I recently wrote a post about The Rebel Sell. Amongst many of the points that Heath and Potter, they point out that the American quest to be an individual and different has lead to competition amongst people and corporations. In other words, in our quest to not conform, be “against the system” and become a rebel, we have fueled capitalism. They have stated that companies and the system are not (fully) to blame for consumerism, but rather, it is the mindset of Americans that have caused the supposed consumerism in America.
I’m not sure where this story about a 6-year-old girl getting humiliated at an American Girl store for bringing in a Target doll she bought by herself to get her hair styled fits in, but I think it proves and disproves the points made by Heath and Potter.
It proves their point because the attitudes of people in the store show how much we as citizens of the United States are to blame for the rampant consumerism in this country. As was stated in the story:
One mom just smiled and said “Well, American Girl Dolls aren’t for everyone, you know.” A sentence cleverly crafted to make Etta feel like someone cared about her but also to be aware that she really didn’t belong there in your fancy store with the other, richer, better girls. How compassionate!
Obviously, pressure is put on this girl (and her mom) to make her feel like they need to “Keep up with the Jones'”. Consumerism is fueled by the pressure of others.
On the other hand, the girl was chided for being different and going “against the system” to an extent. When she presented the doll to the stylist, here is what happened:
“This isn’t a real doll!” the stylist exclaimed.
And in this case, the company was the one forcing conformity. While we as American strive hard to be different, companies want to hold your business. In some ways, the only way they hold you is by forcing conformity and wanting people to play by their rules. Yes, you can certainly walk away if you want, but there are people who are not strong enough financially or emotionally to fight a large corporation. In many ways, they have you under the thumb. It is a terrible cycle.
Yes, I have mentioned something that doesn’t have extremely large consequences (except for the fact this girl is scarred), but it is a microcosm of the larger problem. This is not over for me…