Friday, November 27, 2009

Adoption Apparel Translator

A funny, snarky post at Racialicious, originally published at iBastard, "translating" some of the slogans popular on clothing for adopted kids:

I was adopted in what has come to be called the Baby Scoop Era, the period between the end of World War II and Roe v. Wade when girls were girls, boys were boys, sex education was lacking and little white babies were plentiful. Adoption could be–and often was–kept secret back then, though thankfully my own adoptive parents did not try to pull such a selfish and nasty stunt. However, in any case it certainly was never advertised.

So it’s odd now to see adoptive parents dressing up their adopted children in clothes that proclaim the child’s adoptee status with messages like “I grew in Mommy’s heart!” or the appalling “Mommy’s Lil’ Guatling” (seriously, wtf?). Not that they should be ashamed, of course (there’s already enough bullshit shame in adoption), but when people go out of their way to say something, there’s usually more to it than the literal message. There’s a metamessage (the message behind the message itself) or subtext of some kind.

Discourse on adoption is just loaded with metamessages and subtext, so we here at International Bastard Machines have been working on new translation technology to sniff ‘em out. Today we are proud to announce the first test run of our Adoption Apparel Translator, a device that parses adoption slogans on baby clothes and teases out the subtle messages adoptive parents are really trying to send.
I hadn't seen the "Imported from China" one before, but have long had a strong dislike for the "Made in China, Loved in America" slogan, beloved of many adoptive parents (click here to read a whole slew of them defending the shirt). In a previous post about the book titled, Made in China, I described the slogan thus: "very high yuck factor in terms of objectification/ commodification, with the added assumption that no one loved these girls in China." At least the "Imported from China" slogan only objectifies and commodifies . . . . Sigh.


Wendy said...

I have never understood why anyone would think these are cute (or appropriate) let alone purchase one! Geez.

Louanne said...

agreed. i don't like those map of china ultrasound ones either.

Anonymous said...

i am on a group of waiting parents and they justified the "made in china" tshirt to no end. i was in the minority. they couldn't make the connection between the t and the commodification aspect. could. not.

Andrea said...

OK..I have NEVER purchased one of these things..I just think they are tacky... but I did find one that said
I HAD to buy it. We have friends who are film and television actors and they SCREAMED when they saw it..& then went home and purchased one in every color for their daughter. I am not really sure why i felt like that one was OK..I guess I felt like it gave my little son a little TUDE' when he wore it.;)

Michal said...

Sometimes I think that we are ALL waaaaayyyy to sensitive about this stuff. I mean come on. I am not sure that any one who buys these shirts and puts them on their kids have any reason but thinking that the shirts are cute and funny and a bit of "in your face" for all of those looky lou's out there.
Now, personally I hate the Made In China stuff but I have been known to long for a "Jiangxi Girl" shirt once in a blue moon. I have never purchased one however- something always holds me back.

I once saw a dude with the words "Git R Done" tatooed on his arm - let's talk about that.

Great post.