Thursday, June 5, 2008

I Was Born With a Plastic Spoon in My Mouth

My daughter has been digging this tune by The Pierces, "Boring". I'll admit, I don't hate it. But that's beside the point. One of the verses is:

Galliano
Donatella
Dolce & Gabbana
Boring.

Lea informs me that her friend - the one who turned her on to this band in general and this song in particular - informed my daughter that, "Those are designers. I figured you wouldn't recognize them, since you don't have much money."

Now, I ask you, how patently offensive is this?

We are not rich, it's true, but neither are we poor. And knowing the names of designers hardly makes one rich. No more than having money makes one have class.

I recalled an incidence where, in the late 80's, I told a pre-schooler I liked her jeans. She promptly (and proudly) corrected me: "Not just jeans. GUESS jeans". 3 years old and a slave to the label. I'd probably be remiss if I didn't confess to falling for the hype once or twice myself. Can you say Coach briefcase? I thought you could.

I am trying so hard to raise my children with values that go deeper than a label, and this little incident reminded me how hard that was going to be. I'm dreading the day they can drive (for so many reasons) because I've seen the parking lot at the high school they'll be attending. They will not be driving brand new expensive cars. WE don't drive brand new expensive cars. When they inevitably whine about "all the other kids..." it won't be much of an exaggeration.

Similar instances from my own past include (but are not limited to):

- I stopped wearing a leather jacket that I loved because a (stupid) boyfriend told me it "made me look common". (no, I didn't stay with him long after that, but the damage was done. I never wore that jacket again)

- I registered for expensive china I've used about 3 times since my wedding almost 13 years ago because a friend (who was into that sort of thing) convinced me it was "what one did". When I think of the practical things I could've done/had for the money my friends and relatives put into that china, I shudder.

- Leased a big ole SUV a few years back rather than buying a vehicle I could actually afford. (thank Jeebus that was a while back and I'm in a much more gas friendly mid-size now)

You get the picture. I'm not above trying to keep up with the Joneses. But I was so hoping my progeny would be...

3 comments:

Chris said...

We grew up poor. "...As church mice", one might say. I was confronted everyday with the fact that my family didn't have much, and designers labels were the ticket to self-worth. Good to see in 20 years not much has changed.

I also must admit, for very selective items I do occasionally covet a "designer". Mostly for the pure design aesthetic of, say, a handbag (Kate Spade 'London Tote', anyone?). I don't have it. I don't really plan on getting it. But I understand that sort of compulsive desire to obtain it.

Kids are ridiculously cruel, especially the way they claw and scramble to be the most popular, the coolest. I think it's gotten way out of hand, and I have no idea how I'm going to be able to advise Reese when the time comes for her to have to deal with all that noise.

On a side note, I LOVE the Pierces...kill kill kill and secret are some of my favorites.

Tammy said...

"Secret" has been the soundtrack to our summer so far...

As far as advising Reese when the time eventually (and inevitably)comes, you'll do the right thing. My two girls' responses to this issue are night and day. Lea is caught up in it - and I fear for her. Olivia, on the other hand, has gone so far in the other direction. She is all about comfort and function. She sometimes looks very silly to this end, but when we try to tell her "that doesn't match" or whatever we might try to tell her, she shrugs and says "who cares? it's comfy. and it has pockets. and I like it this way." This book: http://www.amazon.com/World-Were-Blind-Judgement-Prejudice/dp/0966853040/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1213093270&sr=8-1 , which was presented to her in second grade by their guidance counselor, seemed to be the impetus for her.

It's also hard to raise the girls to not care, when it's pretty obvious that I do care myself. Not so much about the labels, but about "what people think".

Le Sigh.

mujeradelmundo said...

Peer pressure and wanting "to belong" no matter how independent and different we may find ourselves -and unfortunately not only when we are young-this fear of inadequence rears its ugly head...

and unfortunately I have the feeling this is only so much worse in the states-funny what looks poor now to some-I am always a bit shocked when I am back -its sad...