Talk me into (or out of) Hello Kitty - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 88 Old 02-16-2011, 02:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We're not really big on "characters" at our house.  We've got a Dinosaur Train game and a Curious George stuffed monkey, but we don't wear clothes with characters or have backpacks or bags or other items of the sort.  Mostly we just don't like the way that stuff looks, but it also tends to be of poor quality and it can breed a sense of materialism.

 

My MIL knows that we don't like this stuff, that we don't dress our kids that way and that in general we would prefer her to stick to non-commercialized sorts of gifts.  Most of the time she is good about it.  She doesn't understand, but she hasn't been too bad since the "light up Tinkerbell t-shirt" incident of 2008.  Really, my inlaws are GREAT and supportive and all that. They adore their granddaughters, etc..

 

This Christmas, however, DD1 received from MIL and FIL, a Hello Kitty hat and glove set, a HK purse and wallet and a package of HK panties. Her Valentine's day card contained two sheets of HK stickers.  My SIL had a Hello Kitty themed 1st birthday party for my niece (overseas, so I'm sure MIL sent supplies before Christmas) and I have a feeling that she just picked up 'extra' for my DD while she was shopping for DN.

 

Yesterday DD1 declared that she was a "huge fan" of Hello Kitty and that she wanted to wear all her HK stuff to show her friends.

 

I understand that that is the way of the 4 year old.  We haven't had a princess phase and DD1 has been pretty sheltered from advertising and merchandising, so it hit me hard that she is so attached to this character.  I'm pretty sure, though, that with a little time and separation from the stuff she will move past it.

 

I'm concerned, however, that MIL will continue to send this stuff along to her.  A steady stream of HK is sure to fan the fires of Kitty love, you know?

 

I'm curious to hear your opinions of Hello Kitty.  Is it worth getting into it again with my In-laws? (DH would do the talking and it would all be fine. We're all very civil and respectful, though MIL does think I'm a bit crazy)   Is HK really just a harmless little kitten?

 

In the grand scheme of things this is really not a huge deal.  I am all for family unity and know that 4yos can be like this.... I just die a little every time she dresses herself in these great non-character outfits (usually mismatched!) and then tops it off with a dollar store hat and gloves with huge HKs on them.   I guess that I might be okay with this if it was something that DD1 had chosen for herself or was particularly interested in, but I feel like it is being put upon her by MIL and it rubs me the wrong way.

 

Thanks for your insight!

 


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#2 of 88 Old 02-16-2011, 03:18 PM
 
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We have nothing against Hello Kitty in this house. I think the best part of Hello Kitty, is that she didn't originate as a cartoon character. She started out a brand mark for Sanrio.


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#3 of 88 Old 02-16-2011, 05:43 PM
 
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I don't have anything insightful to say - Just that I love Hello Kitty, and have since I was about your daughter's age.

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#4 of 88 Old 02-16-2011, 06:08 PM
 
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Woodchick, I feel your pain in so many ways... and agree with you on so many things! Except I wouldn't necessarily characterize my MIL as "civil". The woman flat out has issues, sadly. But she definitely thinks I'm crazy. I mean, I don't even let dd wear make up or buy her high heels! It's like she's not even a girl! Haha. Really, on both sides of our family, I've fought the fight you're fighting against the whole world of characters all along. I mean, my MIL just sent Valentine's Day cards, one all Tinkerbell and her fairy friends (seriously? I mean, didn't anyone else think Tinkerbell was, to phrase it rather gently, a vindictive little pain in the booty in Peter Pan? Maybe I'm just too harsh! lol.gif) and the one she sent DS was Tron. Tron??!! For an eight year old? Ooookay...  I didn't see it, I'm not opposed to it, but I just didn't think it was really marketed for children, so, why a child's card?

