Hilltown Families Counteracts Commercialization via Creativity

Empowerment by Art: Hilltown Families Checks Commercial Fashion

“We had a great time! My son is wearing his shirt with pride right now at an evening event at his school,” texted Helen Kahn of Florence, MA.

In the wake of JCPenney’s “I’m too pretty to do homework” and Forever 21 “Allergic to Algebra” t-shirt debacle, this past Friday Western MA families came together to pushback against commercial fashion and corporate marketers in the Hilltown Families event, “I Am Not A Billboard!”

Presented by Hilltown Families and hosted by The Art Garden, a newly formed non-profit in Shelburne Falls, grandparents to toddlers came together from Charlemont to Northampton to make their own fashion statement by designing and decorating t-shirts with their own words and images. Slogans like “Science Rocks,” “Girls Rule,” and images of peace were drawn, sewn & painted in a successful intergenerational event!

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“With children’s clothes often donning corporate symbols and slogans, our kids are made into walking billboards for big corporations,” says Sienna Wildfield, Founding Director of Hilltown Families. “Fashion is just one of the many avenues corporate marketers utilize to market their brands to children, surprisingly, at a very young age.  Allowing children to embellish their own clothes with symbols and words that celebrate their individuality and intelligence is just one simple way families can counteract commercialization while fostering creativity and expressiveness.

“Messages that communicate values on physical appearance, consumerism and gender stereotypes to our children are pervasive,” says Jess Kuttner, LICSW, Psychotherapist and mother of two boys. “The recent news of t-shirts sold by JCPenny with the slogan, ‘I’m too pretty to do homework, so my brother has to do it for me,’ is one example of how empty and degrading values are being marketed to our children.  Is it any wonder that there are epidemic numbers of kids and teens who bully each other and numb themselves with video games, TV, food and drugs? Giving children the opportunity to create their own t-shirts is a proactive way to counter corporate and negative messages while helping children focus on what is unique about themselves on a deeper level.

Big thank you to ❤ The Art Garden for hosting this event, to ❤ Country Pie Pizza of Ashfield for donating pizza for our pizza party, and to all the ❤ amazing families who came together to empower their kids and themselves through art!

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