Thursday, April 19, 2012

The American Idol culture

We've had our friend GG (who is almost 17) with us for the two weeks of her Easter vacation from boarding school. In an effort to entertain the poor kid beyond our usual daily routine of farm chores, schoolwork, reading, housecleaning, etc., we've taken a few excursions into the city just for jollies.

If you think an extended stay on a farm is boring, just try finding something to do in a city that doesn't require large outlays of cash. We've actually wandered through two malls just for slips and giggles, and all four of us (myself, Older and Younger Daughter, and GG) find ourselves agog at the awfulness of them. Rather than energized and refreshed, we come away foot-sore and critical -- even GG, who is a self-described confirmed urbanite.

One moment was pretty funny. We walked into a mall and stopped at the Mall Directory to get our bearings. "We have to go THIS way," said Older Daughter. "Or is it THAT way?" I replied. We got our bearings and started walking, after which I said to Younger Daughter, "That's it. This confirms us as a bunch of country bumpkins."

As usual, our biggest chuckles came from shoe fashions. I confess, current trendy women's shoe fashions just floor me. I mean, really... why would anyone wear these? And how do they do it? It's like walking around on tippy-toe all day. Ouch.

The girls decided they had to try on a pair. So while GG was occupied in looking for a pair of sensible flats (which was the reason we were in this shoe store to begin with), Older and Younger Daughter each slipped on a pair of heels. Then balancing carefully and pulling themselves upright with the help of the shelving units, they paused long enough for me to take a picture before collapsing back on the bench. Phew, what an ordeal!

(Momentary digression: On the other hand, these shoe fashions are certainly no weirder than what's gracing fashion catwalks these days, such as: Bricks on the feet...

...and an urban interpretation of the Wild West. The caption reads: "Suffer for your art: The heels can only be worn for several hours at a time before becoming too uncomfortable."

Okay, end of digression.)

We paused by a store selling "nail art" and agreed the results liked like pretty and decorative vampire claws or something. We also speculated on what it would be like to milk a cow with these things on. Poor cow.

I took special note of a store targeted specifically at little girls...

...because of how outrageously fluorescent this year's fashions appear to be. No sneaking through the woods watching deer in these colors!

The, um, "messages" displayed in shop windows are questionable at best. (And this doesn't even include the Victoria's Secret windows, which we passed in a hurry with eyes averted).

(Oddly the most interesting store we encountered -- and I'm kicking myself for not taking photos -- was a store selling... reptiles. Yes, really. It was a large place with many display cases selling everything from chameleons to pythons to turtles to tarantulas (yes I'm aware tarantulas are not reptiles, duh) to anoles to iguanas. It was like wandering into a small zoo. The display cases were beautiful and everything was nicely maintained, squeaky clean, and fascinating. Why on earth a store like this was located in a mall, and what volume of business they must get, can only be surmised.)

The rare trips to these cultural icons confirmed my low opinion of malls. To me, they're the epitome of an "American Idol culture," full of shallow and vain interests. Once in awhile this country bumpkin mama needs confirmation that raising kids in the country isn't such a bad thing.

Malls also reinforced the stupidity of fashion trends in general. In the past, readers have sent me stuff that would make your eyeballs bleed.

Consider these: Mantyhose... designed for "warmth and comfort."

The article mentions these trendy items are also called "brosiery," "guylons," "he-tards," and "beau-hose" -- and assure the appalled reader that "Function over form may be the truest drive behind the sales" since "figures that show sales are strongest in some of the world's coldest countries."

Or consider these: Manties. Yes, that's manly panties.

Somehow coupled with all this nonsense pop culture fashion, it didn't surprise me to stumble upon this horrifying article about a Toddlers & Tiaras mother who modeled a G-string in front of her two-year-old daughter to help her become "culturally diverse."

Apparently this woman -- a mother of four -- was being photographed for a racy calendar and insisted her daughter watch the shoot. She told the photographer, "My style of parenting is extremely different. I think exposing your child to whatever you can is just a really great way to be culturally diverse."

The mother also said, "She know, and has full comprehension of how the business works. She has a vast understanding that some seven-year-olds, six-year-olds don't have." She also believes her daughter is more like a 17-year-old than a toddler. Way to mess up your kid, lady.

The implications of this woman's actions and the repercussions it will have on her children are absolutely beyond belief.

You see, to me this whole fashion thing is just a continuum. The stuff we see in malls is at one end; the (cough) "mother" who sticks her naked butt in her toddler's face in the name of "diversity" is at the other end.

In the end, it's the children who suffer. And those children will grow into adults who think this stuff is normal.

Okay, I'm done ranting.


  1. "No sneaking through the woods watching deer in these colors!"

    Yes you can; deer are color blind. You might want to change that to turkey hunting.

    The pistol pumps are interesting. Just think if you wanted to go urban, you could attach a Glock, or the retro spy look a Walthur PPK.

  2. And we wonder what has happened to our society. Sick, sick, sick. And, extremely sad. That woman is committing child abuse. And when she grows up to use sex as her way of making the world work won't her mama be proud of her diversity.

