01 February 2008

Junk Mail Musings

So in the junk mail this week, a catalog that was obviously directed to our house by mistake featured all these smiling little girls and their sisters, dressed in matching outfits. Cute, right? So why did it creep me out just a bit? Because the "sisters" were large dolls.

Now, I'm not unfamiliar with the phenomenon of girls dressing to match their dolls, though I thought it was limited to those expensive whatcha-call-em dolls for special occasions (American heritage dolls or something?). And I don't have anything against this per se. For instance, I know a two-girl family in which Grandma makes them and their dolls matching Christmas dresses, to the great delight of all. But this catalog just didn't seem right: an outfit for absolutely every occasion, from cheerleading to soccer to ordinary play clothes to special occasions. And the prices: Buy just a few of those outfits, and you might as well fund an actual little sister for the kid!

But maybe that's the point: parents are replacing the real siblings with dolls. If you can't have an actual sister to hang out with, at least you can have a pretend one. Now I know that for various reasons not every girl will have a sister, not even in CSPP families. So maybe it's not just a sister thing, but a community thing--girls are often not close to many of their female relatives; there's none of that good old-fashioned intergenerational female bonding taking place. I know I'd love to be raising my kids in more of a community, for my own sake as much as for theirs, as I try to figure out this mothering thing.

Maybe I'm just making too much of this. Maybe I'm just reacting because I was the sort of girl who climbed trees, splashed in mud puddles, and played with stuffed and real animals instead of dolls. If I gave a tea party, it was for my animals, some of whom did dress for the occasion. I did have a doll, bestowed upon me by a grandma who thought every girl really should have at least one, but to her chagrin it lay neglected and dusty under my bed. (Perhaps this is why God in His infinite wisdom has decided to begin my great motherhood experiment, I mean experience, with 3 male children.)

Well, anyhow. I hope that anyone reading this whose daughters like dressing to match their dolls understands that my reaction here is against the extreme: This catalog seemed clearly to be offering an alternative to having more kids, replacing them instead with these huge dolls with creepy eyes.

Maybe I just need more sleep :) (Pacifier Boot Camp for Boy2 has been a mixed experience)


Gauntlets said...

So far we don't have much interest in dressing to match anything, not even ourselves. You should have seen the outfit we sported yesterday.

When I was a little person my grandparents got me a big doll sort of like the one you describe. Sort of. It was large and I had a nightgown that matched its, but its hair was yarn and its face was pieced from scraps. My grandmother made it just for me.

Made it. Didn't buy it from a company that takes a child's picture and molds a doll to match; like that's what a kid needs--a little clone of itself. No, she made it and stitched its red smile by hand.

Those clone dolls? Oh, sure. Whatever. I think you're on to something with the replacement sibling idea. I was pretty lonely as the only girl-child of three kids, and I offered that old rag doll my sisterly affections. That childhood loneliness is part of why I'm open to a having a huge family; a rag doll can only do so much. But those clone dolls completely miss the mark. A $200 doll with $50 dresses and $30 shoes doesn't clean up very well after sharing mud pies.

Athritis Amazons said...

Reb. Mary, give your "middle child" some tylenol, get some sleep, and call me in the morning.

I think you might be reading into this a little too much. To the economist the dolls represent how Americans live beyond their means. To the politician they represent corporate corruption and class separation. To the CSPPer they represent synthetic sibling replacement therapy. All these people might be partially right to an extent in a case-by-case basis. But I think when it comes down to it, they are just creepy, oversized dolls that parents and grandparents with too much money may lavish on their children for any number of reasons-some of which may even be noble (not every loving relative is handy with a needle).

We look at those magazines and muse about what we would do with that money. Buy diapers, make a house payment, buy a cow for Kenya:)

So, creepy? Yes. Ridiculously expensive? Yes. But I think most parents would actually encourage their kids to make friends or buy a family dog to solve the dilemma of not enough siblings. Not too mention what kid doesn't like to boss someone around sometimes?-even if that someone is plastic:)

Gauntlets said...

I'm really glad to hear that economists and politicians are joining with us to consider this important matter. It's about time someone took us more seriously than we take ourselves.

Reb. Mary said...

Hee hee.

And oh, I do wish that something so simple as a couple nights of Tylenol could make the middle child sleep reliably and erase all memory of his beloved "pies" (pacifiers). Sleeping soundly just isn't his forte. (And has anyone else noticed that Tylenol actually makes their kids wired?).

Rebekah said...

I also had a doll lovingly made to look like me. It was the ugliest thing in the world and I hated it, and the idea that I looked like it. Maybe the freak-ugly twin could be a useful exercise in humility and character building?