Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Fighting the Brand (How I gave Up)

When Miss D was first born it was my firm intention not to fill her head full of branded characters. I wanted her to use her imagination to come up with her own fantastic creations. I wanted to read her stories and have her imagine her own visual images to go along with the characters.

My ILs are Disneyphiles and the indoctrination started early. Husband's Aunt gave her a very nice Snow White doll (collector's item) as a first Christmas gift. She received a Winnie-the-Pooh lego type set. I referred to the characters as "bear" and "tiger" but within a week of Grandma's visit they were "winnie" and "tigger". We received lots of hand-me-down clothing from her cousin covered in princesses- which instantly led me to concern that she would grow up with warped views of womanhood and femininity. All the while I think my IL's viewed my efforts with a certain bemusement. If I made my wishes known they would certainly do their best to follow them. ("Tigger" going back to "Tiger") With occasional lapses out of habit.

I think they always knew what I would soon learn, which was: Give Up.

First of all there ain't a show on the television, or a book series you can read that doesn't have specific images associated with it that can than be found on merchandise. Earlier this summer marked the first time Miss D grabbed a box of Dora-imprinted fruit snacks (conveniently located at her eye level) at the grocery store.

But truly what put a stake in it for me was when I accompanied her to Disneyland. This was actually her second visit if you can believe that. (Yes- my child is Spoi-led) She enjoyed everything, even the characters she wasn't familiar with. And then we went to the Hundred-Acre-Wood. She went apeshit. She was just SO excited to see Eyore (he was her favorite for some reason) and Pooh and Tigger. And we waited in line forever to take our pictures with them and she was smiling and excited the entire time. This being the age where what is real and what is not is blurry. She had not seen the movie or read the books at this point- she really just knew them from her playset. It was magical for me too, seeing it through her eyes.

So I gave up after that. I didn't have the heart to do it any longer. It will be interesting to see how my feelings on the matter will change as she gets older.


Lakeview Coffee Joe said...

I've heard of parents doing things like this and I really can only comment from the sidelines (not having children of my own), but it seems like all the other kids that she'll be playing with know ALL about these characters and that she would be at a disadvantage in conversation if she didn't as well.

So I think you've done a fine job and now that she's getting more exposure to Disney, she'll be just fine too.

Stacy said...

I had the same intentions about branded characters - especially on clothes for some reason. I think we have a happy medium - Charlie knows who the kid characters are, but we also play "pirate" and "bear" without having to name them. I totally hear you though - the only thing I still haven't given up on is never having Barney on the TV in our house. :)

Dad said...

I suppose some homily about your parents attempts to keep certain activities associated with your personal older child years (such as high school) out of your life and our utter failure with the same would be less than appreciated here.

alexis said...

I think in the US it's a losing battle! maybe one way to twist the fight in your favor is not to throw in the towel completely, but through subversion of the system? Make up stories or different persona for these characters?

Anonymous said...

I agree - give up. Keep in mind, my job used to involve a certain clown from a certain restaurant and trying to keep him top of mind with kids.
For whatever reason, I have never been bothered my my kids liking branded characters. I've just always felt like as a parent (and after interviewing kids for years), I have bigger fish to fry.