 

Whatever... but the truth is they get SO little of that in their lives. We don't watch many of the popular cartoons and the ones that get by me are more weekly to monthly occurrences vs daily. I don't buy them any character inspired toys or clothes. So when a family member gets brave and sends a Polly Pocket or Hot Wheels, I try to let it slide. Everyone in the family knows where my real battle lines are drawn - issues like modesty both for the kids AND their toys, no point sending any video games, we don't own the consoles, and NO, you cannot buy them the consoles, thank you, among other a few other ideals I try to stick with in our world. They tend to at least respect my bottom line, so I try to work with them in that way. All that having been said....

 

I stillheart.gif Hello Kitty. Have since I was about eight! And turns out she came out about the same year I was born, so geez, it's almost like we're sisters, right??!! JK... but the irony there is that while I love HK, I think my dd just plays along with her to make me happy. Which is so silly - I really try to encourage her to just say no to HK (or what have you) if she's not into her. I certainly would prefer to respect her choices vs watch her try to placate my own inner child, though it's awfully sweet of her to try. At first, dd was all about her.. but then I may have taken that joke a little too far, and now I think I've driven her away from HK.. sigh. *Maybe* your MIL will do the same if allowed to run her course with this?

 

And then again, if you give your MIL an inch with HK... what might she try to take a mile with later? LOL... :)


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#5 of 88 Old 02-16-2011, 06:35 PM
 
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I try to hold off on characters as long as I can with my kids, but there are places that I am flexible. For example, my 2 year old LOVES football and he recently found a shirt with Blue from Blue's Clues on it kicking a football through the uprights at a consignment shop. He adores it. He's also never seen Blue's Clues in his little life. He just thinks it is the greatest shirt ever because it has not only a puppy on it, but football too! I don't mind this...is Blue's Clues even still on?

 

I guess I also wouldn't really consider Hello Kitty a character in the same way because HK doesn't have a show or movie (at least not that I know of?) I understand not wanting to totally give in at the risk of MIL buying out the disney store though.

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#6 of 88 Old 02-16-2011, 06:50 PM
 
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I guess I also wouldn't really consider Hello Kitty a character in the same way because HK doesn't have a show or movie (at least not that I know of?) I understand not wanting to totally give in at the risk of MIL buying out the disney store though.


Actually she has both, and video games too. They just weren't made until after Hello Kitty became a well known mascot for Sanrio.


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#7 of 88 Old 02-16-2011, 06:54 PM
 
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I don't really understand why grandparents of these times are so attached to bombarding kids with character items myself.  (feels like it anyway. . . we get a lot of complaining too)

 

 

In our effort to keep character stuff to a minimum, I do allow hello kitty without restriction.  From my perspective - hello kitty isn't about movies/tv shows which makes a big difference (I know there now are hello kitty movies and tv stuff but they're pretty lame and I would never get/watch them - they also aren't a big part of where you find hello kitty out there anyway, it's mostly stickers, clothes, stationary stuff).  She's mainly meant as a cat picture, no different than another neutral cat picture/drawing that isn't a tv/movie character.

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#8 of 88 Old 02-16-2011, 07:00 PM
 
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Actually she has both, and video games too. They just weren't made until after Hello Kitty became a well known mascot for Sanrio.


 

Whoops! I stand corrected smile.gif

 

Ok, so my super fast research says that it no longer airs in the US, so I guess I would still feel the same as I do with our Blue's Clues shirt.
 

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#9 of 88 Old 02-16-2011, 07:08 PM
 
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We love Hello Kitty!  Have since 1976!

 

I don't do the princess media-hype, but I buy all sorts of HK stuff.  Including the games.


Yes, yes.  I'm fabulous. loveeyes.gif  Moving on...

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#10 of 88 Old 02-17-2011, 05:33 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you all!  I'm actually surprised at the feelings that this issue is bring up for me.  In the long run it is so not a huge deal, but right now it is hitting hard.
 

 

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Originally Posted by MusicianDad View Post

We have nothing against Hello Kitty in this house. I think the best part of Hello Kitty, is that she didn't originate as a cartoon character. She started out a brand mark for Sanrio.

 

 I'm having a hard time wrapping my mind around celebrating a character whose sole purpose is to sell stuff.  The company Sanrio only exists to sell stuff with Kitty on it, right?  I think I might feel better if DD had a shirt with WordGirl on it instead.  At least she likes the WordGirl show and there is a purpose behind the character. 

