Reblogging that is. My previous post on girls and the color pink is so apropos and so illustrative of the changes and the overwhelming influence consumer culture has on the development of boys and girls. The US is the only country that permits unlimited advertising to children. Children are bombarded will consumerist materialism and are flat out told that not buying into, celebrating, worshipping in that culture makes them not, well human. And, no, I’m not being facetious or over the top.
Consumerist materialism invades everything from private choices to religious belief. And yet there are no real choices. It’s buy what is marketed to you or else. Girls can only have girl products and boys can only have not products, the advertisers declare and there should be no sharing or touching or playing with that which is not for you. Girls must stay confined to their arbitrated roles that have been set in stone by producers and any deviation must be shamed out of the girl.
Marketers say girls must only think about their physical appearance and wait to be rescued. No intelligence allowed especially not in math or science. Girls must worry about what others think and how they look, not on how to cure cancer or solve world hunger or spread the Gospel.
Yet, as much as advertisers and companies win they also lose. So you have a girl for a few years but then she finds waiting around to be rescued boring so she’s off to save the galaxy herself from those stupid boys. And black works so much better than pink in hiding from bad guys while waiting to go ninja all over them.
But then girls become preteens and then teens and peer pressure tears its ugly head, all backed and egged on by advertisers and producers. And now, the stakes are much higher. And the losses greater. If you let it be.
As a self-confessed need, I never fit in and never cared much about fashion or advertising. And, at least for most of the 90s, I had pressure to go into math and science especially if I wanted to be considered successful. And I bought into the need to be successful. I was in Math Counts in junior high even though Math is not my strong suit. And I was in honors math and science classes all four years of high school because I was expected to be and because interest in non-science meant you were stupid and probably shouldn’t go to college. I was a C student in math in high school and largely averaged a B in science. But I was neither a mathematician nor a scientist.
In college, I flunked (well, I dropped the class before I flunked) physics. I got a B in my only math class I was required to take. For awhile I was going to minor in math, but after two days into the spring semester of my freshman year I dropped that math class and never took a math or science class again.
It took me a year to figure out I wanted to be an anthropologist. Even then I still felt I was a failure even though anthropology is not an easy field. I had planned on becoming an electrical engineer like my dad and B’Elanna Torres on Star Trek: Voyager. And then maybe be an astronaut. Yeah, that didn’t happen after I realized in my college physics class I was just too stupid for math and science.
So anthropology it was. Don’t ask me what I was supposed to do with it but it was easier than trying to force myself to excel in a field I sucked at. Then graduation was upon me (which almost didn’t happen because I wasn’t told I had to register for graduation until my German professor made an off hand comment to me) and I had no clue what I was supposed to do.
I had no job prospects, no place to live, no real friends. I had spent 22 years of my life doing what other people wanted me to do. It was easier to make people happy than to think for myself. Having dreams was stupid because they never panned out and I wasn’t meant to have dreams.
This has turned into more than I intended. I wanted to write about consumer materialism and how that is affecting kids plus our definition and view of sex and gender. But mostly about how stuff gets in the way, how it becomes everything. And how pressure and unrealistic expectations hurt rather than help.
I spent a lot of years being a disappointment. Still am to many, even myself. I hadn’t intended to turn this into a rant and painful, bitter sharing. I just wanted to point out how materialism and consumerism is affecting and influencing people today.
I’ve never really towed the advertising line but I have towed other peoples’ expectations and demands line. I’ve lived a lot of my life trying to make people happy and failing miserably. I know making myself happy and allowing myself to be happy and to have dreams is a big no-no. Definitely not allowed.
So I probably should shut up now. You probably really don’t want to read my pathetic, bitter, angry, pitiful words.