Unpacking my feelings about K-Pop for kids
Kiddo (7.5 yo) knows about BTS, barely. They have pop singles playing on the radio and are mainstream enough that NPY enjoys it. More recently, NPY keeps playing this K-pop girlband named New Jeans (?) initially to illustrate how their OMG video has gone viral and inspired so many TikTok dance memes. He then showed more videos from this girl group and all my red flags went up.
Am I being reasonable?
These are the reasons I think it’s “okay”:
+ It’s great there’s Asian representation, or Asian role models: Kiddo sees people like him succeeding in arts, being regarded as cool and idols.
+ Dance is great – learning choreography and rhythm and some cute lyrics is a lifelong development win.
+ By dint of the relatively conservative culture in Korea, it’s almost family friendly in the way they dress and dance (flip-side outlined below).
+ Kiddo is 7.5 years old – we can’t keep him in a bubble and he won’t be happy we did that. But he has an impressionable 3.5 yo sister who should be sheltered and know only of Bluey and Raffi and Daniel Tiger; but she sees everything he sees.
These are the reasons I think it’s not okay:
– It’s not diverse representation – it’s a group of girls who all have the same wide-eyed doll-look unattainable by real standards: harmful for boys and girls to see and idolize.
– Still about diversity – there is no body diversity, nothing but so skinny there are no curves. I don’t imagine that body inclusivity is just around the corner for these manufacture pop bands.
– The dancing style and dress are conservative only compared to what the US is pumping out which makes official music videos for American groups super inappropriate for kids. I know that I veer into dangerous territory of my conditioning sexualizing clothing choice and dancing but I also know I have reason to be very, very wary.
– I worry we’re only one loose comment about their looks or someone saying they are sexy or hot from NPY and I will scream and shout to shut it down and Kiddo and Baby are ruined for life about evaluating people based on their looks.
How much of this is me being old and bitter I’m not a hot MILF and fighting the knee-jerk reaction to make fun of girlbands because that’s what the alternative kids do? I know I’m not completely out of line to worry about too-early exposure to pop culture.
I saw an IG story recently I wish I screenshot. It said something like how the first thought you have (e.g., “wow, she’s fat now”) is a result of your conditioning. The second thought where you remind yourself to be kinder, more empathetic, to look beyond the surface, is who you really are. I really want that to be true. And for the kids’ sake, I hope they have far less conditioning to undo than we do!