 

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Whatever... but the truth is they get SO little of that in their lives. We don't watch many of the popular cartoons and the ones that get by me are more weekly to monthly occurrences vs daily. I don't buy them any character inspired toys or clothes. So when a family member gets brave and sends a Polly Pocket or Hot Wheels, I try to let it slide. Everyone in the family knows where my real battle lines are drawn - issues like modesty both for the kids AND their toys, no point sending any video games, we don't own the consoles, and NO, you cannot buy them the consoles, thank you, among other a few other ideals I try to stick with in our world. They tend to at least respect my bottom line, so I try to work with them in that way. All that having been said....


I totally agree with you in regards to choosing your battles!  I really do value our family over this issue, I'm just trying to work things out in my own mind.  I actually would prefer something like Polly Pocket or Hot Wheels. I can see the value in playing with them and they exist for a 'reason' (to play with).  The Hello Kitty stuff that we have only has one purpose, to tell the world that we have purchased something from Sanrio.  All of the HK stuff we have could easily be replaced with non-branded items of equal or greater quality.

 

I don't deny that Hello Kitty is cute, but I'm struggling with the idea that 'cute' is a good reason to buy these items.  DD has already started noticing other HK stuff in stores and is trying to get me to buy it. Not because she needs the socks/hat/watch/sneakers, whatever, but solely because they have Hello Kitty on them.  We are striving to declutter and simplify our lives and to live frugally (4 people, 1 income, 850sqft home) and this mindset is totally against that.

 

And not to go off on a tangent, but I hear so much about "how awful it is that kids are being advertised to so much these days" and "let's let kids be kids" and "kids these days don't have any idea how to wisely manage their money", but at the same time people in my children's lives are constantly playing into the hype. They want to take them to big movies and buy them branded merchandise and set them up for character addiction by playing up how cute it is. 

 

I do really appreciate hearing from you all who don't have a problem with HK! I really don't think she's evil or anything, really!  I'd actually like to hear more about why you love her, I think I am missing the gene that allow me to 'get it' :)




 


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#11 of 88 Old 02-17-2011, 06:28 AM
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"Cute" is not a good reason to buy a shirt or pencil box if you are not in need of a shirt or pencil box. But if you ARE in need of a shirt, most people would pick one that is visually attractive to them. I think you need to decide whether you are against Hello Kitty, against clutter, or both.

 

I will be honest and say that I do not share the extreme anti-character sentiments of many here on MDC, but neither did we buy excessive character things when my boys were little. DS2 was into Spiderman for a couple of years, and that's the extent of it. My kids are now 19 and 15 and do not wear Spiderman shirts. DS2 does have a Domo wallet and a Domo t-shirt, but overall does not have a Domo fixation. He just likes comic books, Anime and Manga, and Japanese pop-culture, and Domo sort of symbolizes that for him.

 

As for being materialistic or object-obsessed, I do know a couple of "natural-minded" mamas who have to have a new phone as soon as a new model comes out, and can't go five minutes without fiddling with it. Guess what item their LOs obsess over? Mama's cell phone. I think that if things are viewed with moderation, whether it be a cell phone or a Hello Kitty shirt, then kids will generally follow suit. That's been my experience, anyway. Telling a child they can't have something for reasons that are not understandable/important to the child only makes the child desire it even more.
 

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I don't deny that Hello Kitty is cute, but I'm struggling with the idea that 'cute' is a good reason to buy these items.  DD has already started noticing other HK stuff in stores and is trying to get me to buy it. Not because she needs the socks/hat/watch/sneakers, whatever, but solely because they have Hello Kitty on them.  We are striving to declutter and simplify our lives and to live frugally (4 people, 1 income, 850sqft home) and this mindset is totally against that.

