kids and consumerism

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An excerpt from Laura Greenfield’s documentary kids + money

“An original short film by award-winning filmmaker and photographer Lauren Greenfield, kids + money is a conversation with young people from diverse Los Angeles communities about the role of money in their lives.  From rich to poor, Pacific Palisades to East L.A., kids address how they are shaped by a culture of consumerism.

In kids + money, Greenfield takes the cultural temperature of a generation imprinted by commercial values. Born of the extremes of poverty and wealth that define the Los Angeles landscape, kids tell their stories in a series of interview-based ‘portraits.’”

Of all the kids featured in the film, the 11-year-old Megan who is shown in this clip, terrified me the most. She already talks about how she doesn’t like her “fat feet”, her average-length legs, her cuticles, and the hair on her arms. She’s 11 years old.

Another part of the interview not included in the film:

Megan: [When I’m older] I want to be kind of tall, I want to have pretty hair, I still want my blue eyes; I don’t want them to change color. I just want to be skinny. I don’t want my freckles to be as dark when I’m older. If they’re still dark, I’ll get the laser thing to lighten them. 

Ashley: But they make you, you.

Megan: But when I’m older I don’t want them to be as dark. 

Ashley: But if you don’t have freckles you’re not Megan…

Megan: Also, I want perfect, straight teeth. Perfect, straight white teeth. 

It’s easy to feel smug and to hate her while watching this, but the truth is that she is the product of our society and popular culture. Her 13-year-old sister Ashley appears to be much more down-to-earth and their mom sees like a well-meaning and down-to-earth person as well, so you also can’t simply blame the parents or family. 

Ashley: I don’t wanna be super wealthy — that’s scary. I just want to have some money to know that I’ll be okay in the future. I don’t want to  be poor. I just want to be able to pay for my bills, buy a nice house, pay for  kids if I have them. Hopefully pay for college, and maybe buy some nice stuff for me.

Megan: I want to have enough money to be able to buy whatever I want. Like if tomorrow I feel like buying a Ferrari, I can just go out and buy one. And if the next day I feel like going on a huge shopping spree and spending twenty thousand dollars on clothes, I can.

This was filmed in 2008. Click on the link above to watch the entire film.