  3. Although I occasionally purchase something at a mall I don't like spending time in them. I call them the Temples of Mammon.

  4. Oh times they are a changing. It's interesting, though, how some of this is a case of what's old is new again. Specifically pantyhose on men:
    Somehow I don't think it will be this classic, though... :-/

  5. I love your rant! Keep it up.

  6. Rant as much as you want, Patrice! I live within five miles of a handful of malls, but this old lady won't go. If you had to expose your lovely daughters-plus-one to the underbelly of culture, at least you approached it in a healthy way -- with ridicule and butt-kickins. Thanks for all you do!

  7. To be honest the average young person sees nothing wrong with all of this...and we wonder why the country is in the shape it is.

  8. I feel like I need to go wash my eyes out. I clicked on the first photo because I wanted to see GG's lovely skirt up close. I then looked at all the rest of the photos without reading the narrative that goes with them. I thought I was looking at a porn site, something I have never seen before. If this is OK to most people, then no wonder society is going down the tubes. Just my thoughts. JB

  9. Have not ventured into a Mall in many years, can not say that I have missed a thing !

    DEE, Great American South West

  10. . . .but did you notice the guinea feathers decorating one of the pairs of "shoes"?

  11. Rant on, sister! I find myself ranting more and more.

    My kids used to "wish" they lived in a town with a mall. They went to a mall in WA once in the year we lived there, and once when we lived in TX. I took them once in SD when a kid arrived from his father's with NO clothes except those on his back, and then in the next nine years I took my daughter ONCE (2004) to the closest mall, which was 150 miles away. It was more about our travel time, our time together, and finding a store that had clothing that was appropriate, not something that screamed "teenage street walker"! We most frequently shopped the local second hand store in the town where we lived.

    Malls are a form of mental prison that many "think" (I use that term with LOTS of sarcasm) they can't live without. An artificial atmosphere for people who live artificial lives. For me, going to a mall was like going to the zoo and looking at animals from alien planets.

    We have a nation of debt, and I'd not be surprised if most mall purchases aren't
    "out of fashion" and considered no longer useful or on the bedroom floor dirty and used by the cat or dog for a bed before they are ever paid for, another symptom of a sick society that knows how to cure itself but doesn't want to.

    Not only am I prone to rants, but also increasingly cynical...


  12. I busted out laughing at the "Mantyhose". Good grief! To be a bit indelicate...if I were a young single lady so inclined to "hook up" with a young man and he disrobed and I saw he was wearing those....well, let's just say he would probably leave quickly, as I would point AND laugh uproariously!
    As for the shoes...YECCCH! A nice pair of ballet flats or simple (low) pumps for a more formal situation, but those heels? NEVER!
    The pageant mom will probably never understand why her daughter goes into porn movies when she turns 18...or maybe she'll be proud. Sick woman. I have to wonder...who abused HER?

  13. Wow, how is that not some kind of sexual abuse to that poor child? And why on earth would any woman want her picture taken in that state? I always say that Victoria doesn't have many secrets left. Apparently either does this mother!

  14. OK that is just wrong on the "Manty Hose". I haven't seen them in the mall here yet (Thank goodness). I know I would NEVER catch my husband in them not even for Halloween.

  15. "He-tards" well, that just makes me think of a very derogatory word, but seemingly fitting to any man who is buying those tights, he is a he-tard.

  16. I share your outrage, but ugh...a warning would have been nice--my kids were standing by!

  17. I actually wish I had not seen this post. While the content of your writing was interesting and full of excellent observations, I certainly do not want my kids to see half the pictures you posted in it, and I do not feel edified to have seen them myself, mainly the half naked people all over it. I hate to send a negative comment, because I love you, but I had to say something this time. The prom dresses were another one of those posts I could have done without as well. Sorry.

  18. Frightening. I thought this sort of insanity only existed on the East coast and in Hollywood.
    Perhaps you wandered into a circus side show and not a mall.

    1. O.K. Bostn, New York Philadelphia, Baltimore. You know, the "metro-zoo".

  19. have you been to walmart lately..those tee shirts at walmart are practically see thru these days...makes me wonder where is the cotton...and everything you saw at the mall was manufactured overseas too..malls and shopping center are not for the weak these takes real strength and courage to go from one end to the other...i call them soddom and gomorah. makes me think that a financial collapse just might be a good thing.

  20. I don't shop the mall much either, only to go to, yes, Victorias Secret. Gasp. They do have some excellent bras. But once you find the size and fit, they are available 24/7 online.

    Cough, in my younger days, I did have some much higher heels. In fact now that you have reminded me, I'll dig those out of the back of the closet for the trip to Goodwill this week. I don't think they will walk as well at 48 with a bunion. :)

    The pictures don't shock me in the post. Its nothing that isn't out there. Good teaching moment for the kids and to express your family's ideas on this.

    (Man hose, scarier yet, he shaved his legs for that. So wrong on soooo many levels.)

  21. I was proud of my 13 year-old granddaughter when she announced that nothing in the teen stores was appropriate to wear to church. Instead she found a skirt (that wasn't too short) and wore it with a nice tee.

