Through Their Own Lenses

Lately when I download pictures, I find all sorts of mystery shots. Aviva has taken to roaming the house with the digital camera, documenting her world. I found this one kind of haunting.

When I was in high school, I went to a lecture at Smith College, something to do with the connections between pornography and sexual violence against women. I don’t remember the details, but something steeled itself in me that night. There were horrible stories and statistics and many images – women in parts, women disembodied, dehumanized, objectified – like this one, many of them advertisements for an array of products, from all kinds of media.

I do not want my daughters to see themselves in parts.

I want to shield them from the crazy images that pervade our lives. Part of me knows this is naive and that they will only be shielded in as much as our home isn’t filled with much of that – no commercial TV, for example. But they will go off to public schools, they will go into the world, and the best we can do is treat them as the complete, unique individuals we know them to be.

I believe that we are all created b‘tselem elohim – in the image of the divine. Without exceptions or limits.

I’m also aware that perception is everything. I don’t know what Aviva saw through the viewfinder. Better ask her later.

I’m not sure why this stuff is on my mind today. As I venture into writing more offline, I find myself square in the middle of 1984. Ten years old, the youngest of three girls. Going back to memories and images of myself at that time, I feel the beginnings of something both vulnerable and powerful. Something pivotal. I have no idea where the writing will take me, but I do find myself wondering what experiences my daughters will remember, how they will see the world. How they will see themselves. How they will see me.

My deepest prayer is that they they will always know themselves to be beautiful and strong and whole – through the only lenses that ultimately matter: Their own.

8 thoughts on “Through Their Own Lenses

  1. bella says:

    The fragmentation and dissection is handed to girls and how quickly, how easily, we fall into its grip.
    Your wish for your daughters moves me.
    To be whole, more than just a collection of parts, but a self beyond them all together.


  2. lahdeedah says:

    Having an 11-year-old girl, I say the same prayer: for her to see herself beautiful, strong, whole.

    And, I’m late to the “I Want to Write” post, but it’s clear that your pool of potential topics is deep. Can’t wait to see what you produce offline, Jena.



  3. She She says:

    I struggle with having a daughter. I want her to see herself as whole, too. That’s why I work so hard to see myself that way. She needs to see that I walk the walk. Hard to do in America, 2008!


  4. Karen says:

    They will see themselves as they see themselves, because all of us take this journey from whole, to part, to whole. So do not see yourself in parts, and perhaps they can make the roundtrip in a shorter time, seeing yourap tient welcome wave on the front porch.

    Or so it seems to me.


  5. Jena Strong says:

    Thanks Jill, She She, Bella & Karen – for reminding me that I’m not in this alone, and that we all circle around, doing our own work just as the girls will grow and do theirs.

    Love to all of you.


  6. Shelli says:

    Serendipity I guess because I’m writing something that is taking me back in time to when I was a very young teenager, and it makes me think of my son and how can I give him a better experience? Is that even possible?



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