
In case you've blocked out the '80s -- the decade of "Flashdance" leg warmers and "Working Girl" hair -- let me refresh your memory.
The innuendo-packed 1980 Calvin Klein ad features 15-year-old Shields sitting provocatively with her legs spread open, whistling "My Darling Clementine" (what's that about?) and suggestively offering, "You want to know what comes between me and my Calvins? Nothing."
Thirty years ago, I was 18 and had no clue why everyone thought the ad was such a big deal. But when I watch the commercial today as a mother with two kids of my own, I definitely get it. And, by "it," I mean that sick feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you watch an innocent teenage girl being sexualized for commercial gains.
I'm happy to say that I don't think this type of commercial could be made in the United States today. At least, not if celebrities such as Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher, who just this week launched a campaign to fight child sex trafficking, have their way.
But, soft-core child porn aside, Shields' appearance on "Ellen" really struck another chord with me. After admitting that she squeezed into her Calvins, the actress continued: "I got those suckers zipped up ... I looked like a sausage in them, but I was going to get them zipped up if it was the last thing I did, so I could say that I fit into them."
Wow, Pretty Baby, great message for all the mature women out there.
Shields apparently recognizes that focusing on looks and beauty can be destructive to a young girl's self-esteem. During the interview, she tells DeGeneres that she would never look at herself in the mirror during her early modeling years and that she never actually thought she looked good.
And, when the TV host comments that people tell little girls they're pretty all the time, Shields remarks: "They start to put value in that ... people say it to my girls all the time ... I always say to them, 'Pretty is only as good as you are smart and strong and confident.' "
That's a great message -- for girls of all ages. Because, in an age when experts are now seeing a serious surge in eating disorder diagnoses in women 30 and older, it's not OK to convey to our generation that we should desperately be trying to regain that "teen nymph" look.
To be fair, I don't think Shields had any intention of slighting or offending -- after all, she has been a strong, outspoken role model for moms. Her remarks are likely the unfortunate remains of her own struggles with self-image.
We are a generation of women who grew up with the message that we had to be thin and beautiful to matter in this world, and secretly swore we would do better with our daughters. Because, no matter how many times you tell your daughters that they're powerful and smart, they'll only believe it if they see it modeled by you.
And, frankly, I may not be able to fit into the jeans I wore when I was 15, but I'll gladly trade those jeans for being comfortable with who I am as a woman, and demonstrating to my daughter that true beauty is way more than just a number on a label or a scale.
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