Wednesday, May 2, 2012
I was greeted this morning with a bombardment of news about the woman in New Jersey who took her kid tanning. I watched it on the news, where self righteous newscasters read the story, while acting as judge and jury. It quickly spread like wildfire across Twitter, Facebook and every other social media site there is.
I joined in with a witty little comment about Oompa Loompa's and went about getting my perfectly parented cherubs off to school. Then I watched the woman defend herself on the news. In my view, her skin color alone speaks to her mental health. Even if you find this type of tanning attractive - the woman is clearly medicated. She may be high but the healthcare professional in me sees signs of psychotropic drugs. Either way - it appears to me that this woman is not well.
It made me sad, then ashamed. Apart from anything else - how is this national news? Two American soldiers died in Afghanistan today. Many more civilians died too. What are we thinking? Why do we allow ourselves to be led down this ugly path by the media? I have sunburned my children - more than once. Once my daughter had blisters from the poor care I took of her skin under the Mexican sun. Why didn't I get put in jail or get nationally mocked and chastised?
This is only a story because of the mother's appearance. We are addicted to judging and mocking. I know it doesn't have quite the same advertising revenue potential but what this woman needs is help. Maybe she needs information. Support. Guidance. You know those old things. Sure, we weary parents need some laughs, some entertainment, but let's not stoop so low. There are plenty of opportunities to mock and laugh (if you must) so called celebrities who choose to put themselves in front of the media in exchange for large sums of cash.
I believe it trickles down. I think when a story like this gets such media attention the judgement rolls down hill. We are lulled into a false sense of righteousness. We start looking to find fault in each other's parenting. This poor women is likely just like you and I in many ways. Trying her best, making mistakes. She has a story we most likely will never know. If we did, we might see her differently.
I don't want the mainstream media to set the standard for parenting. I don't think they are objective. I think they are the last place we should look. Parents struggle under the weight of peer pressure. They stress and grieve under the torment of their children being bullied, then we whole heartedly participate in this - national bullying. At least I did. I am off for my slice of humble pie.