Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Buy, Buy, Baby

Buy, Buy, Baby

Last week my friend Janette, who was taking over little kids'
story hours while our children's librarian was at a conference, wanted
me to sit in and help with the singing. I observed the sensitive
interplay between the youngsters and their attentive caretakers. My
little chum and muse, Castine, was there with her Grampie Ed. At one
point I was looking at her and wondering how any marketer could see
such a sweet, innocent child as merely a source of commercial profit.
Sadly a whole lot of them do. The proof is in Susan Gregory Thomas'
Buy, Buy Baby: How Consumer Culture Manipulates Parents and Harms
Young Minds.
It starts early. Some new mom/baby pairs leave the hospital
with Baby Einstein products. Experts recommend that children under
two have no media exposure. To learn and thrive they need safe places
to explore, objects that can be manipulated, and loving, attentive
humans who see them as precious beyond compare. Yet 61 percent of six-
to-twenty-three-month olds watch television, many on televisions in
their bedrooms. And a lot of folks are taking advantage of parents
fears of their infants falling behind in a fast paced society by
peddling programs and products that can allegedly speed up their
cognitive development.
Many children get doubly exposed to media and commercial
products when they spend time in day care or preschool. These spaces
where our youngest are tended to operate on shoe string budgets,
making them pushovers for free curriculum and promotional samples.
Spillover anxiety from a standardized test based educational system
engenders the push for preacademics and material that will enable
them. Children at this developmental stage, however, thrive
emotionally and cognitively when they are allowed the adult
encouragement and open ended materials to play. And many of the free
materials given day care providers develop allegience to the
spokesbeings for products like fast food.
Thomas takes us through a marketing jungle that seeks to
penetrate every aspects of our children's lives. She shows us the
truly frightening effects these intrusions can have on their
cognitive, emotional, and social development. She reminds us that
doing "nothing"--hanging out, exploring the environment together, and
mindfully enjoying each others' company (as in the story hour) is the
best thing parents (and grandparents) can do for their kids...and
often the most difficult to achieve in a society where parents must
work increasingly long hours to merely afford the basics.
This is a most compelling read for parents, teachers, and all who
care about children.
On a personal note, last Saturday was one of the most magical nights
of my ENTIRE LIFE!!! The grand finale of Pride Week was a drag show.
I'd never participated in one before. (As if that would stop me!) It
was an evening of enchantment. All performers encouraged and valued
each other. And the audience was incredible. I dressed like a 1950s
greaser and performed to the title song from Grease. With the
audience so with me I performed my <3 out, even tossing my leather
jacket in the audience. I felt like I was flying, touching the
stars. And I won 2015 Best Drag King. YOWZA!!! It's a good thing I
didn't gain in height as much as I gained in confidence because I do
not want to be 6'7".
A great big shout out goes out to the performers and audience of the
Drag Show and the folks who worked behind the scenes to make it
happen. Especially Casey who pulled things together. She even had
the UMaine mascot, Bananas the Bear, performing in a frilly tutu
outfit. That was truly a sight worth seeing.
Julia Emily Hathaway

Sent from my iPod

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