 

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#12 of 88 Old 02-17-2011, 06:35 AM
 
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Having just read Peggy Orenstein's Cinderella Ate my Daughter and having a 5 year old daughter myself, frankly I have no issues with Hello Kitty compared to say the Disney Princesses. Hello Kitty came out when I was a kid and I remember having a HK phase and it was just that. Unlike my feelings about the princess stuff which IMO feels like it does constantly promote consumption and grows in time. If you read her book what I am saying will probably make sense. Ultimately every item on some level is about consumption, I mean at Christmas time we catalogs from places like Magic Cabin, Nova Naturals, etc and at the end of the day they want us to buy as well. I have seen this in my own house, we started out with the small wooden kitchen and then it grew from there, no its not branded but still there are items that go with it.

 

Now that my daughter is in school (I also have a 19 yo son, so I have dealt with the issue of characters for a long time) I say pick and choose your battles. I know that since my girl started school her knowledge about things has increased, I am constantly explaining why she can't have XYZ, or watch this show or that. Its all about picking and choosing. Right now I would be thrilled if my kid was just into HK.


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#13 of 88 Old 02-17-2011, 06:49 AM
 
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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.


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#14 of 88 Old 02-17-2011, 06:50 AM - Thread Starter
 
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"Cute" is not a good reason to buy a shirt or pencil box if you are not in need of a shirt or pencil box. But if you ARE in need of a shirt, most people would pick one that is visually attractive to them. I think you need to decide whether you are against Hello Kitty, against clutter, or both.

 

I will be honest and say that I do not share the extreme anti-character sentiments of many here on MDC, but neither did we buy excessive character things when my boys were little. DS2 was into Spiderman for a couple of years, and that's the extent of it. My kids are now 19 and 15 and do not wear Spiderman shirts. DS2 does have a Domo wallet and a Domo t-shirt, but overall does not have a Domo fixation. He just likes comic books, Anime and Manga, and Japanese pop-culture, and Domo sort of symbolizes that for him.

 

As for being materialistic or object-obsessed, I do know a couple of "natural-minded" mamas who have to have a new phone as soon as a new model comes out, and can't go five minutes without fiddling with it. Guess what item their LOs obsess over? Mama's cell phone. I think that if things are viewed with moderation, whether it be a cell phone or a Hello Kitty shirt, then kids will generally follow suit. That's been my experience, anyway. Telling a child they can't have something for reasons that are not understandable/important to the child only makes the child desire it even more.
 


I totally agree with you!  And that's why the HK stuff is still in our house and we thanked Grandma for it :)  I've turned down buying things at the store for the same reasons we always do, not because she 'can't have HK'.  I haven't said boo to her about it. I personally don't like or dislike HK, but I'm mostly against consumerism for consumerism's sake.

 

I mean, the kid is 4! It is not like she has a deep love of HK and wants to show it to the world.  She's had it foisted on her. I do think that if left on its own that it will blow over.  In my OP I mentioned that I'm worried that Grandma will keep fanning the flames by sending more.

 

To add to the issue, I think I'm also dealing with struggles from my own life regarding gift giving.  I have a long (and sad) history of receiving gifts that were given with no thought of the recipient or were grossly unfair (one year I got a science fiction book from the uncle who took my brother skiing for the weekend.  I also ski, and didn't read scifi).  So I know that this is playing into it.  MIL knows our preferences and she knows what DD truly likes, so why go crazy with something like this?

 

 


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#15 of 88 Old 02-17-2011, 06:58 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Having just read Peggy Orenstein's Cinderella Ate my Daughter and having a 5 year old daughter myself, frankly I have no issues with Hello Kitty compared to say the Disney Princesses. Hello Kitty came out when I was a kid and I remember having a HK phase and it was just that. Unlike my feelings about the princess stuff which IMO feels like it does constantly promote consumption and grows in time. If you read her book what I am saying will probably make sense. Ultimately every item on some level is about consumption, I mean at Christmas time we catalogs from places like Magic Cabin, Nova Naturals, etc and at the end of the day they want us to buy as well. I have seen this in my own house, we started out with the small wooden kitchen and then it grew from there, no its not branded but still there are items that go with it.

