Is Willow Smith Appropriate for My Tween?
In her new video “Summer Fling” finds twelve-year-old daughter of Will and Jada Pinket Smith, Willow, looking (in my opinion) every day of sixteen.
Many parents and media watch dogs who have watched the video find nothing wrong with it. But many have watched the video and launched an assault against Willow and her parents including People.com and Huffington Post. Some of the racier media articles claim the song tells the tale of sex.
A lot of moms have written in to ask me to weigh in on the subject, so here goes. First of all, who can say a thing about this without noting that Willow is one of the sweetest things on the face of the planet? And the video in and of itself is refreshingly sweet. If only all music videos were so tame.
That doesn’t mean Willow’s video is not something to be concerned about. (Although, I’m not gonna go where the secular media has gone with its sensational accusations.)
Here’s the problem: based on years of study, I know that this video just dramatically increased the risk of an early sexual debut for a lot of twelve year olds who will watch it. How do I know? Because several factors converge to raise the risk in young teens. Let’s look at two of them.
Appearing older than you actually are was once declared by the Medical Institute for Sexual Health as a factor that increased the risk of a teen becoming sexually active. I asked three teenagers to watch this video and guess Willow’s age. They guessed 14, 15, and 16. When I told them she was twelve, their mouths dropped open to the floor.
Now, the artists really did a nice job with Willow’s make-up. It’s very age appropriate, but put her in died-hair and cut-offs with a crop top dancing amidst girls in bikinis with more mature bodies and she looks every bit the teenager. The only thing that’s twelve years old in this video is what’s between Willow’s chin and forehead. This is a risk to her and to every one of our young daughter’s who aspires to be like her. (And who wouldn’t? She’s a doll!)
I’ve long wanted to make a video that proves how you can make a tween look like a teenager. I don’t have to. Willow has done it for me.
A second risk that can cause an early sexual debut is having a boyfriend/girlfriend for six months or longer. I sincerely believe that the likelihood of having a serious relationship for that long increases if you start having them early. And age twelve is early. The lyrics of this song includes:
“We walk the beach at midnight, and watch the stars in the clear skies
We both say I love you, but it’s alright.”
What twelve year old do you know who is allowed to walk the beach at midnight? Hopefully none. And I can’t help but think that the admission that they say they love each other and follow it with “but it’s alright” is wrought with the knowledge that maybe…just maybe…it isn’t.
I’ll defend the lyrics just a bit to say that I don’t think when she sings, “We do it anyway” in the chorus she is referring to having sex with the boy (who is obviously older than she is) as some in the media have accused. The song is much more innocent than that and we don’t need to exaggerate to conclude that maybe this one is less innocent than it appears to be. This is not a song about sex. It’s a song about young love.
But there is such a thing as a love that is too young.
And while people are arguing about whether criticism of this video is legalistic, I’m more interested in what’s next. Where will Willow’s tween fans be led?
Why don’t you take a look as you decide if she’s on your daughter’s video play list.
Moms, we may just be divided on this one, but let’s at least think it through and be wise about the decisions you make with your daughters when they are twelve. What’s your call on the Willow Smith videos?
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