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Silly Bandz: Cute Trend or Vast Global Conspiracy?

Silly Bandz: Cute Trend or Vast Global Conspiracy?

What would childhood be without illogical fads and manias? Since well before the Zhu Zhu Pet, Webkins, and Tickle Me Elmo there was the Cabbage Patch Doll, the Rubik’s Cube, and Beanie Babies, and before that there was the exemplary consumer trend of the Hula Hoop.


Hudsucker Proxy Hula Hoop Scene

Needless to say, as long as children hold an innate and irrepressible desire to have and consume, there will be marketers out there willing to exploit this phenomenon. It is difficult to clearly say whether it is simply a desire on the child’s behalf to simply fit in with one’s peers, or if there is some pleasure receptor that is tweaked or unlocked in the premature brain that just informs the child, without equivocation, that it is something that must be had.

Either way, the latest specious trend in the universe of children would have to be Silly Bandz (spelled with a “z” to make them all the more novel and appealing). These are silicone bands (near identical to rubber bands) that come in a variety of neon-like colors and animal-like and fantasy shapes (think princesses, baseball players, rock star silhouettes, etc). Now regular rubber bands just don’t have the same appeal for children (despite their problematic, and impressive, ability to roundly cut off the circulation to hands and fingers and turn them all shades of violet and blue) as Silly Bandz do. This is in large part to the way these bands stretch and neatly snap back into their prescribed shape, as well as the appealing colors and the ability to make this toy totally portable (most often worn on the wrist) and easily tradable – therefore making them somewhat of a schoolyard commodity.

Each package of 24 Silly Bandz goes for about $5, and makes for some seriously lively conversation between over-excited, and sometimes overindulged, adolescents (no word yet whether this is a fad exclusive to girls). The fashion of the day dictates that your arms should be heavy with Silly Bandz running up and down the length of your forearm; easily ready to whip off and trade when the moment is right. Understandably, many school districts around the country are just now beginning to ban the wearing and trading of these Silly Bandz, as they have become way too distracting (not to mention they have engendered a little micro economy among students).

Without a doubt this trend will blow over before you could say, “I lost my Silly Bandz Unicorn!” and this particular trend is fairly benign, as well as affordable, compared to some trends of years past. However, short of looking directly into the brains of little consumers, why is it that our children are so susceptible and defenseless when it comes to these sorts of fads, trends and viral marketing? Is this simply an exploitation of some reptilian part of their brain that they have not yet figured out how to regulate? Is this good clean fun that we should passively encourage, or is this the first step along the slippery slope that leads to wanton and reckless consumerism?

Read more: Children, Family, Fashion, Parenting at the Crossroads, Smart Shopping, , , , , , ,

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.

119 comments

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8:33AM PDT on Sep 20, 2012

Thank you!

2:10AM PDT on Jun 21, 2012

Every generation has something silly and relatively cheap that children collect. Try and figure out what a gogo is as the child enthuses over these misshapen, oddly colored plastic pieces of junk. Oh well.

10:08PM PDT on Jun 19, 2012

well, I guess this trend is over now (at least around here) but trends start and end based on many factors, whether we like them or not (think pants worn lowwwww....). I think there is little we can do to stop them once they take off. Unless they post a real danger, what cha' gonna do but stand by and wait? You can try opening a conversation around what this looks like, the issues that may have started this, the ways it affects people....but otherwise, we are just standing by as the wind blows through

9:13PM PDT on Jun 19, 2012

thanx

4:21PM PDT on Jun 19, 2012

???

1:36PM PDT on Jun 19, 2012

"short of looking directly into the brains of little consumers, why is it that our children are so susceptible and defenseless when it comes to these sorts of fads, trends and viral marketing?"
Seriously? Look around, overindulgence of useless fads isn't limited to children. Case in point: shoes. discuss.

"Is this simply an exploitation of some reptilian part of their brain that they have not yet figured out how to regulate?"
Again, seriously?

12:01PM PDT on Jun 19, 2012

Thank you

10:48AM PDT on Jun 19, 2012

I've often wondered about this interesting question. I have matured into a sense of responsibility and therefore (partial) asceticism, but if someone had tried to tell me, when I was 6, that I wouldn't be getting whatever latest knickknack come Christmas, I would not have understood AT ALL and most probably would have thrown a fit. Is this because I was born in an affluent nation and wanted what my peers had, or because I was 6? There's no way to determine for sure because there's no control group: who's to say which is the "natural" or "normal" situation for a child to be born into, affluent or poverty-stricken?

7:38AM PDT on Jun 19, 2012

I'm sure it's all a conspiracy.

5:50AM PDT on Jun 19, 2012

Initially, they seemed a rather useless thing to collect. But then I realized that they could be nice wine glass markers. Maybe it's a conspiracy to lower the drinking age.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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