Hello Kitty: Where Were You When I Needed You?

We’ve weathered the princess storm fairly well, and I believe the eye of the storm has passed.   Like a lover that you only truly get over once there is a new one, the princess phase fades as my daughter embarks on a new love affair with an international object of affection.  This new love is a Japanese bobtail cat who is a British citizen but a creation of Japan (see Wikipedia), where she is known as Kitty White or Kitty Chan.

You, however, may know her as Hello Kitty.

Suddenly, she’s everywhere in my life.  My daughter can spot Hello Kitty merch from seven aisles away.  We needed a new bathing suit, so she begged for a HK one.   There is literally no subject to which Sadie doesn’t work in a HK reference.  “Sadie, what do you want for dinner?”  “A Hello Kitty quesadilla,” she says.  In return I say, “What in the Hell(o Kitty) are you talking about?”

It appears that my female offspring has inherited my inclination toward the obsessive and the compulsive.  (Actually, my male offspring has too, which means I have to figure out how to make HK and Spiderman dinners.)  When it was time to engage in some recreational face-painting at my daughter’s preschool, she bee-lined for the “artist” who promised to transform her into Hello Kitty.  I was actually all for that because my personal favorite feature of HK is that she does not have a mouth.  “Sadie, you can’t talk if you don’t have a mouth.  Also? No whining or crying or screaming.”

Initially, I embraced all things HK—in part because of the sheer relief of being away from the overly-cleavaged Belle, Ariel, Tiana, and What’s-Her-Names.  It was also nostalgic.   I remember when I begged my mother for some HK erasers and pencils back in 1979.  HK had only arrived in the US in 1976, so she wasn’t plastered on every damn thing a child could touch yet.  I had to scrounge for HK trinkets.

I have explained the deprivation I grew up with to Sadie.  “When I was a little girl, there were no HK Band-aids or midriff tops.” Under my breath, I may have said, “HK wasn’t such a slut back then.”

It’s not that I miss the princesses, because at least I don’t have to contend with HK’s heaving bosom.  I also can’t credibly object to the consumerism because your friend Outlaw Mama likes to shop it up.  My objection to HK is that she wasn’t there for me when I needed her, but now my daughter can have breakfast on HK plates, take her HK water bottle in her HK backback to school and then come home and waste some HK band-aids on some imaginary boo-boos and then sink into her HK pajamas and cuddle under her HK blanket.

How is that fair?

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40 thoughts on “Hello Kitty: Where Were You When I Needed You?

  1. We made a rule a while back: “blood owies” get fancy band-aids. Otherwise, suck it up with the fleshtones, kid. (Warning: may lead to self-mutilation in desperate cases.) Hello Kitty has always freaked me out precisely because there is NO mouth! How can she have a bow but be unable to talk? I mean, if you want to get really really compulsive, what kind of message is that? : )

  2. so true! where is the excitement when you have branded everything! when i was younger i loved loved bestsy clark (I actually collected stationary) and snoopy stuff. getting a new piece was akin to a day off of school. such joy.. and everyone was so jealous. now it’s all same same, too much of a good, is not a good thing.

  3. HK could only be found at nicer department stores back in my day. A cute little display in the “7-14” clothing department. I loved the itty bitty phone book and note pad with the itty bittiest skinniest pencil that couldn’t really be sharpened. Don’t worry HK is a short-lived phase. Mine are way too old for her now. Now that they won’t choke on those little items. Maybe you (they…not you…you can hide in the pantry with the giid snacks) can play HK meets Spidey. I don’t think either have mouths. They can just mime at each other.

  4. I grew up in the 80s and had a Hello Kitty washcloth that changed color in hot water, which was AWESOME. I used that thing EVERY bathtime until the color-change magic died and it was a blotchy purple rag.

    I also had enough Rainbow Brite, Strawberry Shortcake, and My Little Pony paraphernalia that I could have made a killing on eBay in this decade if I’d kept it all in good condition, but that’s another story. 🙂

  5. I, too, was thrilled when daughter graduated from princesses to HK. And I remember getting so excited & begging my mom for the little HK mini sticker books, pencil & paper set, etc. in the 70s. I think b/c all the stuff is everywhere now, it makes it less special. Definite overexposure. Did you ever go to that store in Dallas called Over the Rainbow?? It was in that shopping center at Preston & Royal. They had Hello Kitty, as well as shoelaces with school names on them, and every sticker known to man for your sticker collection. And paint pens!

  6. Oh HK was a treasured item in my childhood. I had a friend who was from Japan and she somehow got the coolest HK stuff. I remember a HK pencil I adored. Not only did it feature smiling HKs in different colors, but if you rubbed it, the sweet smell of strawberry would waft out. HK was much cooler in our day. And now she’s just a slut at Macy’s.

    Unfortunately, HK worship isn’t limited to adorable preschoolers. I just bought my 21 year old a HK cookie jar.

  7. This post could not have come at a better time, as we sit here awaiting the arrival of my almost-3-year-old daughter’s new Big Girl bedroom set. Guess what the theme will be? From the decals, to the toy box, the sheets, AND the bedding, that little feline will be all over my daughter’s bedroom. My only worry is that she’ll change her mind in 6 months and decide she wants a My Little Pony or Princess room, and we’ll be mourning the small fortune we have invested into Hello Kitty.

    PS: Consider yourself lucky that your in laws don’t buy her a stuffed Hello Kitty every single week. Mine do. :-/

  8. This was hilarious. I remember when you could only get Hello Kitty stuff at the Sanrio store (or as I called it, the Hello Kitty Store). It was after they started doing all the tie-in characters, so it wasn’t really cool to like HK, but you could like the Sanrio frog (which was my sister’s favorite and therefore off limits to me) or, my personal favorite, Chococat, and still be considered socially acceptable. Why Chococat? Because chocolate, delicious, and cat, adorable, together in one lovely and expressive combination. I’ll take one of everything in Chococat.

  9. The bandaid thing must be a 3 yr old passion. We have imaginary boo boo’s on every doll & stuffed animal in our house ! AND for the record, I just put Gabi’s HK doll in a trashbag in the spare closet….. Hopefully, that doesn’t mean I’m a bad mama, but we just had WAY too many stuffed animals laying around. So far, she hasn’t noticed!

  10. I have the same feelings when I go shopping for my niece. All the toys and clothes and everything are so much better now than they were back when we were little. Although, we never passed through the princess/Barbie/Hello Kitty phase. My sisters and I played school and office, and could never get enough pens and pads. Hashtag nerd alert?

  11. And the one day it will be One Direction . . . We are in tween land!! (I do have some awesome bandaids that say “Shitstorm.” Pop one of those on your kid’s knee, send her off to her private school, and watch what happens.)

  12. We are all things Angry Birds, all the time. What do you want for dinner? Birds. That doesn’t even make sense. He just says birds in response to every question. Only the AB shirts and PJs are worn. Everything is about birds. I guess it’s better than SpongeBob, but I don’t really know for sure.

    I remember HK from when I was a kid. There was a HK store near where I grew up. Sadie would have loved it.

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