Tossing Aside Innocence… in 1954

Last weekend I saw something so relevant to youth culture today that it could have been created last week. As it is… it was painted in the 1950’s.

Saturday my wife and I joined some friends and visited our local art museum to see the Norman Rockwell exhibit. Now, I don’t get very artsy in these blogs, and I won’t claim to be something I’m not. I can name a handful of artists and recognize their work, but most of you know that you’d be far likelier to find me at a Buffalo Wild Wings than a museum. But last weekend’s look at Norman Rockwell’s works really opened my eyes to how much Rockwell had his thumb on the pulse of youth culture in his day. And paintings like this one are almost timeless.

Isn’t that painting amazing? Simply titled, “Girl at Mirror,” this painting graced the cover of the Saturday Evening Post on March 6, 1954. Stare at the painting for a few moments and take in some of the details.

Notice the doll discarded on the floor. Is that symbolic of her attempting to cast away her youth? How do young girls do this today?

Notice the magazine with the picture of the model. Is that the standard she is trying to measure up to? What do our daughters try to measure up to today?

Notice her hands. Is this young girl secure in herself? What is she thinking as she sees her reflection? What do girls see today?

Notice the makeup and hairbrush at her feet. Are these what will replace the doll?

How relevant is this picture today?

As a youth worker and a parent, I might just show my kids this picture and ask them similar questions– a great little tool to get our kids thinking and talking.

The Rockwell exhibit was amazing. You can scroll down on this page and see a glimpse of some of the paintings I got to see firsthand. Amazing stuff. I have a new appreciation for the artist. I might just blog about a few other of his works.

About Jonathan McKee

president of The Source for Youth Ministry, is the author of over twenty books including the brand new If I Had a Parenting Do Over, 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid; Sex Matters; The Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket; and youth ministry books like Ministry By Teenagers; Connect; and the 10-Minute Talks series. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, TheSource4YM.com and TheSource4Parents.com. You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.
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5 Responses to Tossing Aside Innocence… in 1954

  1. dan manns says:

    wow jonathan. i like you am not an art aficionado. that being said i do like rockwell’s works; just the way he captures life’s more poignant moments. And boy does this painting capture a thought provoking moment. as a person who works with teenage female students and a father of 2 teenage daughters, this painting definitely struck a chord with me. It made me want to go home and tell my daughters how beautiful, how lovely and how precious they are. it made me want to teach our female students to be proverbs 31 ladies and not be so concerned with outward appearances. It made me want to remind them of 1 Peter 3:3-4: “Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.” Thank you for sharing Jon – you have inspired me yet again.

  2. Tracey says:

    The model is Jane Russell. (I think) She was a movie star bombshell back in the day. Think of Sophia Vergara today. This image is the exact representation of how girls in every era feel about themselves, not only promoted in the mass media world, but unfortunately sometimes by their peers and their families. It is sad that girls still feel a sense that they are not good enough, that something is wrong with them. Thanks for the great insight.

  3. Julie Smith says:

    Great time with you guys at the museum…glad we could get some other kind of “culture” into you…hee hee. Loved your response to that picture…so right on.