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Jewesses with Attitude

Glee's sexy cover as a "teachable moment"

I am such a Gleek. So naturally I was fascinated by the uproar caused by the risque, but let’s just face it crazy-hot, GQ photo shoot that Leah blogged about here.

My first reaction was wishy washy at best-- they so have a right to do what they want BUT yowsers was that ever bold! But for the most part I thought that the topic wasn’t mine to contemplate. Not my worry to buy because my girls are so young, too young, to be affected by the “Glee girls magazine debacle.”

While my kids can sing along like serious rockstars to the Glee soundtracks, at ages four and six they don’t watch the show. So I washed my hands clean of the heated debate and left it to those other moms. You know, the ones with the older-more-trickier-aged daughters.

But this weekend I braved the craziness of the mall and karma gave me a swift kick in the ass. As we were browsing my girls saw, noticed and pointed out the magazine cover. Just like all of the debacle-nay-sayers said that they would.

“Look mom, Glee!” Kayli, my six year old announced. Chloe, my four year old, followed suit with, “Should we get this?” And they both just stood there. Looking up at me with their gorgeous, impossibly deep brown eyes like I was supposed to know what I was doing or something.

Now I’m not going to lie to you here-- the moment gave me pause, for sure. The photos are sexy. Revealing. Provocative. So not what I want my girls to be doing, seeing, emulating or idolizing, right? My feminist ideals and sociology minor learnings were telling me, no yelling at me, the right answer here is: A big fat NO.

But let’s just back up a little bit. I’m fierce about my girls never feeling like they have to wear anything revealing, pose sexy, vampy or be anything at all that they don’t want to be.

And yet. Yet. I’m also passionate about them never shying away from their bodies or their sexuality. I want them to love themselves. And I don’t want them to judge or have disdain for beauty. At all.

So I realized that I actually didn’t have a reason to be afraid of the magazine. Or to avoid it. Or to insult the Glee girls for it. Putting down sexiness isn’t what feminism is about.

It’s about owning who you are. Making your own choices. And loving yourself for it. Because you can.

Defining your own sexuality is important, vital even, for development. So the messages that I send my girls right now do matter. They’ll remember how I talk (and don’t talk) about my own body, my own self image and my own view of sexuality. They’ll also remember how I react to and talk (and don’t talk) about, other people’s bodies and images.

So all of this was swirling around my brain, giving me a headache really. And my heart was beating faster, also giving me a headache. But I didn’t hide the magazine from my girls. I didn’t buy it either. But we didn’t walk away. What we did do was stop and talk about it. Briefly.

Do they look pretty? Do you like what they’re wearing? Would you ever wear that? Did you know that you can make that choice? And as they get just a bit older, What messages are they sending with those clothes? Those poses? Here’s what I see. What message do you want to send? If you want to send whatever-message, then what will you wear? Say? Do?

With every fiber of my being I don’t think that the Glee girls did anything wrong with those photos. And those same fibers also tell me, deep down in my Mama gut, that neither beauty nor sexiness is anti-feminist. In any way.

It’s all about choice. The have-to-dos versus the want-to-dos and how you feel about the choices that you have, that you make, that you own.

There’s a danger in drowning out the true meaning of owning our bodies. It doesn’t mean to hide it or be ashamed of it. It means being comfortable with, appreciative of and careful with our bodies. In whatever way speaks to us. And teaching that gem to our girls. And letting other girls and other moms find their way, too. Even if their way looks, sounds, feels different than ours does. That’s feminism. That’s raising girls who live boldly, who are bold. And who are true to themselves.

The dialogue is powerfully and beautifully wide open when our girls are young. We need to capitalize on that. Right now.

Galit Breen blogs as the "Minnesota Mamaleh" at You can find her there or on Twitter.

Glee Cast on GQ Magazine Cover, 2010
Full image
Glee's Jewish stars Diana Agron and Lea Michele appear on the cover of GQ with co-star Cory Monteith, 2010.
Courtesy of GQ Magazine.

How to cite this page

Breen, Galit. "Glee's sexy cover as a "teachable moment"." 30 November 2010. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on January 21, 2017) <>.


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