June 6, 2007
First, there's the 04/22/07 New York Times article "Tweens R Shoppers" by Lesley Jane Seymour (appearing in its entirety here).
Then, there are the web responses - which are growing, but not in as great a number to constitute a vocal majority. That the backlash is anything less than in tsunami proportions reveals a lot, as well, doesn't it?
Here are three of those responses:
1. A letter to the NYT editor:
"Oh, please! I was so disgusted by the tone of ''Tweens 'R' Shoppers,'' by Lesley Jane Seymour (April 22), and put off by the photos of these spoiled, super-sophisticated sub-teens. If the majority of children in our country grow up with these values, we're in deep trouble...."
2. The Chicago Foundation for Women provides research to back its position, providing readers with a fact sheet on Materialism and Family Stress by CommercialExploitation.Com:
"What it didn’t say: The story is a commercial for various products that market to tweens. It presents the commercialization of children as an important new trend—going so far as to say shopping offers children a “safe” outlet in these troubling times. No experts are used to talk about research that shows a negative effect between materialism and the development of children. Numerous studies cited by the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood say the central premise of marketing—buying things will make us happy—is not true. Actually, research shows the pressure to spend and consume actually makes people less happy. Read a fact sheet on the issue..."
3. Mary Hunt, founder of Debt-Proof Living and nationally-known writer, blogs about her take on the article, cutting to the core:
"Our hopes and dreams for our children are no different today than they were the days they were born. We wanted to raise strong godly men who would be kind, self-sufficient, and generous. And it’s been an uphill battle given our culture that peddles just the opposite: entitlement, greed and self-centeredness....
"By the 19th paragraph I was getting uncomfortable. This can’t be for real. Surely she can’t be condoning such ugly attitudes of entitlement and self-centeredness.
"If Seymour’s goal was to get me to read her column right to the last word, she succeeded. And I arrived with a sick stomach. ..."
Mary Hunt says it well: it is a fight against "entitlement, greed and self-centeredness." I believe this is the same fight that anyone attempting simplification must face, regardless of age.
The same attitude that is discussed in "Tweens R Shoppers" exists in their parents. They just shop at different stores and look for different labels. That's why Lesley Jane Seymour didn't have a different ending to her article. She's proud of her girls' shopping day.
We are in a Culture War in this country, and anytime you choose to be thrify, or to buy organic, or to turn off the television and read a book to your kids, or (gasp!) change careers based upon your value system, you're fighting the good fight.
One of the purposes of this blog is to help you know that you are not alone. Heaven knows, simplifying isn't easy. It is, however, I believe worth all the effort.
Image: David and Goliath (remember, David won)