I’m so excited to share a “guest post” from my husband! He wrote this piece just because it was on his heart, and I begged him to share it with you all. I’m so thankful my three kiddos have him for a daddy. 🙂
Dear Ms. Grande,
I am a father to two beautiful 6-year-old girls who are growing up faster than I can believe. They love music. Our whole family loves music. As opposed to listening exclusively to “kids” music, for which I have little patience, I enjoy finding “clean” popular music to share with my girls. Of course, they just eat it up — devour it. They LOVE it. They sing, they make up dances, they watch the music videos and sing and dance along with them. We have a blast! Some of our favorite artists of late are, as you might expect, Taylor Swift, One Direction, Sara Bareilles, and Ellie Goulding.
As I continue to look for new music and new role models for my young girls, I’ve come across you and your music. You are undoubtedly and unbelievably talented. I first came across your work as the featured performer in MIKA’s “Popular song”. We’re fans of “Wicked” in our house and I thought my girls would get a kick out of an upbeat song that pays tribute to one of their favorite songs from that musical, and I was right. They frequently ask to listen to “the other Popular song”. On the other hand, “Bang Bang” while of course hugely popular (and your performance was vocally wonderful) doesn’t get a lot of airtime around the girls for obvious reasons.
In particular though, I wanted to talk about your song “Break Free”. It is very exciting and catchy, and has a powerful, uplifting message for women, encouraging them to be stronger, to have the courage to act independently, to be confident in themselves and make their own decisions. The verses are a little sexually suggestive, so I’ve been hesitant to play it for my girls, but I certainly see the value. It got me thinking that your music might become a welcome addition to our regular playlists and you could be someone who I would be happy to have as a role model for my children.
However, in seeing some of your music videos, there is certainly a preponderance of sexuality exuding from these productions. While everyone has a right to express themselves and certainly “Bang Bang” is at its core a sexual song, I was disappointed that a song like “Break Free” which has such an independent, almost feminist message has a video that at times shows you writhing around scantily clad. I will say that there are several scenes showing you as a powerful, aggressive hero in the science fiction/fantasy world the video creates – so there is some positive message there, some great potential.
My wife and I are constantly protecting our girls from the greater availability of the more mature aspects of popular culture today. This seems to be an increasingly difficult task. There is profanity in comic book movies. There are more sexually charged images in print and certainly on the internet than ever before. There seems to be, in a world that is supposed to be moving towards greater equality among races and genders and ethnicities, more examples of subordination of one group compared to another.
I also know that not all children are as protected from the “ways of the world” as ours. Whether they have older siblings who expose them to these things earlier, parents who have to worry more about the essentials of putting food on the table or providing a physically safe environment than providing a psychologically uplifting environment, or worse, they’re corrupted by an unseemly adult in their life, many children do not have the privileges that mine are afforded. I don’t think that this is something that we should simply put up with though; I think instead that we should work towards a culture that supports rather than accosts the psyches of our young people.
I’m reminded of the movie “In A World”. If you haven’t seen this Lake Bell movie I would highly recommend it. The main character is a woman trying to make it in the “man’s world” of voice-over acting. Intermittently, she encounters women who are playing the “sexy baby” role in nearly every aspect of their daily lives and she is not only dumbfounded by them, and at times chastises them, but ultimately she wants to help them shed that persona so that they can realize their dreams of having assertive, impactful careers.
I know that you and your team are aggressively working on promoting and furthering your success and I know that the world we live in is getting less private and more corporate by the minute, but I hope that as your career continues you think about those young women and even children who look up to you. I know that “sex sells” and “no publicity is bad publicity”, but I hope that you have the courage to stand up for what you believe is right and not blindly follow the recommendations of promoters and producers who want to cash in no matter the means to that end. I hope that you can do what some of your recent predecessors like P!nk, Christina Aguilera, Beyonce and others like them, have done. When they succeeded to a point where they had greater influence on their image, they made sure to convey that they were not just a one-dimensional representation of superficiality, but that instead they were complex, powerful, independent women who could simultaneously express femininity and strength through their music and their actions. I don’t always agree with the actions they choose, but there is a choice – and your choices do have an impact on our culture. I hope that you find success by doing it your way and that you choose to portray a positive example for young women everywhere. I wish you the best now and in the future.
A Dad of Two Young Girls
Great post! Its a shame when these actresses/musicians start out on Disney and gain a core following of young girls, and then feel the need to distance themselves by being as scandalous as possible.
As the mom of an impressionable 10 year old girl, I am absolutely loving this letter. It is so eloquent and non confrontational, unlike so many of the “open letters” I read on blogs these days. I actually think you should send this to Ariana! And oodles of brownie points to your Hubby for writing it.