Friday, February 23, 2007

My Kids Are NOT Walking Advertisements - Dora BackPack Backlash

Call me a snobby mommy. I admit it: I refuse to let my kids wear a single fake leather smelling scrap of trademarked, tacky cartoon character tattooed gear, including Lightening McQueen Cars crap, Dora drivel and Disney debris.

As Dana Carvey used to say while spoofing the first President Bush (when SNL still ruled Saturday night), "Naw gun' duh. Stay the course. Thousand Points of Light" and all the ridiculous rest.

No character apparel. No way. No how. Not ever.

To me, character TM apparel is to kiddie fashion what Kraft Squeeze Cheese is to the fromage industry. C'est domage. Yep, I'm a snoot. Calls 'em likes I see 'em, even when I am calling my own self out on an issue that makes me look like a jerk.

While you're at it, might as well call me a mean mommy. One who just says a hearty "No!" to her kids' persistent, nasal Target shopping aisle pleas for mass marketed, decal decked out clothes, light-up Velcro shoes and mini walking billboard/movie trailer junk in general. (That's right. My trademark run-on sentences are running on and on and on again. Old habits are hard to break.)

Finally, you can call me a hypocrite because I do have one faulty exception to my snooty no-character clothes rule. I do allow my character decal deprived kids to don cartoon character pajamas and underwear. Spiderman and Disney Princess ones, actually.

That way not one suspecting soul will witness them sporting Dora, Hello Kitty and The Hulk alongside snobby mama me in public. As if I'm too sexy for their shirts.

Nice or not, I purposely keep our nighttime TM merchandise marauding our very own dark, mass appeal, sell-out secret.

And I'd like to keep it that way, although now I've totally (over)exposed our nocturnal mass market conformity by admitting it here on my blog.

Then again, aren't embarrassing confessions that humanize/humble me as a real and flawed modern mama what this blog is about in the first place?

If you're Mcmerchandise sell-out happy and you know it and you really want to show it, well, good for you.

As for slightly pretentious me, I'm sticky to the plain stuff.

Take it with a grain of schmaltz, from a thrifty mom who gets most of her clothes second-hand from generous hand-me-down sources.

Dora defying Slackstress OUT.

So, which of you mamas are with me on this? If you're not, tell me about it. I'd like to hear both sides. Do tell.

*Hopefully someone out there in the blogosphere is actually reading this. Hopefully I haven't lost all five of my dedicated regular readers thanks to my embarrassing, over-the-head panty hose pull vlog. I'm still in shock that I actually hit "publish" on that one but there's no going back. My kids ran around like panty hosed robbers half the night after watching their wacky mama on YouTube. Talk abouy cheap AND fun. (more) (less)


At 6:08 PM, Blogger Adventures in Baby Fat said...

I'm somewhere in the middle. I used to be all gung-ho about. Irritation ruled the day when it was time for new sneakers and all I could find were those with characters.

As my son gets older I'm a little more easy on it. I prefer to have good quality sneakers that don't fall apart, yet I still pay out the nose for the Buzz Lightyear that glows on the side. I also allowed my daughter to have a Hello Kitty backpack simply based on the near hysterical joy he experiences whenever she sees anything resembling a cat. Mind you, it was canvas and quality, not that plasti-crap stuff that spams the stores these days.

So I'm selective. Sometimes they get it; sometimes they don't. But I do get your point. I hate that they market to kids in that way.

Also, I tell my kids no all the time at the store. And with my 4-year-old, he recently desperately wanted a movie. What did I do? I gave him little chores around the house to perform (wiping cupboards with a cloth and spray bottle filled with water, take out the bathroom trash, etc.). He had fun AND a sense of accomplishment.

Call CPS. Kids doing chores?! Whoda thunkit.

At 7:42 PM, Blogger Sarah said...

I am so with you on this one. Its uncanny really. I too allow dora pajamas and underware...that is IT. I can't stand fact one of my own blog posts a while back was about just this. I did succumb to a dora backpack for play. I too get a lot of hand me downs (love em) and am a frequent flyer at Target. I just hate to think of my kids being used to peddle more plastic crap. We have enough of it on my living room floor without me having to be reminded of it every time I look at one of my kids..thank you very much.

by the way....I loved the birthday post with the skanky thigh high. I nearly spit my coffee out laughing. Really sweet.

