Friday, October 06, 2006

the bastardization of holly hobbie

I bought a lunch box just like this one at an antique store in Idaho Falls about eight years ago. I've collected lunch boxes since high school (when I carried them as purses) and I remembered Holly Hobbie fondly from my youth. But I couldn't remember who Holly Hobbie was. Was she a character in a book? Folklore? What was her backstory? Where did she come from? All I knew was that she was a patchwork pioneer girl whose face hid behind a floppy blue bonnet and that her image, usually in profile and sometimes with a needle in hand or bent over an old-fashioned sewing machine, graced lunchboxes, colorforms, needle/patchwork wall hangings and bedsheets.

I asked about her at the antique store, but they didn't know. A search of their library books on collector's items yeilded no answers.

In about 10 seconds on Google this morning I found this quote:

"Holly Hobbie, the charming girl in the oversized, blue chintz bonnet, is a character, who personifies childhood innocence. It was named after its author and creator, Holly Hobbie, and introduced as a character design on a few greeting cards in 1967 by American Greetings Corp.

Holly’s engaging smile and friendly, country girl appeal hide a deeper wisdom and strong, optimistic outlook on life —one she is quite happy to share with others. In a rustic, early-American setting, Holly Hobbie, her brother, Robby, and best friend Heather, share friendship and happy times together."

It's sort of depressing that Holly Hobbie was invented by a greeting card company during the late sixties and that she was not an actual pioneer girl popularized in my youth.

But not as depressing as the following images:

That is the new Holly Hobbie. What does THAT girl have to do with Holly Hobbie?!?! Childhood innosence? Rustic American setting? Friendly, country girl appeal that hides a deeper widsom? That girl is NOT Holly Hobbie. She's not even a girl. She's 18, as are all dolls marketed to six year olds nowadays. That girl did not sew those jeans herself, like I always imagined the real Holly Hobbie did her apron. That girl doesn't cross stitch! And nobody but 13 year old boys would want a picture of that girl on their bedsheets!

I shudder sometimes to think of the world my daughter is growing up in. Where Holly Hobbie wears capris and a newsboy hat and says, "Math is hard, let's go shopping." And marketing companies try to sell her slutty Bratz dolls and t-shirts that are supposed to be cool and funny and sassy with slogans like "spoiled rotten" or "life's too short to do my homework."

They're probably going to reissue the Little House books with Laura in a haltertop french kissing Almanzo on the cover. Or cut off Anne Shirley's braids for a chunky layered bob and show her in the urban condo she shares with Diana Barry instead of lving at Green Gables with Matthew and Marilla, because kids don't need parents--according to the maketing companies--and certainly not OLD people.
And then I'll just have to lay down and die.

I am thankful I don't have to live the hard and oppressive life of a pioneer wife. I'm glad that I'm sitting at my computer right now typing a blog I can share with you all instantly instead of dipping a pen in an inkwell and sending a letter by train or horse. I am thankful to have a cell phone and a refridgerator and a gas furnace. I'm glad I have my own pair of capri pants and newsboy hat. I'm glad that even in a small city in rural Nebrska the pastor's wife can get away with playing guitar and singing in public her own songs that are not "christian music" and be outspoken and left to do her own thing. Believe me, I know I've got it good.

But there are sometimes when I would like a time machine; when the modern world makes me feel like I was born at the wrong point in history; when I want to just move out to a farmhouse and churn my own butter and raise self-reliant, capable, confident & moral children who know God's love for them, without having to battle the culture around us constantly and on every little seemingly inconsequential thing, like Hollie Freakin' Hobbie.

End rant.
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Anonymous said...

That is really stunning. I don't have words.

emdunbar said...

mindboggling, no? my only hope is that it just can't sell, right? no one is going to buy into that, are they? hh's target audience is children of people are age--how could a woman born in the seventies believe THAT is holly hobbie?

Carey M. said...

Very interesting. I am also thirty-two and way into Little House on the Prairie. And Holly freakin' Hobbie. In fact, I didn't know about this until a scant seven years ago, but I grew up about ten miles from the place where Ma and Pa got married. But mostly, I think, I loved those stories because they are somewhat real -- at least they felt more real than a lot of the books out there. But there's this other side to it, too. And it's the whole commercialization aspect -- they point out how our lives are messed up, convince us that our lives are without even if they aren't, and then provide something that can fill the hole. Thirty years ago, maybe they convinced little girls that if only we lived like the Ingalls family (No thank you! Remember how Mary went blind? Child mortality?), or bought stuff to fill that void, life would be perfect. Today, it's just something different. Kind of... I'm sort of playing devil's advocate (dangerous analogy, but take it in the vernacular way), but I'm sort of just saying what I think, too. They worked too darn hard to sell Holly Hobbie as the former rather than the latter (of Emily's post). Pageboy hat Holly will never fly. Strawberry Shortcake? They haven't changed her much. She's selling like hotcakes. Children have always looked to their parents (not to put any pressure on y'all) more than anything. I like reading your blog, Emily. Keep keepin' it real.

Carey M.

emdunbar said...

thanks for reading & commenting, carey. the worst part of commercialization is the way I still, as an educated, thinking, deliberate person still see myself getting sucked in. I just bought new stylish yoga pants because I somehow feel I'll do yoga better and enjoy it more or maybe get fit faster if I'm not wearing my finely functioning regular-old sweats. a purchase is necessary to an experience or feeling. it's so stupid. let's start a commune and live out in the woods.