A Sample Response Essay
“How Society is influencing the Children of Today”
I stared at the clothes in front of me, sighing. How did companies actually make clothes like these, I wondered while reading the various racy comments on the shirts. Shirts with sayings like, your boyfriend says hi and get in bed. I pulled the clothes off the rack, glancing at them. Is that how the world saw girls like me? Was our only purpose to seduce men and be sex objects? Is this my future, I wondered, closing my eyes. Was I doomed to be seen like this just cause the market has made girls like me out to be like this? I wondered while I placed the shirt back on the rack and walked out of the store.
Sadly, this is how the market sees girls like me today. Even from birth, girls are influenced to believe that they are supposed to be seen as sexual objects, and not real people. What’s worse is many girls go on to believe this belief for the rest of their lives, and always end up wondering if this is how everyone else in the world sees them. It’s what I often wonder, because even now I’m still dealing with the after effect of the influence the market had on me as a young girl. Even now, I don’t see myself in my own terms but in the market’s terms. Honestly, I hate how the market has made me and numerous other young girls see ourselves as these “objects.” Even boys are treated like this in several ways, as the market influences them to act tough and macho, and if they don’t, then they are seen as less of a man. It’s not that the market is just changing kids’ idea of who they are, but that they are also shaping kids into their own product. They are molding and shaping kids into what they want them to be, and what they what them to buy. It makes it so that whichever market influences them more is the market that succeeds in getting their business. Thus, they are turned into the perfect commodities.
According to Henry A. Giroux in “Commodifying Kids: The Forgotten Crisis”, our current economic market today has been commodifiying kids, using them as a source of income, to help our economy get out of its current situation. The markets of our world have been marketing to children heavily, influencing them to buy certain things and to think a certain way. Giroux says that this has changed how our society views the children of our world, and how they now view them as something that can be “bought” or “sold to the highest bidder.” Society is not only treating children as a commodity now, but also as something that can be easily swayed. Giroux states that society is not only influencing what kids buy, but also how they think and how they see themselves. The market has become so strong and influential today that they can almost be seen as a child’s third parent. They have that much influence over how the child thinks and acts in the future.
Personally, I agree with what Giroux says about media conglomerates in his article. I also believe that society today is using kids as their source of income; by influencing the things they should buy which inevitably influences how they live. Honestly, up until I read this article I hadn’t realized that this actually happened and that I myself was a victim of this issue. After reading this article, I came to realize why I thought certain products defined me as cool or smart or maybe even pretty. It was because the market had influenced my thinking at a young age, making me agree with their ideas and thoughts. I realize now that instead of being my own person when I was younger, I was instead a “product” that was created by the market to help the economy get back to where it used to be. It’s shocking to realize just how easily I was swayed by the media conglomerates when I was younger. I was basically being sold off to whoever could influence me the most, “the highest bidder.” My own experiences definitely help put this whole essay into perspective for me, because I can relate to it. It also helps me to realize that this problem must be stopped before it influences any more children of our world.
In Giroux’s article, Schor states that by three or three and a half years old, children soon start to believe that brands communicate their personal qualities. I myself experienced this effect when I was a little girl. To me, I was only cool or smart if I had a certain product that made me such. Back when I was a little girl, I used to watch television all the time, and as such was confronted by numerous commercials every day. These commercials showed me about the latest and newest items that were on sale at my local stores. According to these commercials, these items would instantly make me cooler and everyone would want to hang out with me. Being the impressionable little kid that I was, I believed what they said and eagerly sought these products out hoping that everyone would want to hang out with me once I had them. These same type of commercials heavily influenced what I bought for some time. I believed that I had to buy the cool clothes and items otherwise no one would like me. Even something as simple as what school supplies I bought was influenced by the media conglomerates. At this point, my interests were no longer my own, but the market’s interests instead.
Giroux describes the market as something “…that attempts to turn kids into consumers and childhood into a saleable commodity.” He describes how even at a tender young age of four months old, the market is already targeting children, regardless of their young age. Such baby videos as, Baby Gourmet, Baby Einstein, Brainy Baby, Sesame Street Baby, and Disney’s Winnie the Pooh Baby, are being marketed towards parents of babies as videos that will give their child “the upper hand.” I’ve also noticed that even seemingly innocent game sites are influencing the children of our society; something as simple as Pirates of the Caribbean Online or even Trollz Online is being used to market a certain brand towards the kids of today. Instead of just being a simple gaming website where kids can go to have fun, it is instead a way to make a certain movie or show bigger and more popular. The games are basically influencing kids’ interests as they play the game. Kids these days aren’t even allowed to play games without some of their thought processes being influenced by the media conglomerates today.
The worse marketing strategy, in my opinion, is how the media conglomerates market young girls these days. Stores are selling clothes with phrases, such as eye candy and who needs credit cards, to the young girls of our society. Instead of encouraging girls to reach for their dreams, the market is instead encouraging girls to reach for something else. But hey, at least that little girl will be experienced at what she does. After all, she can pick up her own pole dancing kit at the store.
Giroux states that there is more at stake here than just making money, but there is also the construction of particular modes of subjectivity, identification, and agency on children. The markets of today are succeeding in what they sought out to do, which was to sell their products; but, they are also molding the children of our world into one person. Instead of that child having a unique identity, they instead share one with the rest of the world. Their identity and personality is no longer their own, but one the market sought out to create. Their own personality was something that was made by the market, and thus they are a product of the market and also something that can be sold. Also, I’m sure they didn’t realize the long term effects these sorts of strategies would inflict on kids. These types of marketing methods have inevitably influenced how the kids in our world see themselves, how they act, and what they like. The media conglomerates have succeeded in having the kids save our country’s economy, but they have also succeeded in turning them into products.
It’s sad to say, but even now I’m still affected by the heavy influence the market had on me as a young girl. No, my interests are no longer governed solely by what the markets says I should like, but they are still somewhat. No, what the real problem is and will probably be for the rest of my life is how I see myself as a girl and how I think the world sees girls like me. Because of the influence the market had on me, especially clothing markets, I’m not sure how the world sees me. Does it see me as a talented and smart individual who can possibly change the world or just a simple girl who was put on this planet to fulfill the needs of the men of this world? Honestly, I don’t know. I’m not sure how people see me. I’m not sure if they see me more as the first person, or the second. Every single day I will wonder which it is, though. Every time someone is nice to me, especially a guy, I will wonder if it’s because I’m nice or if it’s just cause they like that I’m wearing short shorts. I’ll always wonder that because the market influenced me into thinking that. Every single day of my childhood, the market would bombard me with advertisements about how I should think, how I should act, and who I should be. Even now, I’m not sure if my personality is my own but instead one that was created by the media conglomerates. Often times I wonder, am I still a product for the market today? Honestly, I don’t know.