 

Now that my daughter is in school (I also have a 19 yo son, so I have dealt with the issue of characters for a long time) I say pick and choose your battles. I know that since my girl started school her knowledge about things has increased, I am constantly explaining why she can't have XYZ, or watch this show or that. Its all about picking and choosing. Right now I would be thrilled if my kid was just into HK.

 

But, again, sure those toy companies want you to buy their things, but they are actually selling 'usable' goods.  There's always a new 'set' or something, but the kitchen (wooden or otherwise) is a valuable learning tool. The add ons make for more interesting play.  Wanting/needing to get a new Hello Kitty pencil set because it matches your Hello Kitty stretchy gloves just seems so much different to me.


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#16 of 88 Old 02-17-2011, 06:59 AM - Thread Starter
 
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#17 of 88 Old 02-17-2011, 07:49 AM
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I love Hello Kitty.

 

 

BUT I'm like you... not into the cartoon clothes... in fact, I would venture to say that I despise them and wouldn't be caught dead with my kids in them!

 

But a scarf and gloves... stickers... all removable and small. It's ok!! Breathe :)

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#18 of 88 Old 02-17-2011, 07:59 AM
 
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I totally agree with you in regards to choosing your battles!  I really do value our family over this issue, I'm just trying to work things out in my own mind.  I actually would prefer something like Polly Pocket or Hot Wheels. I can see the value in playing with them and they exist for a 'reason' (to play with).  The Hello Kitty stuff that we have only has one purpose, to tell the world that we have purchased something from Sanrio.  All of the HK stuff we have could easily be replaced with non-branded items of equal or greater quality.

 

I don't deny that Hello Kitty is cute, but I'm struggling with the idea that 'cute' is a good reason to buy these items.  DD has already started noticing other HK stuff in stores and is trying to get me to buy it. Not because she needs the socks/hat/watch/sneakers, whatever, but solely because they have Hello Kitty on them.  We are striving to declutter and simplify our lives and to live frugally (4 people, 1 income, 850sqft home) and this mindset is totally against that.

 

And not to go off on a tangent, but I hear so much about "how awful it is that kids are being advertised to so much these days" and "let's let kids be kids" and "kids these days don't have any idea how to wisely manage their money", but at the same time people in my children's lives are constantly playing into the hype. They want to take them to big movies and buy them branded merchandise and set them up for character addiction by playing up how cute it is. 

 

I do really appreciate hearing from you all who don't have a problem with HK! I really don't think she's evil or anything, really!  I'd actually like to hear more about why you love her, I think I am missing the gene that allow me to 'get it' :)




 

 

You know, you make an excellent point with the idea that HK isn't necessarily having a purpose beyond being cute for *so many* of her products,and I agree completely with making the kids think about why they're wanting to buy something, where it will go in their room, what purchasing this item vs that item will mean for their allowances or the families finances. All things I wish I'd thought about more when mine were younger! :) The first thing I got for dd that was HK was a little playhouse (like smaller than a shoe box) with her family members and some furniture, so it actually engaged dd in imaginative play and was small and easy to take with us for some trips where she would need a source of entertainment - so HK does have some things, somewhere, that are more play oriented rather than clutter inspiring. I had some really cute stationery & markers too when I was a kid... :D

 

Only to say that IF you decide to allow HK - or whomever - maybe letting your MIL know that if she just has to get some kind of character thing, you'd prefer it was something your dd could use, rather than something turned dd into a billboard? Though I guess those can overlap too.

 

Never got the idea that you thought HK was evil though! LOL.. Idk... I have no idea why I've liked her so much for so long. The books and videos she has are just asinine for most part...  It was a birthday gift when I was about 8 that got me into her, the stationery I mentioned. But then I got older and found I love nearly all things related to Japanese stationery, so perhaps it was the style that appealed to me and I just assumed it was HK for all those years since no one was making me think about why I wanted to spend my money! :)
 


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#19 of 88 Old 02-17-2011, 08:06 AM
 
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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.


Wow. Please do post that if you find it! I appreciate you all making me think more about this. I'll drop her cute fake fuzziness like a hot rock!

