Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus Will Not Be in This Home

Hannahmiley 300 Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus Will Not Be in This Home society race talk progressive parenting parenting  self image brown girls black / african american It is hard to turn on the TV or go to the store and not see some type of Hannah 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 Hannah. 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 Hannah 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, 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 Hannah 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. 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, better. 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.

This post was originally published on NadirahAngail.com

 

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Nadirah Angail

Nadirah is a Kansas City, Missouri-based blogger, author and editor who frequently gives written voice to women's issues, including relationships, self esteem, body image, health, mothering and a whole host of others. She is the author of two books and loves to connect with readers and other writers.
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Comments

  1. says

    Agree!!!  I am a white mama who has a brown daughter and all her dolls are brown & tan.  I just allowed a pair of tinkle bell pajamas and princess underwear (first things ever) and she's almost 3.  I feel the same way and agree with you 100%.  I make it a point to tell her how beautiful women of every color are when we are looking at pictures, tv, etc.  Because TV & the Media will always portray white women in the limelight and I want her to know every shade of color that people come in is absolutely beautiful.

  2. says

    Nadirah, this is such an important topic…not just for moms of color, but also for white moms.  So many times we don't think about the images that we put in front of our children.  I hear women commenting that they want their children to be open to diversity and multiculturalism, but it's kind of hard to get there when we're flooding our children with a disproportionately large number of white images.  In order for our children to be comfortable with diversity, it needs to be a regular part of their day to day life…this is not something that can be accomplished with a book here and there…which is a common misconception.  On the point that you make about color and brown girls' confidence, you are so on point in this.  Especially when it comes to characters like Miley Cyrus, who practically flood the air waves, but beyond that, the example of her putting on blonde hair and becoming a "super star" or more desired personality, is one that parents should gawk at and examine the psychology of.  What are we telling our daughters about their self-image…especially our brown girls.  Now, some might think that this is much ado about nothing, but in reality, it's these seemingly small gestures that can make our girls feel inferior or less deserving.  I really appreciate that you pointed this out to parents who might otherwise have thought about it and honestly, you gave me good reason to pause and think more on this too.

  3. says

    This post got me thinking. I mean I've done A LOT of thinking… We have every color of doll in my house, and always have–because our family is both brown and white. My girls watch Hannah Montana sometimes, but they have also watched every season of That's So Raven. I want them to see strong women in both colors–because they are both colors. We talk about their heritage on both sides–their brownness (the fact that their Nana is from the South and what that means) and their whiteness (the fact that their Oma is from Germany and what that means.) We provide them with images of both sides and try to enstill a strong sense of history, heritage, and family in our children. 

    But there is another whole side to the Hannah Montana issue. My girls don't really watch Hannah anymore, but two years ago they did–because so many girls at school were into her (and it wasn't just the white girls!) When it came time to plan their joint birthday party (their b'days are just 1 week apart) they wanted a Hannah Montana-themed dance party where they could learn the "Hoedown Throwdown" dance with their friends ("because, Mommy, Hannah Montana raps in that song!")  Their birthdays are right before and after New Year's when times are tough for a lot people, and usually we don't have good turnout at their parties, but this time EVERY girl came. Their school is more than half non-white, so every shade of brown was represented at that party and those girls all had a blast! I learned that there is something that Hannah Montana provides for the girls at my daughters' school–commonality. They all come from different heritages, backgrounds, and religions; but despite those differences, they all like Hannah Montana. 

    I definitely don't want my girls to have a negative self-image. Don't want them to think that they are "less-than" anyone who has white skin. But I also don't want them to be left out of the conversations their peers are having. Especially when those conversations help them to learn that despite our differences in religion, skin color, and heritage we can have things in common (even if it's something as simple as liking a famous "secret pop star.")

    • says

      I definitely feel where your coming from Jen!  I might think differently when she is older and as I said below we just bought tinker bell jammies & princess panties.  She picked them out and wanted them and I let her have them.  I know that she will have to make her own choices as she grows and I am fine with that because like you said you don't want that to be excluded.

  4. says

    Thanks for the comments, all. 

    Jen, I see what you're saying. I def want my daughter to be surrounded by everything, black, white and all, but we live in a largely white world, so that part is done for me. I wont have to work to expose her to white anything. It's there in great abundance. And I don't have a problem with that. I just don't want her getting the wrong idea about her color what that means.  When she goes out into the world, pretty much everything is white, but when she comes home, I want her to see something more familiar. And I know Hannah has a great appeal, and so do all those other Disney shows whose names I can't think of now, but even outside of the fact that they're almost exclusively white, they're also too adult in my opinion. They talk about a bunch of stuff I don't want my kids seeing/hearing. (ex. "You kissed my boyfriend" type stuff.) Really,TV in general is a mess, but that's a whole different discussion:)Chantilly, there are tons of things that bother me that others would say are no big deal. Cant help but to be superaware. Despite what people think, it all matters. And you're right, this is relevant to all moms.Angelique, she'll appreciate that without even knowing it. I think when your child is in any type of minority group, you have to go above and beyond to give them the experience of normalcy, to let them know that how they are is absolutely okay and just as good as any other way they could have been. 

  5. Laura S. says

    Nadirah – thank you for your post.  I feel the same way as you but I feel like I am fighting a losing battle sometimes with my husband's side of the family, who are Mexican, and buy her stuff with Disney princesses with lily white skin tones.  Aargh!  So, I counter that with buying her dolls with brown skin tones so she can have dolls that look like her – medium olive skin tone, as well as blankets, towels, etc that have characters on them.  Sometimes they are the African American dolls, Latin, Asian – I don't care as long as they look more like her than Brittany Spears.  The books that she and my son read have a characters of different races and cultures as well as the tv programs, as best as I can do with what the media offers.  And I agree with you, I don't have to "work" at her being exposed to white or Anglo images in the media – she's only 4 but the girls at school have already educated her on Lady Gaga and Justin Beiber.  I, however, have been talking to her about Frida Kahlo.  Just saying.  

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