At 7:44 PM, Blogger Sarah said...

by the way, anyone else have the dora bus? Oh my GOD it is the worst thing ever. Its in my closet under a bunch of crap because it is so so so loud. It keeps resurfacing out of the basement or closet. That thing needs to disapear under the dark of night....

At 9:00 PM, Blogger charlotte said...

I think it's brilliant - allow the kids their fill of the Disney princesses and the Spidermen without allowing them to become human billboards for the corporations. I think I've been more or less doing that without making a theory of it. You've just provided the theory. So, thanks.

At 10:05 PM, Blogger Loralee Choate said...

I picked my kids school because they have a strict dress code: No logos at ALL.

That said, I am not militant about it outside of school. I will never name brand buy, but I think that sometimes having Scooby Doo on my son's shirt just makes him happy, so why not?

A happy medium is what works for me.

At 10:06 PM, Blogger Loralee Choate said...

I meant I will never EXCLUSIVELY name brand buy like many people I know. Sorry...

At 6:15 AM, Anonymous chris said...

since my youngest is 14, it's now fairly moot, but i've been another one with a foot on either side of the fence. your method appeals to me, it makes good sense!

At 6:16 AM, Blogger Oh, The Joys said...

While The Mayor can name some of these characters because he lives in the world and other people are not so snooty as you and I, he has no idea who they are...W00T!

At 7:22 AM, Blogger Christina said...

My daughter only has two character apparel shirts - and both are the concert T-shirts from attending Wiggles concerts. They're the only character clothing she has, and I'm happy with that.

Besides, character apparel has less resale and reuse value, since character fads come and go so quickly.

At 7:31 AM, Blogger Dawn said...

I'm kind of in the middle. I HATE character stuff, but the grandparents fuel the fire with buying clothes with Lightning McQueen and the Incredibles on them. Most of the clothes we have are hand-me-downs from my generous neighbor and her friends and thankfully they tend to buy nicer quality, non-characterized clothing. I refuse, absolutely refuse to let Kiddo have a character birthday party though. I despise birthdays looking like a cartoon threw up in my house. BLECH!

I like your compromise. Unfortunately it is getting harder and harder to find stuff without all the marketing crap. Dora Pop Tarts anyone?

At 8:22 AM, Blogger gingajoy said...

ooh. i like the V-log thing. Very much.

My son also has a lot of hand me down stuff--half of it with fricking spiderman on it, and he goes apeshit over it. (he's 4). And so it began...
I'm pretty much with you, but the flesh is weak. ALthough, when my husband came back from the store with my son last year with a HIDEOUS pair of spidey sneakers, I was secretly glad when son peed all over them (oh dear. we must throw these out).

I did buy him a backpack with spidey on it, though. Because he begged for it.

To be honest, I not only do not like the merchandising, I wish there were affordable alternatives to 3rd world labor shoes in general.

At 12:23 PM, Anonymous Estella said...

No way. No characters. Cheesy to the max. And we don't even live in snobby Southern Cali. We're out in the sticks where Walmart and Payless shoe source are the only clothing stores within 2 hours. Ditto. Naw gun' duh!!!

At 11:25 PM, Blogger Alpha DogMa said...

I don't think you're mean. Actually you are rather brave for making that video at the store! No one took offense at your words, I take it!? And your daughter is very cute.

Remember the good old days when you bought a brand name product as an assurance of quality not for shallow cache?

My biggest peeve are sweat shirts "Gap" printed on the front. That is just the height of "my kid is a billboard" mentality. I also loathe the Nike Swoosh.

My second biggest peeve (and this practically tied for first place) is diapers with licensed characters. When my youngest was first born I purposely chose Huggies because they had generic cartoon characters. All too soon they changed to Mickey Mouse (who I hate) so we switched to an off brand.

I confess that until recently my kids' shoes were branded with Bob the Builder. This was because they were made by Buster Brown and of good quality (for their fat, little oddly shaped feet). However the new licensee for Bob the Builder shoes is crap and so we've moved on.

