Dr. Jennifer W. Shewmaker

Parent, Teacher, Author

I am My Daughters’ Mother

This week I am in a workshop learning how to use digital storytelling. Over the course of the training session, each participant was asked to write a brief story about a time when their life was going in one direction, and then suddenly it turned to go another direction.

As I pondered this prompt, I could only think of one thing: The day that I became a mother for the first time. Because, you see, my oldest daughter turned 12 years old this week. There’s something important about the age of 12, it’s a year of growing up, of coming into your own in a new way, of beginning to grasp some of that independence that you will achieve later in life.

I clearly remember the first moment that I held my daughter in my arms and understood that I was responsible for this little person. In those early years, I would do whatever I could to protect her, to teach her, to help her learn how to do new things like walking and talking. As each year progresses, the things I need to teach her to do get progressively more difficult. We’ve gone from riding a bike to negotiating friendship troubles, from not watching too much television to learning to critique the messages that television shows are sending to her.

As I reflect on becoming a mother to a daughter, and now three daughters, I am overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by a passion to make this world a better place for my daughters and other girls, to fight for fair and positive representations of females in the media, to promote ways of seeing women and girls that is not limited to their sex appeal or physical appearance. As a mother, I have dreams not just for who she will become, but of what this world will be for her. As a professional who’s worked with girls and young women for many years, I have a vision for all of those girls that is much bigger than how they look or who thinks they’re sexy. My vision is about learning to embrace your own unique strengths, of seeing yourself as a person who can make a difference in this world.

I stand against sexualized and objectified media images and narratives because I am my daughters’ mother. I promote positive media, products, and marketing and work to provide families, teachers, children and adolescents with strategies to respond effectively to these kinds of messages because I believe that this world can be different, that we can make it different. I am my daughters’ mother, and I believe that together we can change the world.

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