Talented & smart … so why do we need the navel?

Sun, May 28, 2006

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No, I’m not referring to the scores of live pre-teen sensations like Hilary Duff or Hannah Montana. The navel-baring role model I’d like to see revamped is Kim Possible.

For the uninitiated, Kim is an animated high school cheerleader/straight-A student by day and fearless crimefighter by night and other teen-age off hours. (Plus her parents are extra-smart role models, too — Kim’s mom is a brain surgeon and her dad is a rocket scientist!)

The cartoon is harmless enough and, to my mind, not bad viewing for my six-year-old daughter, since the typical gender roles are reversed — the girl is extra-smart and brave with lots of original ideas on how to battle the bad guys without hurting anyone, plus the goofy sidekick is a boy. I’m down with all that. But explain to me why Disney had to make sure that a great role model needs a crimefighting ensemble, as well as a cheerleading uniform, that bares her midriff?

At first, I figured I could overlook this wardrobe issue (I guess it doesn’t rise to the level of a “malfunction“). When my daughter announced she wanted to be Kim Possible for Halloween, I figured, “Great — modeling a smart girl is a good thing, even if she does wear a cheerleader’s uniform sometimes.” However, my then-five-year-old announced that she didn’t want to wear her costume because the one she got covered her little round belly. This past year I was saved by “explaining” that this was Kim’s winter outfit and it would be too cold to wear the summer one.

Clearly, it’s OK by me if her cute little kindergarten tummy sees the light of day from time to time, but what bothers me is that programs that are clearly geared to her age group are promoting the idea that it’s socially acceptable to show off your tummy, and other parts, anytime. I’m not fooling myself — I know the day will come, sooner than I would like, when she’ll be prancing out the door in clothes not of my choosing, just like when I didn’t think my skirts were short enough and I would roll them up at the waistband as soon as I got into the girl’s room at high school.

Corporate responsibility is a hot topic these days (stay with me), so maybe we should ask that it be about more than accounting standards and stock options. I have to imagine that some of the 14 directors on Disney’s board are parents of girls. Maybe if they started looking at progamming decisions at least partly through their parental lens, rather than solely a money-making one, parents wouldn’t need to explain why midriff tops aren’t appropriate fashion staples for kindergartners. I have to believe that making a little wardrobe change for a cartoon character won’t cost the shareholders any money.

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One Response to “Talented & smart … so why do we need the navel?”

  1. Megan Says:

    Actually I wonder why did the midriff come into fashion everywhere you look?
    I think Shania Twain started it and like the blind society we have everyone has to do it without question.
    Actually I see a flaw in Kim Possibles Kindness she’s always rude to her nerd cousin Larry. She could be friends with him which could be an opportunity to show to the population we socially awkward types some of us with aspergers syndrome aren’t “bad”.
    Are just born that way and have our own culture of being.
    Yeah her spy outfit why the midriff?
    It seems like someone could look down into her underwear not too smart when battleing bad guys,in the animal world that’s a sign of submission. Why does strong have to be sexy?
    Mixed measage kind of silly.
    I think it puts a lease on the woman for not going to far being strong.
    But that’s just me.


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