Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Little Princesses and Disillusioned Moms

I've been writing about the need to bridge the "gap between expectation and reality" for a few years now. For me the reality of motherhood was a challenge, but the most difficult thing was actually saying goodbye to my fantasies of what being a Mom would be like. A sleeping baby, an easily balanced life?--oops, it turned out that life wasn't that simple. For a while I beat myself up, wondering where I got my unrealistic ideas. Then I realized they were being marketed to me from every angle. The love, marriage, baby carriage fantasies start young. I'd pin Cinderella as my earliest culprit. We are taught to think that we'll go from servant girl to princess when the opposite process is closer to reality!

There's a good piece on Alternet today that focuses on the marketing angle. In The Big Corporate Motherhood Conspiracy, Janina Stajic says:

"And now, in a bid to repeat this success, a new industry has been born: the motherhood industry. Set up solely to sell women a new myth, the myth of the problem- and pain-free motherhood, it focuses only on the very best experiences that motherhood offers: the wonder of being pregnant, the experience of nursing a child, of watching them sleeping in their crib, of reading them classics such as Goodnight Moon and of course, of taking glorious walks with your partner and your perfect little bundle of joy tucked inside that SUV-sized stroller....Indeed, the relentless, challenging, overwhelming, sometimes downright depressing parts of motherhood are entirely disregarded."

Ack, as I was writing this, The Right Start sent me a marketing email touting their new Think Pink Shop, selling pink strollers, care seats, and training potties! 70 pink products, "gifts to pamper your littlest princess."

Make it stop!!!!! I started writing about one kind of conspiracy and it's morphed into another. Okay, take a deep breath. Time to reread the 1972 story X: A Fabulous Child's Story, by Lois Gould, about a child who is raised without anyone knowing its gender.

I wrote Mojo Mom to provide a realistic and hopeful alternative to the marketing machine/fairy tale myths of motherhood. Understanding and accepting the realities of our current lives is a good place to start. My favorite book that explores this topic in a thorough and accessible way is When You're Falling, Dive: Accepance, Freedom and Possibility by Zen teacher Cheri Huber. This is a reassuring, blessedly simple and wise book--an oasis in our complicated and sometimes insane world.

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3 Comments:

Blogger Becky said...

Your Think Pink Shop link doesn't work. Can you repost?

I think the Alternet article is a bunch of nothing. It doesn't give women enough credit for critical thinking and just assumes we're capable of being brainwashed by the latest marketing fad. Not true, I say. Not true.

2:46 PM  
Blogger Becky said...

I found the link:

http://www.rightstart.com/marketing/default~value~offer%20%2310.html

3:02 PM  
Blogger MojoMom said...

Thanks, and I fixed the link in the main blog post.

What bothers me most about the Think Pink shop is the way it gets us thinking about girls and boys differently from day one. I am not immune to this. If I go into Pottery Barn Kids I hardly notice the boys' side of the store. But maybe my daugher would prefer remote-controlled dinosaurs instead of a tea set.

The Think Pink welcome sign says: "Gifts to Pamper Your Little Princess... Think Pink!
You will find all things for the littlest sweethearts in your life....."

Pampered little sweetheart princess sweetheart. Is this really a respectful or realistic way to bring up our daughters? How does thinking about girls this way change the way we parent them? How about the opposite stereotyping of boys as tough and unfeeling?

3:34 PM  

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