Monday, October 13, 2008

We all have triggers

and there's nothing like a good article on child-directed marketing to set mine off. My 15 regular readers already know full-well who I am and what I believe in so the rant directly beneath you isn't anything you haven't already heard me spew. Sorry for not talking about anything new. We're all sick with the creeping crud here and I've got to vent my frustrations somewhere. :D

There can be no further rock-bottom in parenting than allowing our children to be sexualized.



I believe with all my maternal instincts, that because we allow little girls and by proxy, little boys, to not only receive sexual messages but to receive approval for accepting these sexual messages, we are devastating an entire generation of human beings. Maybe you're thinking “How could a parent, a very capable parent, a parent who unconditionally loves and nurtures their child approve of sexualization? You’re just being a judgmental bitch again Renée.” It’s not that I believe most parents advocate and endorse these messages consciously. I think many loving parents just accept pop culture because it’s easy and it makes their kids happy. It’s pop. It’s normal. It’s regular. It’s what we’re told our kids are into these days. Like a colony of rats running in circles towards the same hunk of moldy cheese because it's what we've been told to do.

I’m not exempt.

My older kids could live, breathe and eat Disney’s Pirates of The Caribbean. Don’t think it doesn’t piss me off and frustrate me. Don’t think I don’t scrutinize the melodramatics of Kiera Knightley’s very nubile, stick-thin character. My daughter now covets and begs for posters of Johnny Depp portraying the suave Captain Jack Sparrow. My daughter’s watched many of the Disney Princess movies – classic stories we’re told, of helplessness and heroism that colorfully silence our daughters’ sense of worth if she is without Prince Charming. A must-have each holiday season as the latest digitally re-mastered DVD makes its way from the Disney vault. I bought into it for years and I can only allay my guilt be a better mother by re-learning how to parent without the excessive exposure. And I still struggle to find a common ground with my children, a happier medium between a pop culture void of individualism but bursting with total glorification of the mayhem and spoon-fed marketing. Hannah Montana clothing and cosmetics? Why not? Just don’t check out Miley Cyrus’ Myspace profile. HSM 1! 2! 3? For the love of puppies, how many years in a row do these kids get to go to prom and why are six-year-olds wearing pretty shirts with Zac Efron’s steamy gaze on them? The Fantastic Four may be rated PG-13 but that’s not really significant. As long as the movie figurines make their way into the Happy Meals that are likely consumed by the ten and under crowd, consider it a job well done. I get a niggling feeling that they didn’t cast Jessica Alba for her outstanding acting skills.

We’re drowning our kids in it and it’s fucking freaking me out.

Although presumably benign (it’s just a little bit of lipstick and nice set of hips Mum), the pop culture of Bratz dollz encourages those subliminally mixed messages to become normal wiring in the highly suggestible brains of an entire generation. All I know is that generation = a really big number. For so SO long I fought having any meaningful inner dialogue with myself on this issue because Oh Em Gee! Bratz are adorable! So sparkly, painted, bendy and new. Those shoes with that lipstick shade? A perfect match. And those evocatively charming tops are exactly what my husband would want to see me wearing the next time we go parking. And Barbie dolls are socially accepted, so why not these newer, more tween-intended dolls? Why could I never get onboard with the Bratz? Why did I get so angry inside if ever my little daughter showed any amount of interest in them? Why did they terrify me? The answer was always so blatantly obvious but recognizing it was too painful, too real. There was always something about the Bratz that made my inner little girl plug her ears, squint her eyes and yell LA LA LA LA LA LA LA. I can’t hear you.

More than anything in this world, I’m afraid for my daughter to be sexualized before she’s ready. That’s the reason.

But as with all progress, the sometimes hopeless voice of dissent refuses to shut its damned mouth and we slowly evolve.

Bratz banned from Scholastic book clubs and fairs.

I KNOW, RIGHT? It's about goddamned time an educational corporation woke the hell up from its bureaucratically-induced coma and advocated for our children.

Now if only Santa would bring me an inauguration speech from Obama too, then all my peppermint Christmas wishes will have come true.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home