Some may watch the music video from Kelly Clarkson's hit song Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You) and conclude the line dance performed by Clarkson and her crew looks a little cheesy.
If they saw me trying — and I do mean trying — to do the dance with my 10-year-old daughter, they would conclude my efforts reach a laughable combination of provolone, Monterey Jack and cheddar on the cheesy scale.
Still I try, because within the lyrics of the song lies a message I want my daughter to embrace.
What doesn't kill you makes you stronger
Stand a little taller
Doesn't mean I'm lonely when I'm alone
What doesn't kill you makes a fighter
Footsteps even lighter
Doesn't mean I'm over cause you're gone.
Granted, Clarkson sings about overcoming a failed relationship and that's not my daughter's concern as a fourth-grader.
But I try to get her to gravitate toward any song that offers a message of self-empowerment, because in some ways, she's already facing a societal tidal wave of negativity that can erode her confidence.
The Associated Press reported this month that girls as young as 10 have taken to posting videos of themselves on YouTube asking the question, "Am I pretty?"
Some of the responses have been anything but pretty. According to AP, some declare the young video creators "attention whores," ask for sex and to see them naked. Some call them "fugly" or worse.
One responder asked, "Y do you live, and kids in africa die?"
The technological advancements offered with mobile phones and the Internet add another dimension to the existing pitfalls that already exist for young girls.
Put navigating the Internet and social networks with the pressures of the "beauty industry" and the plight of eating disorders, cutting and other psychological challenges, and it's easy to understand why I'm searching for ways to stem the tide.
Certainly, my wife and I strive to serve as positive role models and build up Madelyn's world view. It can be difficult, however, to go from calling her "daddy's little girl" to telling her to "kick butt and take names."
So, every now and then I look through the pop music catalog to find an uplifting message, because when the words come from a celebrity, it resonates in a different way.
She's no longer surprised when I play India.Arie's I Am Not My Hair or Video on the way to school.
I'm not the average girl from your video
And I ain't built like a supermodel
But I learned to love myself unconditionally,
Because I am a queen.
I have a few more on my inspirational playlist — Natasha Bedingfield's Unwritten, Mary Mary's Get Up, Taylor Swift's Someday — but truth be told there are far more songs with the wrong message than the right message. When she sings I'm Sexy And I Know It, she laughs.
In the end, I'm a dad with a tool belt, arming myself with all the weapons I can find to beat back the negativity. Considering our debates about some of her television choices or how she can't let the mean words of a classmate make her upset, it's not easy.
But you know, what doesn't kill me will make me stronger.
That's all I'm saying.