 

And we should think more this stuff - I should be explaining things like that to my children, helping them learn more responsible consumerism. Better start doing some digging on my own.


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#20 of 88 Old 02-17-2011, 08:17 AM
 
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I will be honest and say that I do not share the extreme anti-character sentiments of many here on MDC, but neither did we buy excessive character things when my boys were little.

....

Telling a child they can't have something for reasons that are not understandable/important to the child only makes the child desire it even more.
 


 

We have so much in common!  I didn't buy my kids character stuff when they were little, and we managed to keep some those things secret from our kids for a long time. However, once they were school aged, it went out the window. And we were homeschoolers!  They got interested in things because other kids were interested in things, and I didn't see the point of the power struggle.

 

It's very reasonable to tell a child "no, you aren't getting a new hat today because you don't need one." It's quite another to be buying a child a hat and refuse to buy they one they like because it has a design on it they like but stands for something else *to you.*  I think that's just a power thing.

 

My kids are now 12 and 14, and they don't care about stickers at all anymore, no matter what is on them.

 

As far as it coming from grandma rather than peers, I can see why it bothers you, but she would have found out about hello kitty eventually, and she still would have liked her.  Hello Kitty is very likable!

 

<<I just die a little every time she dresses herself in these great non-character outfits (usually mismatched!) and then tops it off with a dollar store hat and gloves with huge HKs on them.  >>

 

I think that's about you, not her. She's happy and having fun, and she feels very loved. It may be that part of the reason she likes the stuff so much is it is from Grandma, and Grandma/Grandchild relationship is a special thing. She's a blessed little child to have so many people in her life that love her and want to make her happy.

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#21 of 88 Old 02-17-2011, 08:37 AM
 
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Funny, my mom shipped a whole box of HK to DD for Christmas. Makes me wonder, is there a movie out or something? Why so hot all of a sudden?

 

I despise characters. I really do. I fervently wish they would just leave our family forever. However, my mother insists on all things characters, and I have my choice between making a big fuss (and losing anyway) or just silently hating it. Don't get me wrong, I still blame corporations and my mother - I should be able to say no to something and have it respected. If there's a relationship issue, it's because my MOTHER is creating one. So that's not the reason I'm biting my tongue. The reason is that, being between a rock and a hard place that I am, I think it would be worse for DD if I made such a big deal out of it. I think it IS a big deal (and the child labor described upthread is absolutely a huge part, the majority of it) but I don't know what else to frikken do. My mother will buy whatever she wants, and the thing will be bought; whether it ends up in Goodwill or on a Freecycle post or in the trash, it's done. And I don't want DD to grow up wanting the characters that were dangled before her but her mother denied her. I instead hope my values will quietly prevail - eventually.

 

Can you tell I'm really mad about this? We're in a serious lose-lose position, thanks to grandmothers and corporations. My choices are: be the one who is blamed for destroying a relationship because my mother values HK more than her daughter and granddaughter (but of course it would actually be seen as me destroying the relationship over it), don't make a fuss with my mom but simply dispose of everything and then make my daughter feel deprived (which she would not have if my mother hadn't insisted on creating this problem in the first place), or just suck it up. Great choices.

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#22 of 88 Old 02-17-2011, 12:57 PM
 
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Originally Posted by woodchick View Post

 

 I'm having a hard time wrapping my mind around celebrating a character whose sole purpose is to sell stuff.  The company Sanrio only exists to sell stuff with Kitty on it, right?  I think I might feel better if DD had a shirt with WordGirl on it instead.  At least she likes the WordGirl show and there is a purpose behind the character. 


 



Actually no... Sanrio existed at least ten years before Kitty was even thought up. Yes she helps sell stuff, but this is a character that was created by and for Sanrio specifically (not the other way around), which makes it no different from any other line that puts any kind of image or words on their stuff. We aren't talking about a Disney shirt, or Thomas the Tank Engine shoes or even a stuffed Curious George. Those characters only appear on clothing because someone wanted to take an already well known image and make money off it without actually doing any work.


