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

C# Web Developer (ASP.NET, JavaScript, MVC-4, HTML5) London

£35000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Web Develop...

Senior Data Scientist (Data Mining, RSPSS, R, AI, CPLEX, SQL)

£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...

Law Costs

Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - This is a very unusual law c...

Junior VB.NET Application Developer (ASP.NET, SQL, Graduate)

£28000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior VB.NET ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

No menu! Dining doesn't get posher than this

Dom Joly
 

Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Ellen E Jones
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution