Feminism, marketing, raising little girls, plus a bit of homeschooling
From the couple of articles I’ve read, and the excerpt of her book, I can tell I’m not nearly as feminist as Peggy Orenstein. But, I still put her brand-new book, Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture, on hold at the library. We seem to think very similarly, at least on some things. In one article, Orenstein recounts how her daughter’s tastes radically and immediately changed, upon entering “preschool” at the age of two, discarding her formerly beloved pin-striped overalls and love of Thomas the Train and taking on a new, rabid adoration of pink tulle and Disney Princesses. For now, let’s skim past the part where people feel compelled to SCHOOL THEIR CHILDREN AT THE AGE OF TWO, to the part where marketing and peer pressure have so adversely affected our society that our two-year-olds reject their “first loves” in lieu of what’s being shoved down their teensy throats by Madison Avenue!
You think I exaggerate? I do not, fair reader! It starts even earlier than that!!!
Late last month, the company quietly began pressing its newest priority, Disney Baby, in 580 maternity hospitals in the United States. A representative visits a new mother and offers a free Disney Cuddly Bodysuit, a variation of the classic Onesie.
In bedside demonstrations, the bilingual representatives extol the product’s bells and whistles — extra soft! durable! better sizing! — and ask mothers to sign up for e-mail alerts from DisneyBaby.com.
The above excerpt is from a New York Times article dated February 6, 2011, my emphasis added.
Another disturbing tidbit:
Disney estimates the North American baby market, including staples like formula, to be worth $36.3 billion annually. Its executives talk about tapping into that jackpot as if they were waging a war. “Apparel is only a beachhead,” said Andy Mooney, chairman of Disney Consumer Products.
For those who may wonder about Disney’s intentions to further infiltrate your home,
1. A position on an enemy shoreline captured by troops in advance of an invading force.2. A first achievement that opens the way for further developments; a foothold.
I am stridently opposed to marketing directly to children. I praise the likes of my cousin, Romney, who has campaigned to rid her own preschooler’s school of its McDonald’s affiliation, in which the school receives money in exchange for “events” where children attend mandatory pep rallies with Ronald McDonald, and are given Happy Meals, all without parental consent, all built into the school day. (And people wonder why homeschooling school days are so short. Why, because we actually LEARN STUFF during our school day — apparently trivial, outdated stuff like math, and literature, and grammar, and history — and don’t attend baldfaced marketing sessions given by the McDonald’s corporation!! But, I digress.)
Well, maybe I’m not digressing. One of the unintended benefits of homeschooling is that my children feel much more free to develop into the people God made them to be. They’re not mocked (at least, not regularly!) for their interests, nor pressured away from something — anything, be it their Christianity, to their choice of clothes! — just because The Herd does not endorse it.
So. I’m sure Orenstein, in her book, is not trying to make a case for homeschooling. But, since that’s a passion in my heart, I can’t help but see that part of the problem might be the pressure to place our children in preschools as early as the tender age of two, schools which aren’t so much a center for real learning, but a hotbed of social conformation, where our wee ones are unknowingly being sucked up into the “invading force[s]” of the likes of Disney Baby!
ALL OF THAT SAID… Part of me is really pleased that my four year old, Audrey, feels very free to be a girl. I was startled when she began exhibiting true girlie-girl behavior — coyly flirting with Daddy and having a passion for shoes — before she could even crawl!! And, I’m glad to give her a home in which she feels confident in her super-girliness.
Just this morning, I laughed delightedly over the Pillow Princess she made. Onto the floor, she laid a (hand-me-down) Disney Sleeping Beauty dress-up dress, under which she placed various throw pillows, to give it a plumped-out appearance. Another pillow, fringed, formed the Pillow Princess’s head, onto which she placed an Ariel tiara (also hand-me down), and cut-outs, made from white paper, colored with Crayons, which formed the eyes, nose, and very pink mouth.
There’s a fine line there… I know I’m treading it with care, trying to give my daughters the freedom to express their femininity — even if it does include an excess of pink frilly stuff! — without exposing them to so much marketing that they feel like they’re “supposed” to love Disney Princess, and they need to discard anything not-pink.
Posted on February 14, 2011, in Babies, Birth, Books I'm Reading, Character Development, Clothes, Homeschooling, Introspective Musings, Library, Motherhood, Parenting, Political Thought, Sad Things, Scary stuff, Shopping, The Kids. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.