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#23 of 88 Old 02-17-2011, 01:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Actually no... Sanrio existed at least ten years before Kitty was even thought up. Yes she helps sell stuff, but this is a character that was created by and for Sanrio specifically (not the other way around), which makes it no different from any other line that puts any kind of image or words on their stuff. We aren't talking about a Disney shirt, or Thomas the Tank Engine shoes or even a stuffed Curious George. Those characters only appear on clothing because someone wanted to take an already well known image and make money off it without actually doing any work.


Okay. I really don't know much about Sanrio.  But just because they're selling a picture of a cat (who is now a celebrity of her own, even retroactively) and not a 'show character' doesn't change my view on it. I don't buy "Johnny cupcake" shirts for myself, either. Just my personal quirks, I guess.  If I'm going to show my support for a cupcake company, I want it to be one that actually sells cupcakes! :)


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#24 of 88 Old 02-17-2011, 01:52 PM
 
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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.

 

The issue about child labor is a serious one and is not, sadly, limited to children's toys and character shirts. Apple Computers, in its own audit, found that child labor was being used by its suppliers of various components. And it goes beyond China, though the volume of exports from China puts it in the spotlight, naturally. While not child labor, we have had sweatshops recently discovered in the US (or US territories) so it is not as simple as deciding to "Buy American" or banning certain characters. Given the very complex supplier systems in most industries, it is nearly impossible to trace back the origin of parts and components for anything that you buy. Your plain white organic cotton shirt may have been made from cotton grown in Egypt or Pakistan, with the yarn  and/or fabric made in a third country before your shirt was sewn "in America". There are too many points in the supplier process that could have relied on child labor, human trafficking or other labor abuses. The reality is that we just do not know the origin of most of the goods that we buy that involve more than one step in the manufacturing process. It is, indeed, gross and we should stop, but taking action requires far more information and research on individual products that we consume daily. It would be nice if this information was readily available to all of us so that we could be more confident about our own buying practices.  

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#25 of 88 Old 02-17-2011, 02:01 PM
 
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I guess my character threshold is inversely related to how popular the character is. The more popular, the more I tend to shy away. We don't do Dora or Spongebob or Spiderman or whatever, but DS has a stuffed Classic pooh & a hand-me-down t-shirt with Mickey on it, and one small Thomas train. I don't mind if they occasionally (VERY occasionally, and I'd prefer they altogether didn't!) make their way into our home, because DS has no concept that they are anything beyond what they are. Pooh is just a stuffed bear, Thomas is just a nameless blue train, and the shirt just happens to have a mouse on it. He doesn't know that there are books and TV shows and movies about them, and he certainly doesn't know you can go into any store and find 50 items with those characters on it. He's only 2 though. I don't think I'd be comfortable with a whole arsenal of Hello Kitty items, though I wouldn't care about a single sheet of stickers or something. I have returned/donated items with certain characters on them and will likely continue to do so -- I just feel like these are such vulnerable, impressionable years and I don't feel like the characters fit into our family values. So we limit exposure, even if it means returning well-meaning gifts... It's hard to say what I'll do in a couple years though, because DS is still at the age where he doesn't know the difference if we discretely make a gift disappear.

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#26 of 88 Old 02-17-2011, 06:43 PM
 
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Okay. I really don't know much about Sanrio.  But just because they're selling a picture of a cat (who is now a celebrity of her own, even retroactively) and not a 'show character' doesn't change my view on it. I don't buy "Johnny cupcake" shirts for myself, either. Just my personal quirks, I guess.  If I'm going to show my support for a cupcake company, I want it to be one that actually sells cupcakes! :)

 

Do you avoid all clothing with any sort of animal or picture on it? Because that is really all Hello Kitty is. The fact that she has become popular world wide doesn't change the fact that she is really just a picture of a cat that Sanrio decided to put on stuff.


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#27 of 88 Old 02-17-2011, 06:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Do you avoid all clothing with any sort of animal or picture on it? Because that is really all Hello Kitty is. The fact that she has become popular world wide doesn't change the fact that she is really just a picture of a cat that Sanrio decided to put on stuff.



