FSU: All Dressed Up and Nowhere to Go
That giving up your life, your friends, your family relationships, your own dreams and ambitions for a guy is not only appropriate, but the romantic thing to do.
I am acutely aware about the messages she receives, the pressures exerted on her and her friends to be a reflection of the culture, one in which the red carpet rules, starlets behave badly and group sex on "Gossip Girl" constitutes teen programming.
So I have to admit the righteous indignation bubbled up a little as I called up the Florida State women's basketball Web site, looked over the flashing images of FSU players dressed up in satin strapless dresses and jewels, stepping out of a limousine as if they were arriving at the hottest club in Tallahassee.
And again when I saw the Texas A & M media guide cover, which features the players dressed in black formal wear, some with their dresses cut up to mid-thigh.
Both vehicles offered the alternate views as well, players in uniform and in action. But it was like looking at the two sides to a coin.
Basketball player. Glamour girl.
The other angles, the other sides of the athlete take a back seat. Students in the classroom. Community volunteers. Campus leaders. Those aren't your cover shots.
So is that what I tell my girl about this message?
You can be athletic and strong, but it is also important to clean up nice, to be attractive in a short skirt, to be the kind of girl that would make somebody want to pin your photo on their dorm room wall.
Granted, there are no bikini poses here, nothing inherently offensive photos portraying a group of young women dressed up for a night out.
What's objectionable is the this-or-that nature of the images. You can play hoops and you can walk in heels and that makes you multi-dimensional.
What's objectionable is feeling that you need to use beauty as an attribute to sell your team to new fans.
Setting up a glamour shoot, featuring it front and center and juxtaposing it with athletic bodies in motion is like hitting opposite ends of the spectrum without acknowledging that there's probably something equally beautiful in the middle.
There are any number of ways to portray these athletes in a flattering, attractive way that doesn't sexualize them.
Florida State head coach Sue Semrau said that was not her intent. She was looking to redesign her team's Web site and was looking over sites from other schools around the country and found them distinctly "cookie-cutter." She said she wanted something "edgy" that would "stand out."
The Seminoles glam photo shoot has caused a stir. The attention the team invited is not quite the kind it had in mind.
One women's basketball columnist questioned whether there was an undercurrent of homophobia to the site, an attempt to feminize the players to send a message about their sexual preference. That column made its way across the Internet, prompting more commentary and criticism about the way the players were portrayed.
Semrau disputes the idea that the shoot had anything to do with homophobia or was done to give clues as to the sexual preferences of her athletes.
"I anticipated that people were going to have opinions, but I'm surprised that people haven't taken a look at things that have gone on in the past," Semrau said. "Women can't put on dresses, but young men can put on suits? People can have their opinions, but none of what's been said is substantiated.
"We're trying to say that these young ladies are people first, students second and athletes third."
The coach said that she thinks people are attacking the photos on the site without digging deeper into the Web site's content, which includes images and stories from the team's trip to South Africa and its community work.
"We only had enough money to do the one photo shoot," Semrau said. "People are attacking the choice of what we put out there first."
Semrau thinks those who are criticizing the site and the images have got it wrong.
But Florida State and Texas A & M have gotten it a little wrong as well.
Semrau says that people need to dig deeper, but most won't, and the decision to put the glamour shots front-and-center is a conscious choice to make an impression. Dressing the players up in a quest to gain attention is actually selling them short.
Teams are looking at new ways, using new media, to market themselves. Web sites and YouTube videos are new imaging tools.
But these tools need to be treated with care, because these girls are all someone's daughters.
And they still need the right messages, such as, "you deserve to be admired for your commitment and strength and tenacity, and not ogled as a means to get people to realize it.''