|What fresh hell is this?
(CityLink Mall. Taken by Terence Ong in March 2006.)
I firmly believe Target’s slogan should be “What fresh hell is this?” Though disappointed, I understand that this will never actually be their slogan because their marketing department wants to encourage people to shop there. I mention this because it’s illustrative of the fact that I’m not a person who enjoys shopping.
That’s why originally I wasn’t going to take my daughter back to school shopping. We tend to buy things on an as needed basis and she’s already got all the stuff she needs to start kindergarten. Why opt into yet another “BUY ALL THE THINGS!!!” bonanza? Why not go to the beach instead?
But then last night I started to guilt spiral: What if my kid is the only kid in her class who didn’t get to go back to school shopping? What about the “remember the feeling of a brand new backpack and spanking new shoes” stuff the ads talk about? What if that’s a real, worthwhile feeling and she won’t get to have it? What about creating culturally significant opportunities for mother daughter bonding? Am I selfishly just considering my own idiosyncratic retail preferences? WHY WON’T I THINK OF THE CHILDREN?!
That’s how my daughter and I ended up at the mall on the day before school started despite the fact that I think “What fresh hell is this?” would be an equally appropriate slogan for malls.
I had this vague idea that because I’m not a big recreational shopper I could somehow model that for my daughter. By some kind of magical osmotic process she’d learn to exist within an environment specifically designed to separate her from disposable income without actually being tempted into buying stuff for the sake of buying stuff. Kind of like when you go out to eat you navigate menus filled with all kinds of choices and learn to pick the healthy ones rather than limiting yourself to restaurants that exclusively serve tofu and mirco-greens. I hoped our back to school shopping trip would be, in a way, a lesson in non-consumerism.
Things did not go as planned.
The mall was like a feeding frenzy only instead of chum and sharks there were clothes sewn by Indonesian seven year olds and credit card wielding mother daughter duos. Expecting your five year old to pass up opportunities to get sparkly pink stuff in a zen-like manner when she sees a parade of other kids getting glittery crap is akin to expecting your teenager to read “Playboy” for the articles.
So instead of a lesson in non-consumerism we had the more classic back to school shopping experience. Mom, can I have this? Why not? How about this? Can I have this? No? Whyyyyy? Ok. How about this?Can I get this?
In the end, my kid probably got some kind of lesson in not always getting what we want and I got a lesson in trusting my gut because do you know what I think the slogan for ‘back to school shopping’ should be: What fresh hell is this?