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Back To School Week: The Extreme Tackiness Of Character Book Bags

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Batman Book BagBarbie. Spiderman. Princesses. Fairies. Transformers.

Parents, you’ve seen the book bags. They look cheap. They have that shiny plastic veneer covering their licensed cartoon character. They have bright red or blue zippers that will break within weeks of buying them. There’s never any convenient pockets, just one big space where your children will wad up everything they need to bring home. They are the bane of stylish parents everywhere.

I’ve already talked about my daughter’s love of branded merchandise. No matter how hard I try to convince her otherwise, she lives for Wolverine t-shirts and Barbie necklaces. I try to keep her “walking billboard” status to a minimum, but I’m not always resilient enough. I’m pretty sure she’s sleeping in Buzz Lightyear pajamas as I type this. I’ve really lost the battle when it comes to keeping her away from all character-influenced clothing.

But damned if I will be made to give in to those cheap, tacky book bags.

There are adorable book bags out there, that look stylish and inventive. A quick click over to Pottery Barn Kids has some cute patterns and fun designs, though even they have begun to let the characters encroach. (And we would never, ever put our child’s name on their backpack. Right parents? We know this.) I still love MadPax’s Spiketus Rex backpack that came out last year and looks completely awesome. I know that better book bags exist.

To me, those character backpacks represent the very worst of branded products. They’re horrible quality, and yet people buy them because there’s a smiling cartoon princess on them. To my daughter, they represent her allegiance. They’re like a calling card to the other kids at school. In the case of her desired back, they show that she’s deeply devoted to the Caped Crusader. (That’s Batman, by the way.)

My daughter and I are at an impasse. Sure, I could just refuse to buy her the thing. It’s my money after all. I’m aware that it’s an option. But I really don’t want to fight with her over a book bag. It seems like a waste of the, “Because I said so.” After all, this isn’t a question of actual appropriate attire. It’s really a matter of taste. Would I let her wear a mini-skirt and sleeveless top because she really wanted to? Absolutely not. Will I possibly give in on a superhero book bag? The jury is still out.

I’ve considered allowing her to pick her first cheap backpack. The thing is guaranteed to bust within the first couple months. I’ll buy it on the condition that I purchase the next one.

Now I feel like I’m sneaking behind my own daughter’s back. That’s a little low. I’m hoping that her choice will fail quickly.

But those things are just so tacky, guys. I can’t be the only one bothered by this, right? I can’t be the only one who walks in to Toys R Us and it’s wall-o-backpacks and is amazed at the extreme cheapness and lack of taste on display. The cast of characters from Disney’s XD just stares down at me, daring me to question their position. My daughter is swooning over Justin Bieber. By the way, when did she learn who he is?

No, I’m still not just sure how we’ll settle the war of book bags. I don’t know if my daughter will walk down the halls with Batman, or a Spiketus Rex. She’s definitely not going for that adorable giraffe print I found. But I do know that this won’t be the last time I question her taste. It won’t be the last time I lament about the cheap manufacturing and questionable materials. And it won’t be the last time I lose the battle to characters she’s seen on TV and movies. Here’s hoping the thing busts quickly.

(Photo: Target)