This is where you find out that I'm old. This is where you find out that, deep in my heart, I am a baffling combination of conservative old-fashioned mom and radical lesbian feminist. How's that for a combo (hold the pickles, hold the lettuce)?
Here's what I REALLY don't get.
Bratz dolls. Redeeming features? Anyone?
Tight, revealing, suggestive, clothing for little girls. Pants or shorts for young girls with writing on the butt (could someone please explain to me why ANYONE would want strangers focusing their gaze on their six--or eight--or ten year old's butt?). Black lace and thong underwear for children. The total absence of any adventure or science related imagery on girls clothing.
Hannah Montana, High School Musical, the Cheetah Girls, Britney Spears as programming and role models for five, six, seven year old girls.
Beauty pageants for children. (or for adults, for that matter, but I'm getting off topic)
The baffling inability of Disney to produce a movie that does not have compulsory heterosexuality as its primary theme.
Denial that any of this makes a difference, despite plentiful research and evidence.
What I don't get the most is the abdication of parents.
"That's what she likes!" (That's nice, or better yet...of course)
"What can I do?" (You can say no)
"It's the only thing she'll wear!" (Do you really think she is going to go to school naked?)
"Who am I to tell her she can't watch that?" (You're the parent).
What else can you do? Tell your kids about the deception of advertising. Tell them it's a business. Explain why all the movies have accompanying toys distributed through fast food restaurants. Tell your kids, as one of my friends did, that if Disney (or Nike, or Nickelodeon) wants usto advertise their products, they can pay us, just like they would anyone else. Short of that, we're not going to be walking billboards.
In our house, since our daughter was tiny, every time the ads came on (which we avoided for many years with the help of PBS), we would laugh and say "We don' t need that!". In pretty short order, she started saying the same. When she got a little older, we explained that commercials made things look or work differently than they really did. She is a permanent skeptic of all commercials. It's not that hard.
Tell your daughters that it's okay to shop in the boy's department, since that's the only place they can find the same jeans they got in the girls department when they were four, and the only place they can buy a t-shirt that won't cut off circulation in their upper arms. If it was okay at four, it's okay at six.
In the end, people are going to buy what they buy, whether I get it or not. But I can dream. I can dream of the day when we all think of the potential long-term messages and ramifications of the seemingly insignificant choices we make in early childhood, and examine whether those messages match our values and goals. Sure. Of coure. You're right. It might not make any difference--you had Barbies and you turned out fine (well, all things considered). Or it might make a difference--in many cases it does. The important thing, to me, is to be able to defend your decisions and accept responsibility for fallout, if and when it occurs.
But really, stay away from those Bratz dolls. Yick.