E Jane Dickson: 'Lifestyle marketing makes me want to scoop up my kids and create a new life for us all in the Hebrides'

Share
Related Topics

God knows I'm not immune to marketing. I have woken from troubled sleep, whimpering with desire for the latest, hyped-up handbag. I will cross continents for a particular shade of lipstick just because I like the name (when I am dead, "Rouge Coromandel" will be found engraved upon my heart). I can't cook for toffee, but a frail, fatuous part of me thinks that I could do it better, if only I had a full set of Nigella's curvy cookware. These are the small pleasures that make metropolitan living worthwhile.

God knows I'm not immune to marketing. I have woken from troubled sleep, whimpering with desire for the latest, hyped-up handbag. I will cross continents for a particular shade of lipstick just because I like the name (when I am dead, "Rouge Coromandel" will be found engraved upon my heart). I can't cook for toffee, but a frail, fatuous part of me thinks that I could do it better, if only I had a full set of Nigella's curvy cookware. These are the small pleasures that make metropolitan living worthwhile.

I would, therefore, be some kind of hypocrite to deny my children the pleasure of the latest fad. I may not enjoy it, but I guess I can cope with the seasonal rush on Beyblades/Ninja Turtles/whatever. I'll even indulge a craze for Cheestrings (not half bad with a glass of Pinot Grigio when the kids have gone to bed). Any parent can - and most parents do - take a firefighting approach to products. Whatever the received wisdom on "pester-power", nobody can make you buy specific items of pernicious trash for your children. And if Unsuitable Uncle turns up with Pole Dancer Barbie on Christmas morning, consigning your own lovingly chosen sustainable rubberwood gifts to oblivion, you bite your lip and get on with it.

It's the lifestyle marketing, though, the large-scale commercial brainwashing of children that makes me want to scoop up my kids and create a new life for us all in the Hebrides. I object very much indeed, for example, to being told that we are living in the age of the "tweenager". I have just returned from a trip to the US, where it is breathlessly projected by the marketing press that "tweens", girls between the ages of eight and 14, will by 2007 have a "buying power" of $43.5bn a year. That's an awful lot of lip gloss, and if it was just about lip gloss I wouldn't mind. It's the selling of the attitude, the "my first G-string" mentality, that is horrible.

And if we think it's just those dumb Americans falling for the emetically horrible concept of the "aspirant teenager", we're fooling ourselves. Already, Mary Kate and Ashley - the squillionaire twins who are the high priestesses of "tween" - are all the rage in my daughter's playground. Their straight-to-video films are impeccably soppy, invariably ending with the girls melting in the hairless embrace of a nice boy who will bring them home to their parents before lights out. But who wants an eight-year-old dreaming of embraces, hairless or otherwise?

I know that Clara and her little friends chatter constantly about what they will do when they're teenagers. Which is fine and completely natural. What is neither fine nor natural is the deliberate blurring of the boundary between childhood and adolescence. The creation of the "aspirant teenager" is just a cynical grooming of children for tastes and experiences that are, quite properly, beyond them. The child-woman thing was hideous when Dickens did it, and it doesn't leave a better taste in the mouth now. No amount of strawberry-flavoured lip gloss will disguise that fact.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’  

Children's TV shows like Grange Hill used to connect us to the real world

Grace Dent
An Indian bookseller waits for customers at a roadside stall on World Book and Copyright Day in Mumbai  

Novel translation lets us know what is really happening in the world

Boyd Tonkin
Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine