Tuesday, June 29, 2010

gross consumerism

 It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you can live as you wish. Mother Teresa

Andrea from The Train to Crazy recently shared the above quote. She asked what it meant to us. I had responded "Reminds me of the moral bankruptcy with which I can be so comfortable with if I am not careful."

Yesterday, I was not so comfortable. 

I am not sure if you are familiar with American Girl Dolls. The original concept was actually a pretty good one. Dolls for girls that related to specific periods of history and come with story books that share that history. However, if you've stepped inside an American Girl store, you know that the concept has moved well beyond the original idea. 

The prices for the dolls and accessories are beyond ridiculous. You pay more for a costume for a doll than I would pay for clothing to put my own children. 

Why do I allow my daughters to own American Girl Dolls? Why do I support it if I don't like it?. I don't. At least not personally, I am only complicit.

My mother-in-law has paid for every single last bit of American Girl stuff my daughters own.

That doesn't make me feel less guilty and angry. Every time I step into an American Girl store, I am appalled by how much money people are spending on an inanimate object.I am distressed by the fact that none of the children in the store seem happy. They are all whining, complaining or throwing tantrums (including my own little angels).

The worst part is that the amount spent in the store in one hour by one customer for the sake of one doll is often enough to support a Compassion child for a year. A doll - a child. It shouldn't be a hard choice.

I want to say something to my in-laws. But I am afraid that my relationship with them isn't the best. I have reached the point of biting my tongue and smiling so that something like peace exists in our family. 

I did pull my eldest child to the side yesterday and told her that what her grandparent's spent in the store yesterday would nearly support both our Compassion girls for a year. I pointed out to her that Lavinia and Yuleidy are real living breathing people and the dolls are just dolls. I told her it wasn't so much that I didn't want her to have the gifts from Grammy so much as I wanted her to realize what was really important. In the scope of eternity, dolls are nothing. 

Did I do enough? I don't know. But peace with my husband, children, and in-laws seems an objective worth pursuing for their sakes if not my own. But it doesn't make yesterday any less nauseating to me (yes, it did make me sick to my stomach).

For the record, my in-laws arrived on the 22nd and will be her until the 6th.


  1. I know both of my nieces own them and picking out accessories for gifts is very expensive.

    Hey I just wanted to let you know that I posted chapter 4 Empty Arms Broken Hearts


  2. I. Just. Don't. Get. It.

    Their catalog used to come to my house. They have some SLICK advertizing. I'm sure the stores MUST be bone chilling.

  3. This is a difficult situation, isn't it? I know this... if one of my daughter-in-laws was having these feelings, I would want her to approach me and confide in me, but I'm not your MIL and I don't know how she would react, so that's not a lot of help. I totally understand your feelings and concerns. Honestly, what a crazy, mixed-up society we live in when the expense of a doll and doll clothes exceeds the expense of taking care of a human life. So odd. You're right to be concerned. Your MIL probably indulges your girls with these dolls just because she knows they enjoy them, so it's an "easy" gift for her to give them. Is there another, less expensive, hobby or collection your girls could start? I always loved it when my kids collected "rocks." (They are plentiful and cheap!) We even got them a rock tumbler to make the rocks prettier! ;o) Of course that was my boys... rocks probably don't appeal to many girls. Hmmm. Sorry, I'm not much help...

  4. Hi Melissa, So glad you stopped by the Vintage Nest for a visit. It's very early here and my head is still fuzzy and I can't think of anything profound to say. I have been to the AG store in Chicago that has a hospital and hairdressers. It's amazing. I keep hoping to find one at a yard sale at a cheapo price. :)
    I have enjoyed looking at your photography. It's beautiful.

  5. Oh boy. I totally get where you are coming from. But....totally my opinion, I think your in-laws are doing that because it gives them joy to give to their granddaughters -- a gift (though frivolous and wasteful). Consider your silence and smiling your "gift" to them. You are concerned about the message your daughters are getting. But they are getting the RIGHT message -- from you. I get the feeling your in-laws aren't the kind who are much for change. It's important to show that family can get along. Grandparents aren't around forever to spoil their grandchildren. My parents always went overboard at Christmas which kind of bothered me, but my mom was not the "teachable" kind. Now that they are gone, we are able to establish different boundaries --but it's not the same with them gone (even though my mother and I saw things very differently). Maybe you could try some trial little "lessons" for MIL, but if you get resistance -- I say keep the peace. (But, hey, I'm not one who likes to rock the boat, even when sometimes I should). Just my opinion. It is a sticky situation.