So, I’m thumbing through my Dallas Morning News on Sunday. And yes, clearly I’m 140 years old. I still like a paper I can fold and on that doesn’t require electricity, I know. But I digress. Nonetheless, I’m enjoying my coffee and having my Lionel-Ritchie-Easy-Like-Sunday morning moment, and as I’m perusing the local metro section, I see an article entitled: “Unlocking Their Style: Area mothers spawn decorating craze across U.S. for tween lockers.”
Now, y’all know me. I am not judgmental. No, wait. I’m actually totally judgmental. So at the risk of irking my fellow “area mothers,” I feel drawn, no, compelled to comment on this “decorating craze.” Because evidently there’s a new reason for the terrorists to hate us, and it involves tween girls, narcissism, and money. All of which we seem to have in spades here in the lovely suburbs of Dallas.
Here’s what’s happening according to the Dallas Morning News: “The hallways of Prestonwood Christian Academy showcase one of the country’s latest reminders of tween marketing power and gendered self-expression.” Know what that means in over-privileged speak? Our schools are now the place for 10-year-old girls to learn how to spend osentatiously on largely disposable crap they don’t need that junks up our planet while simultaneously sets back females thirty years.
I mean, really, people: motion-sensitive chandeliers? Leopard print wallpaper? Fluffy shag carpets? For a 10-year-old’s locker? When I looked at the photos the paper provided, all I could think of was how an African village of sixty people could live on the money it took to decorate even one of those lockers. Wallpaper is 20 bucks. Chandeliers are 30 dollars. “Jeweled Flower Magnets” are a bargain at only eight dollars a pop.
The paper quotes one of these charming tots and perhaps future reality show star: “It [the locker decorations] is important because it shows who you really are.” Wow, yeah? That you can become a vapid consumer before you’re old enough to menstruate? She continues: “It’s totally fine if you don’t have one, but it would be really cute if you did.” Oh, I love it when the wealthy give me permission to have less than them and assure me they give me their blessing to do so. This will be the future pageant contestant who says, “I was friends with all the different groups in school.” Suuuure you were.
Yeah, it would be totally cute if you’re family didn’t need that 50 bucks spent on luxuries like, say, food and shelter. We’re seeing on the news that being able to buy things other people can’t might just instill a hierarchy and even a little anger from those of us who can’t afford to be so “cute,” though, aren’t we? My electric bill right now is so not cute.
Really? So we’re going to reinforce in our daughters that appearance is who you are? Not, say, the choices you make and how you behave? Where is your mother? Oh, yeah, probably out getting Botox and a weave. It’s the adults who are passing down this idea that stuff and looks are who you are.
I will take some heat from this opinion, y’all, but this locker decorating nonsense is not only ridiculous but possibly poisonous. Tweens, considered ages 8-12 by marketers, are credited for 43 BILLION in annual spending power? HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE WHEN THEY DON’T WORK? And we have a healthcare crisis in this nation?
So here’s my modest proposal: when your daughter asks for a light-up chandelier for her locker, take her on a tour of the county’s non-profit organizations. Don’t purchase plastic crap you don’t need that’s manufactured in other countries. Use less. Waste less. Less money, less food, less water. Instead of fifty dollars on locker carpeting and flower magnets, why don’t you anonymously pay for some of the groceries of that family behind you in line at Wal-Mart? You know, the family that has four kids and two of them have coats. And certainly no school locker chandeliers.
Talk to your daughter about girls who can’t afford to go to the doctor, much less wear Miss Me jeans and pay for private school. Let her see the Samaritan Inn, where a 50 dollar donation can feed a family without a home to call their own for a week. Most importantly, reflect: What values are you teaching your daughter? How much emphasis are you putting on her looks? Is it something external that makes women special?
I’m here to tell you: personal creativity, value, and worth doesn’t involve the acquisition of animal print wallpaper or locker chandeliers. My daughter will be missing out on a lot of what the Dallas suburbs seem to tell females they need to have in order to be. There will be no mani/pedis until she can pay for one. Birthday parties may just need to be cake and rousing game of Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Donkey at the house. There will be no MTV styled 16th birthday bash, and the first car will be handed down.
Because Collin county Texas has a very bad case of Affluenza, y’all. We’re breaking out in senseless consumerism, and we’re teaching our daughters to do the same. But you can be sure I’m going to do my damnedest to make sure no one around my house catches it.