One of the best running jokes in this past season of “Odd Mom Out” involves rich, WASPy, blonde Brooke hiring a woman named Janice in order to have an acceptably chic ethnic minority in her office. The thing is, Janice (or, as Brooke calls her, Ja-NICE) is white. Very white. The only reason Brooke thinks she’s black is because she’s a brunette. Throughout the season she makes politically correct comments to Ja-NICE about being black until finally, Janice is so offended she calls Brooke out on her racially-charged faux pas. When Brooke informs her equally vapid WASPy friends that Janice is, in fact, white, they respond in shock with one observing that he didn’t think Janice was ever “fun enough” to be black.
“Odd Mom Out’s” grand sendup to rich, white, grossly awkward endeavors at racial equality is the quintessential reference point for one of the primary conflicts in contemporary parenting. In a nutshell, rich, white trendsetters have no problem asserting their politically correct opinions into our parenting decisions—decisions that often directly involve issues of race, ethnicity and gender that they know little to nothing about.
One such issue involves what magazines little girls read. Last week a meme hit social media comparing the covers of Girls’ Life and Boys’ Life magazines. Girls’ Life featured a very pretty girl dolled up surrounded by article titles on fashion, first kisses and having a good school year. Boys’ Life featured a photo spread of fireman and policeman helmets, planes and microscopes with the title “Explore your future.” The usual bland, snore-inducing comments ensued that boil down to the lip service armchair feminists (a.k.a. the “Ra-Ra Sisterhood”) pay themselves via social media.
This week, the release of a new magazine for girls ages 5-10 was announced in multiple sources. Ironic timing? Perhaps not, given that the creator of this new magazine is Erin Bried who, “for the past 16 years, worked as the Editor at Large of SELF magazine, Senior Editor at Glamour and Senior Editor and Writer at Women’s Sports & Fitness.” Titled Kazoo, the quarterly magazine promises to “inspire” girls to be “strong, smart, fierce and above all, true to themselves.” That fluffy vaguery translates into articles about that hot buzz-acronym STEM. Because girls don’t need to dig fashion if they have brains, duh.
That’s right, the lady editing SELF and Glamour is railing against girls’ magazines focused on fashion and good looks. Because, obviously, she knows that your daughter is too stupid to buy a magazine if it says “boys” on the cover, even though the rest of the images appeal to her interests.
Instead of confronting a simple grammatical issue, the creator of Kazoo decided to create a Kickstarter campaign to fund the magazine’s first issue. With Kazoo’s four issues a year (yes, a whole four) you can bring STEM into your young daughter’s life for the low, low price of $50. $50 for a quarterly magazine sound a bit much? But, it’s printed in Vermont on recycled paper! Well, then, okay!
$50 goes a long way for most parents. That’s two child admissions to the Franklin Institute. Nearly three to the Please Touch Museum. At the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum a child can visit twice, including the Space Shuttle Pavilion, for what it costs to subscribe to Kazoo. And those are only the biggies. Local museums cost even less, as do outings and supplies for hands-on STEM-related activities.
Now, obviously, I’m not factoring in the recycled paper. But, it seems much more logical and cost-effective to teach your child not to allow the culture of media marketing to define his or her self-image instead of buying into the notion that your child must identify with a pre-existing brand in order to be self-actualized. Bried isn’t marketing anything that Michelle Obama hasn’t already hammered away at for 8 years. No one doubts that some girls like science. And no one is stopping them from liking science, except for those rich, white culture-vultures who think we all derive our sense of self from the cover of a magazine, or need someone posh to tell us what to do.
Want your kids to be culture-vultures? Teach them how to publish a zine of their own. Online. It’s called a blog and they’re super hot. And, guess what? They’re free!
Image via JoeyDeVilla.com.