  22. The nearest mall to us is about 45 miles away in Laughlin, Nevada. Someone told us a few years ago that there was an Orange Julius there, and we used to LOVE Orange Julius, so we made the trip and had an Orange Julius and a hot dog. If I remember correctly, a medium drink was around $4.50! We could buy a big bag of oranges for that amount and make our own Orange Julius! A single hot dog was almost as much as the drink. We haven't been back. There's also a huge mall in Henderson, Nevada that's about 125 miles from us. We go there once a year at Christmas to buy See's Candy. See's is a tradition with us at Christmas. It's the only time of the year when we have what we consider to be the best candy ever made. Thank God there's no See's shop any closer! LOL --Fred in AZ

  23. My Idol is your cover photo (Is that what it's called?) of those 2 sweet little girls walking down a dirt road. Thanks for your blog!!! Love it to death

  24. Malls can be good entertainment-the last time I was in one was a few weeks ago, to get the candy machine used for Tom Servo's head in Mystery Science Theatre 3000("executive candy dispenser")-it's still manufactured,and a candy shop there sells it. I thought those "manty hose" things were some sort of joke-apparently not....
    Most of the remaining malls seem to cater to petite females 13 to 30 for the most part. If you don't fit that category, there is very little for you in a mall.
    Malls seem to be going extinct-all but one have gone the way of the dinosaur here.

  25. I go to the mall twice a year to get my Chick-fil-a fix :) I wish they would put in a stand-alone where I live.

    Other than that, I have no use for the mall. I am a second hand clothing type of gal. LOL

  26. HA HA HA, OMG (OH MY GOODNESS). Those man hose are making me laugh so much, I am so going to show my husband. I don't mind that Justice has bright colored clothes, it makes my child easier to spot at the park and such :), you so however have to watch the height of the shorts, tops and skirts, because many a time they are not appropriate for girls, especially girls who are young enough to wear Justice sized clothing! Oh and the hooker shoes, yes I did call them that! Our 8 year old daughter wears a 6-61/2 in woman's and this last weekend we went shopping for sensible white dress sandles for summer, all we kept seeing were HOOKER shoes, one after the other, store after store. After 3 stores and my last straw, we finally allowed her (well my husband more than I) to get a shoe with a heel, since we could not find any non heeled shoes, not the hooker heels but she does have a heel, and for my taste it's a little too tall for her age, but by this time it was that or a white box, that I sut up to look like a sandle :). I did buy her a dressier white tennis shoe so it was my comprise with my husband. She would be allowed to wear the heels out in public with us on weekends or at services with her grandparents and the white tennis shoe to school with her skirts and dresses.

  27. I was wondering if you could tell me where the boarding school the young woman attends is located. I know a family looking for such a school in the northwest and google is failing me :-)

    1. For privacy reasons, I won't post any info. Why don't you email me at ?

      - Patrice

  28. I live in "the city" and the nearest mall (because malls are suburban entities) is a good 20-30 minutes away... I don't know for sure b/c I HATE the mall. But I LOVE the city! I live in Pittsburgh, so its a mid-sized city. And I never have to spend gobs of cash... that's simply not true and shows you haven't given the city a chance. We just saw an amazing play tonight and spent 35 dollars total. Its start of summer concert season and there will be a non-stop parade of free or cheap concerts. First Fridays at the Frick is free (suggested donation 5 dollars) and its hundreds (thousands?) of people sitting in a garden between an old estate and a museum listening to music and eating picnic dinners. Even when the music isn't something we're into its still amazing. Or going to a good club and hearing a great local bluegrass band play while we sip drinks and nibble on reasonably priced (but fabulous) appetizers. There are arts festivals (free!) and I made it mine! artist markets. I live surrounded by public parks and am still discovering new paths. Sometimes we go mushroom hunting (with a local group). The universities put on events like CMU's carnaval and buggy races. And in teh winter time there is first night.

    Oh, and how can I forget the quarterly gallery crawls. Also completely free! And Penguins student rush tickets. Or 12 dollars (or less) to go see the Pirates AND a skyblast fireworks show. There are free days at museums all of the time. And kids are generally free all of the time. Children's theater and events are nearly free as well. HOw about trying a science museum instead of a mall? Or art instead of crazy shoes?

    Ya, some things cost money. And it really helps to be a student but there is so much stuff going on that we can't even manage to hit all the free stuff.
    I'd keep on going on, but I'm pretty sure there's a limit to how much I can type.

  29. I don't go to the mall often. Either I am looking for something specific or Christmas shopping.

  30. What the...??? As an Alaskan, I wear black silk long-johns quite often in the winter for the "warmth and comfort" thing. They too are tight and clingy like the manty-hose, but there's something grossly different about mine (found in any Cabela's catalog) and what they're marketing here. Gross!

    Steve Davis
    Anchorage, Alaska

  31. I always looking forward new comfortable shoes. I tried many kind of brand shoes. All shoes are not comfortable but stylish. Now i find both comfortable and stylish shoes and this shoes is benefits of crossfit shoes.