Did I mention that Miffy is a white rabbit? Well, she is. Not the peachy, browny, not-actually-white-at-all-but-lets-call-it-white-anyway shade that some of us humans are, but glowing, arctic WHITE.
You know, like a rabbit.
Yeah. So - this is fine with me, obviously. We got series one of Miffy on DVD a while ago, and we loved it. I don't look at the pictures of Miffy and her friends and feeling uncomfortable about race, or worried about what it's doing to my children. This is partly because actually, Miffy is very diverse programme. It does not only show rabbits interacting; no! Miffy's friends include pigs (pink, of course) bears (brown) and a dog (also brown). Here are miffy and her friends, circa series one:
So, yes, very diverse. My point is - I'm not watching Miffy and wondering 'why are all the rabbits white?'. Instead, I am asking more fundamental questions, like 'why is that rabbit talking?' 'why is that rabbit going to school?' and 'in the wild, wouldn't that dog actually be attacking the rabbit?'
Along comes series two, and a new character called Melanie. I'm sure the series creators had the best of intentions, but - how can I explain this? I photographed my TV so I could show you what I mean:
Yeah. Now I'm feeling uncomfortable about race. Epic fail, Miffy, epic fail.
And speaking of pointless, borderline-offensive tokenism: what's up with nappy packaging? What I'm about to describe may be a UK-only thing, (well, obviously in other parts of the world you don't call them nappies at all, but you know what I mean). Or it might be old news to you. But anyway. Here's what newborn nappy packaging looks like over here (this is every brand I could find):
Notice anything? Yeah, all those newborns are white. Here's one exception:
|A very cute kid of indeterminate ethnicity|
However. Once you move into the bigger sizes, there are brown kids all over the packets. For example (this is only a sample; there are still white kids in these sizes too, of course)
But only on the big sizes. It seems to me like all the brown kids are on the big sizes. This can. not. possibly. be a coincidence. My guess is this: the newborn sizes are the stage where mothers are developing brand loyalty. Those first few sizes, people are still open to switching brands. But after a year or two, who wants to be still thinking about what brand of nappy to put their kid in? Not me, that's for sure. We picked our favourite (which also happens to be the cheapest, which is also not a coincidence) about a year and a half ago. I do not think about what brand to buy now, I just buy it. There could be a big sign saying 'Now with added BPA!' on the package and I would still buy that brand.
My point is, I don't think it really makes any kind of difference, marketing-wise, what picture the brand puts on the big sizes. So, yeah, when I look at all the white kids on the newborn sizes and then the kids who look like mine on the big sizes, it feels to me like they are saying: We will totally put brown kids on our packets, because we are super-inclusive like that. Just - you know, not at the point in the market where people are developing preferences that result in three years of brand loyalty.
Did that conversation really happen in marketing departments all across the land? I guess it did.
Am I imagining this? I don't think so. I don't think I'm imagining this.
And then I thought about it, and remembered why I noticed it in the first place. When I was buying tiny nappies, I was looking, (subconsciously at first, then consciously), for a package with children that looked like my own children. I would have bought that brand, if it had existed. And I guess the
We are all drawn to children who look like our children, even when - perhaps especially when - we are spending our money. Is that wrong?
I don't think it's wrong. Is it wrong that marketing departments just want to give us what we want? I'm not sure. That's much more complicated.
But it's probably worth noticing, whatever our market power is, whatever colour we are, whatever colour our kids are.