We do.  I don't own a single piece of clothing with anything on it.  Some stripes or flowers, but mostly just solids.  DH wears t-shirts, mostly from places we've been or Alumni shirts from our college.  The girls each have a couple t-shirt with snowmen or penguins on it...but they were gifts from Grandma.  Otherwise all of their wardrobe is polka dots and stripes and such.

 

I just don't find animal faces or ice skating bears that cute on kids clothes.  They have been easy for me to avoid, so I do.

 

And I totally agree with your last sentence, which is one of the reasons I'm not a big fan.


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#28 of 88 Old 02-17-2011, 07:08 PM
 
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Well I guess I fall in the "I don't have a prob with Hello Kitty" camp. I don't really have too much of an issue with "character" items in general. When DD was a baby I tried to avoid all character stuff because I thought I should (sort of just conforming to the "natural family code" or something)...In any case I  eventually found that avoiding character items was not a big priority for our family. Just not my line in the sand. But  I absolutely respect families who feel strongly about avoiding those items and would never gift a disney princess set, for example, to a family who was trying to avoid having stuff like that in their home.

 

DD does currently like Hello Kitty (she's 5) and has a few HK items (necklace, shirt). She has also in the past owned Dora pj's and blues clues pj's (both from thrift stores or garage sales) and she has a Minne Mouse shirt. I didn't notice an uptick in her consumerism when she got these items. I also didn't notice a decline in imaginative play and there was no clamoring to watch Dora all the time or anything. To DD they are just clothes that she likes.

 

I guess my line in the sand is shirts and stuff that say a brand name like "Gap" or "Abercrombie" across the front. Those are the ones that irk me. I don't know why I see them as somehow different than a tinkerbelle nightgown, but I do. I also don't like is the overly sexy stuff for little girls or the sarcastic slogan ones like "I'm with stupid" or mean things like that.

 

I think the other issue here is the ever popular grandparents gifting items the parents don't like issue. My FIL has truly eccentric and bizarre taste in gifts (that's a whole 'nother thread) and, although it's actually kind of an endearing quality, I've got no problem with immediately putting his gifts in the donate pile. But DD is old enough now to make her own decisions about those gifts I think and will let me know if she wants to return or donate something. SO if she really wants to keep the hot pink garbage can Grandpa sent her, fine. I've never thought of garbage cans as present material, but whatever...

:)

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#29 of 88 Old 02-17-2011, 07:13 PM
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Okay....please don't freak out and flame me for this because I'm asking in all seriousness....

 

With regards to foreign sweatshops and child labor....yes, that is all really horrible. But I've asked random people in my life the following question and nobody seems to know the answer....if we take away their three cents a day, what will they do for income? I'm assuming that people in those conditions would be even worse off without the three cents a day? I'm not talking about slave labor where people have no choice in what they do. I'm talking about people who voluntarily go to work for three cents a day.

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#30 of 88 Old 02-17-2011, 07:21 PM
 
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Okay....please don't freak out and flame me for this because I'm asking in all seriousness....

 

With regards to foreign sweatshops and child labor....yes, that is all really horrible. But I've asked random people in my life the following question and nobody seems to know the answer....if we take away their three cents a day, what will they do for income? I'm assuming that people in those conditions would be even worse off without the three cents a day? I'm not talking about slave labor where people have no choice in what they do. I'm talking about people who voluntarily go to work for three cents a day.



I'm a little scared to say so, but I agree with you!

 

My ex-husband is originally from China, most of his family still lives and works there (for very low amounts of money) - I have seen these things firsthand. If a sweatshop were to close down, it doesn't mean that these children/teens that work there will suddenly be able to go out and play and enjoy childhood and have full bellies. It just means that they will either have to beg, find another job at a factory, or find a different line of work. Of course, if the conditions at this particular factory were worse than others, maybe finding a different factory would be a good thing -- but it doesn't mean that if the factory closes down they will be able to go out and find a job that offers more reasonable pay.

 

 

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