The Influence of Advertising or Just Plain Hype

10 12 2009

I tried to watch one of the children’s television programs tonite with my daughter, but it was impossible to stay with the story line because of all the interfering commercials offering all kinds of products, not only for the children, but also for the adults who would be watching with their children. Everything offered was something that ‘you must have’. Not only do you want this, but you absolutely, positively need it.

When I was growing up, my mother used to talk of  Christmas at her house when she was growing up. There were 9 children and no father, so they had very little money for anything, much less for items they might want. On Christmas morning, all those 9 children got up and were thrilled and surprised to find an orange that Santa had left each of them. Later on, I read in the 50’s about a minority woman who was moaning that that was all she got for Christmas when she was a child. But she failed to mention that this was the norm for many of the families over the years. My mother never moaned nor complained about this. She thought that orange was a great and grand surprise to have for Christmas. Depends upon your attitude I guess. And on what you think you need to make you happy.

Nowadays, everyone expects to have everything imaginable under the tree on Christmas morning. And why? Because someone says they not only want this, but they need it in order to be happy in their lives. Everyone needs to step back and take a good hard look at their lives. What you need and what you want are two very different things. I might want a lot of things, but I really don’t need them. When I was growing up, I never realized that I didn’t need so many things until my parents told me so. I have heard the words, “You don’t need that” many times in my lifetime. Of course I thought I did need something because my friends all had it, or because I saw it in a magazine or heard about it on the radio. But that didn’t mean that I needed it. And thankfully, my parents taught me not to always want, want, want. They taught me well. I have never had the desire for ‘things’.

One year when I was a young teen, I insisted that I needed this particular kind of haircut. It was called a ‘feather cut’ and all my friends were getting this gorgeous haircut and they looked so beautiful that I just had to have one of those. My parents didn’t argue about it. They told me a couple of times that I didn’t need it, but I kept on insisting that I did. Finally, my mother took me to the beauty shop and I went in, thrilled beyond words. I sat down in the chair and insisted again that I needed this ‘feather cut’. The man tried to tell me that I would have to have a permanent also, but I insisted that my friends all had this wonderful haircut and I was getting one, too. And I was also going to be beautiful. Well, he did just like my parents had done. He didn’t bother to argue with me about it. He just set about cutting my hair. I watched in the mirror and the transformation just simply was not happening to me. I just looked the same. When he finished cutting, I paid the bill, but could not believe the way I looked. Sure enough, he was right. I didn’t need that ‘feather cut’. In order to have that beautiful hairdo, it was necessary to either have a permanent or to have naturally curly hair. But I had insisted until I won. And now I had chunks of hair all over my head. Instead of looking gorgeous, I just looked ridiculous. Where the hair was supposed to ‘feather’, mine sat like a clod all over my head. I was ashamed, but was stuck with the look for quite awhile afterwards. But I learned that just because I wanted that haircut didn’t mean that I needed it.

If you get a chance, teach your children they don’t need all those things they really just want. Teach them they don’t need things to be happy in their lives. Tell them they don’t need that until they learn the value of and the difference in wants and needs.



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