March 23, 2014

I’ve hit a wall.  I’ve mustered up enthusiasm for Moshi Monsters, Pokemon cards and World Cup football stickers, but there is nothing in a Zelf which I can extol at all.  It is very likely you haven’t heard of Zelfs.  Neither had I.  I thought they were some kind of photo of oneself. But no, they are actually resurrected and rebranded (slightly) trolls from the 1980s.  I can see why they have been rebranded given the negative associations with trolls (although, that said, when did trolls ever have positive associations?)  But there is a very good reason why they died a death.  There is nothing to them.  They are bits of wincingly cute pastel-coloured animal-type figures with the colour hair you never find in the natural world.  Activities involve: brushing their hair, forking out £6 to acquire another one, trying to have more than your friends.  That’s it.

The marketing gurus at Moose, the Aussie company which has imposed these vile bits of tat on us, have created a backstory for each Zelf (ours are Series 4 so it’s possible others don’t consider them anathema as I do).  These vignettes include such gems as the one created for Galexia, the Galaxy Zelf, who loves putting on a show and whose Zelf Power is ‘Aim for the Stars’. Or consider the Pharoah Zelf (I’m not won over by the token historical reference here) whose power is Glamour, ‘Glam yourself up and feel like a queen’ – such a helpful thought for girls in the grip of impossibly idealistic expectations imposed on them by social media sites.  Bring back Moshi Monsters with the wit of the moshlings Dustbin Bieber and Irish O’Really.

I won’t impose any more of these Zelfs on you.  My point is that I felt I had to put my foot down with my 9 year old (the clue was possibly in the fact that I couldn’t find any Zelfs because they were in the pre-school part of the shop) and say that I just couldn’t enter into the world of Zelfs with her.  They have absolutely nothing to recommend them.  Ok, so she isn’t looking at a screen when she’s playing with them, but there must be better uses of her pocket money.

But am I wrong?  She wants to have Zelfs because having moved home and school she wants to fit in with her new friends who, intelligent and lovely as they seem to be, are currently embracing their own mini-craze for Zelfs.  I’ve let her buy a few so she doesn’t feel left out but I feel that perhaps Zelf-gate is the moment I start preparing her for the fact friends may have things she doesn’t – such as a mobile phone contract.  (Who were the other 9 year olds texting at the sleepover she was at on Saturday night??)  Surely the fact she has her Daddy’s old iPhone to play on her Sonos music system in her room balances out the lack of ability to text people she’ll see at school the next day?

Is this the beginning of the end of showing enthusiasm for whatever interests her?  Will it all descend into, ‘you’re not wearing that, you look ridiculous,’ and ‘you can unfriend him on Facebook for a start’?  I can see why acquiring the odd Zelf is important to her, and I’ve been complicit in such acquisitions, but I’m banking on this craze being over by Easter.  Perhaps Zelfs do have a purpose after all, as an object lesson in what marketing gurus can sell as long as they give it pseudo-human qualities, pink hair and a zelf-centred obsession with personal fulfilment.  Or am I possibly reading too much into all of this?

PS. If anyone knows how to resize images in WordPress, please let me know!  Every time I post something, which isn’t very often, they’ve changed how the images work.


2 Responses to “Zelf-obsessed”

  1. Jane Frazer Says:

    Goodness, there really is nothing new under the sun!
    I think you are on safe ground that Zelfs will not last long, but also its not the possession itself but the fact that you are joining in with everyone else that matters.


  2. esther247 Says:

    Aw, I think they’re cute! But it’s a matter of taste. You don’t have to be enthusiastic, Claire. Let her have her own likes and dislikes which are nothing to do with you. Of course you are providing the cash with which she buys this tat…. at six pounds a throw? Good grief! So…. give her a set amount of weekly pocket money to spend however she likes, absolutely her own choice, and leave it at that. If it only buys her a quarter of a Zelf (!) and she wants ten, too bad. If she chooses to buy a book rather than a Zelf you may be quietly thrilled, but objectively it makes no difference – her money, her choice. Just my opinion! I know not everyone shares my view on allowing hard earned money to be “wasted” in this way. But fundamentally, what’s this about? Materialism? Or your daughter making choices which are different from those that you would have her make? Welcome to one of the toughest aspects of parenting! (And it’s only going to get worse….!) You’ve done well to get this far if this is the first time you’ve had to face this challenge! 😉 Good luck! Esther xx


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