Monday, March 15, 2010

Disposable income and disposable diapers

One of the few organizations that I allow solicitations from is the Center for a Commercial Free Childhood. My parents did an excellent job of letting my brothers and I have childhoods of innocence and play. Aside from gigantic hordes of Star Wars toys (never as many as my cousin Eric, though) and about a bazillion Strawberry Shortcake figures, very few of our toys were licensed trademarks of anything. Of course, it was the late 70 and early 80s so there weren't as many out there and Legos were still old-school without story-lines and instructions, so that was a little easier. Still, at some point, my parents got rid of the TV for a few years and I was not allowed to have Barbie dolls until I was 10 so that I might have a modicum of a chance at a positive body image.

I also consider myself quite lucky that my adolescence was spent while grunge was the dominant style. Baggy jeans, big flannel shirts worn like cardigans and colored opaque tights under skirts and worn with Converse all-stars gave me all the protection my developing body needed from the degrading stares and comments of the adolescent boys I was surrounded by. I often look at teenagers (and younger) today and feel sad that their looks are so polished, with the visible and perfect cleavage with those flouncy little skirts. Did I even own an underwire bra before I was 20?

So, when an organization fights the constant erosion of childhood at the hands of market forces, I support them. They have asked me share a story with you about the aftermath they encountered from Disney after the Baby Einstein videos were exposed as frauds.
As described in the New York Times, last fall’s successful campaign to get Disney to offer refunds on Baby Einstein videos came at a price. At the height of the media flurry about the refunds, representatives from Disney contacted JBCC, and our relationship with the Center was changed irrevocably. We were pressured to stop talking to the press about Baby Einstein. Questions were raised about whether CCFC’s mission was appropriate for a JBCC program. Finally, in January, we were told that we had to leave—quickly. And, for our remaining time under JBCC’s auspices, we were forbidden from conducting any advocacy aimed at a specific corporation or product. You may have noticed that you haven’t heard from us in a while.

It is chilling that any corporation, particularly one marketing itself as family friendly, would lean on a children’s mental health center. We have great admiration for the Center’s staff, and the work they do for children. At the same time, we are deeply saddened that the institution ceded its ground and stopped supporting CCFC and our efforts to challenge powerful interests in order to protect children and support parents.
My brother and sister-in-law are expecting my first niece or nephew in a few weeks. I am trying to make sure that Baby Shashi has a chance to be a kid before she must become a consumer. If that jingles your bell too, check them out and make a donation if you're so inclined.

1 comment:

Amy said...

I've never heard of this organization. What a great idea.