Woodchick, I get it. I happen to have a family around me (on both sides) which have the exact same values as I do and none of us has cable TV, loads of plastic toys or anything like that. That makes a huge difference.
I'm not "anti-characters" just because I don't like the princess thing, the TV thing, the "my DD emulating TV personalities" thing or the "worshiping Hanna Montana or other stars" thing...I don't like the "turning kids into consumers" thing, either. HK is one of the most recognizable brands in the world. Everybody knows HK. You don't just get a HK shirt, you get a shirt, love it and then see the backpack...gloves, hate, doll, and on and on. The point of HK is to sell you stuff and more stuff and then, when you grow out of that stuff, MORE stuff. It's not about having a precious thing that you cherish...it's about, buy this and then look forward to buying the next piece in the line....DON'T YOU JUST WANNA HAVE IT ALLLLL! I never did this as a kid, but so many of the girls I knew did. It wasn't one Barbie...it was seveteen Barbies, a Special addition Holiday Barbie every year, the corvette, the jeep, the Dream House....they had to keep collecting and collecting on and on and on. Something new was always coming out to add to your set and you had to have it. AAGHHH!
Because of my intense disdain for the rampant disease of consumerism which has come to be the norm in the last generations, I do not buy clothing new. I shop at consignment boutiques. We have REALLY great ones in my area and I spend a FRACTION of what a lot of people I know spend on clothes and the best part of all, is that the shops we go to happen to be run by extremely crunchy type ladies and so there are NO faces, princess themed stuff or clothing of poor quality. Everything is in like-new condition and everything is Disney, TV character, etc FREE. So, my DD can look with me without my being paranoid about her falling in love with something I'm going to hate. I WANT her to pick her own clothing, I WANT her to be interested in colors, to pick patterns she likes and to get used to finding things that make her feel good. It's just much nicer to do that and let her have free choice in a place where I won't be forced into buying something I morally against. One boutique in particular is really my favorite...because half of the boutique is new stuff...but ALL ethically manufactured with "green" materials, organic cotton, fair trade, etc. So if I need to shop for a baby shower, or if I want to buy something new...I can do it and still feel good about it.
Where is Hello Kitty made?
WHO makes it?
WHAT is it made out of?
These are all the kinds of questions you have to ask yourself and if you dig for the answers, you'll puke in your lap. I get that HK is an iconic image, everyone knows what it is and I guess it's cute....but what's not cute (to me) is putting her on absolutely EVERYTHING for the sole purpose of getting people hooked and buying more and more....and having the profitability of this business model dependent upon cheap (nearly slave) labor.
Sorry for the ramble. I get it. I wouldn't have a problem telling MIL to knock it off. I don't want my kid to be a walking billboard, selling this high-consumerism to other kids by shoving the image in their face all the time. I don't want to send my money to some slave labor loving company in China or wherever...I want to support local business people who are reselling things that used to be sitting in boxes in peoples attics.
I don't want the blood, sweat and tears of the workers who live in squalor to make HK "gear" profitable for the mega corporations all over my childrens bodies. It makes me sick to imagine it.
P.S.: I'm looking and looking for a link to the article or paper that came out a few years ago talking about how the children (as young as 12-14!) who make Hello Kitty(winnie the pooh, too) and other brands *actually* live. There was an expose of sorts after one of these factories (ToyCity in China?) was investigated. These kids were found to be working 30 days a month for 12-16 hours a day. They work in the same room they sleep in. They work until they can't anymore, then they pass out on their bunk, then they wake up and work again. The conditions were absolutely terrible. The fumes and solvents, etc that these kids were living in (breathing ALL day, EVERYDAY and had all over their bodies) were making them so sick. They were desperate for the wages, so a lot of them lied about how old they were to get in and work there....the wages were so low, so so low. These kids were found to be working for nearly nothing in conditions so bad that I couldn't finish reading the article. I just stopped, closed out of it and said a silent prayer. I can't find the link right now, but I will keep looking because I think it's important for people to understand where this crap comes from. I think it's important to realize that when you send your money to whatever company sells this HK stuff, you are sending your money to people who enslave other people...men women and children alike. You are paying, to enslave children. That's what you're doing. By keeping this wheel of consumerism turning, we are keeping (in some cases, the better part of whole nations of) people enslaved. This has to stop.
You buy that shirt new and it's all clean and perfect....but never, ever forget, the little hands that touched it before you put it on your child. Some other kid, living in a room with mattresses from floor to ceiling, surrounded by other kids who should be playing and eating good foods, was holding that piece of fabric, making it into a Hello Kitty shirt. His little fingers turned it around and around, his little breath probably got on it...his little boy energy went into making that, not into playing with ships in the river or flying a kite. Then, it traveled across an ocean to a store near you...where you bought it...and then took it home and put it on your child. That other kids hands are touching your baby's little body. It's gross. It's gross to put something like that on our kids. It's gross to put the energy of that inequality and despair all over our kids. We should stop.