Please someone explain to me the reasoning for the shoes that light up when the kids walks? Some sort of cheap test for eplipsy? So bloody dumb.

At 11:27 PM, Anonymous karenkt said...

I am also very with you on this. 98%. Well.... we love Thomas the Tank Engine at our house, and so #1 boy has a few TASTEFUL clothing items (hey, it's PBS, isn't that a redeeming quality??) And Papí works for Apple-- and Pixar is really Apple if you just scratch the surface, and so we have like 1 Lightning McQueen shirt and (again, tasteful) a Cars sweatsuit. Which was a gift. I was actually tentative to buy Diego PJ's, but they were on sale. We prefer the generic fire trucks and dinosaurs.
I was apalled, though, when Papi brought home a Lightning McQueen RUG for goodness' sake. I really don't like it for the reason that I don't want anything PERMANENT with characters on it. No Dora toddler beds, no Thomas lamps, no Elmo potty chair stools. No No No. When we get Spiderman hand me downs, I hand them on down. My kid doesn't even KNOW who Spiderman is. But then, SHOULD a 2 year old know who Spiderman is?

At 2:29 PM, Anonymous karrie said...

I'm down with Curious George gear, but it is hard to find. Generally though, I agree with your stance. (I did allow my son to get elmo sandals at Target when we were there with grammy, but I'm cringing at the thought of him wearing them in public. tacky, tacky!)

I'm also a 'snoot' about these kinds of things.

At 2:31 PM, Anonymous karrie said...

Oh, and I also love the vlogging!
May add one of my son freaking out because he wants "bubble tea" and screaming that the site of Pru across the river means I am "goin' da wrong waaaaay!"

At 6:53 AM, Blogger Iris said...

I am the complete opposite here. I could care less about the character stuff. Tuc is a Spiderman freak.....he has everything Spiderman. Ky used to be a Pooh girl, she loved Pooh bear. Now, she is into Disney princesses and Bratz and such. I just don't care. I am big on the quality too, so I am careful to buy stuff that won't fall apart, but I don't care whose picture is on it. The one thing I have figured out, this usually ends by the age of 10, when they don't want character stuff anymore. Unless, of course, it is inappropriate like Family Guy or Homer Simpson.......*LOL*.....

At 2:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

soooo with you on this. i refuse to purchase character apparel... i'm an even meaner mom, i won't even buy the jammies or undies. sorry, not happening. my daughter has one or two nighties that grandma purchased but that's it. if i could tell my mother-in-law of my 'no character rule' without hurting her feelings, i would. i hate character merchandise. tacky... tacky... tacky.

the shoes, eeeewww. i go so far as to not bring the kids shoe shopping. i purchase several tasteful pairs and bring them home to try on.

the classic, simple apparel is what i go for, goes with more stuff. give me a simple, plain llbean lunch bag or backpack and what do you know... i can even pass it on to a younger sibling. doesn't work so well with say, a spiderman backpack.

blah, blah, blah... sorry for the rant, but i so agree and i'm glad to hear that others do,too.

At 3:19 PM, Anonymous Estella said...

Okay. I might be bending on this one. Curious George *IS* pretty damn cute.

At 6:51 PM, Blogger Domestic Slackstress said...

Estella - Okay, I'll give you Curious George as a major cute player on the marketing scene. Not that I'm the official authority. Did you see those Thomas the Tank engine sheets on my latest vlog and my daughter's Dora nightgown? All from family as gifts. Blame them. Ha! I know someone who either sells unsightly gift clothes on eBay. That or she throws them directly in the trash. I just couldn't be that cold and cruel.

At 6:27 PM, Blogger Crunchy Carpets said...

so weird, I swear I posted on this.
We have the merch but within reason....and I love that Adam has a Doctor Who backpack..cracks me up everytime.

"Please someone explain to me the reasoning for the shoes that light up when the kids walks? Some sort of cheap test for eplipsy? So bloody dumb."----emmm cos it is fun!

My kids LUV their light up shoes and being that our version of target sells them at a reasonable price makes it fun to buy em for the kids instead of begging them to try them on.

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