This Sunday marks the 62nd annual “Friendship Day,” another make-believe holiday designed to entice the public into buying all sorts of merchandise that is supposed to make us feel better about ourselves and the world in general.
Promoters of this event have chosen A.A. Milne’s cuddly little fuzzy, all-stuffed-with-fluff Winnie the Pooh and his buddies as symbols of international goodwill.
Peace and friendship are not bad ideas. Actually, they are probably a couple of the better notions promoted today. But attempting to achieve this end by means of a commercial venture is disturbing.
The stores are jam-packed with clothing and accessories, everything from shorts and sweaters to backpacks and pencil pouches, trimmed with Pooh Bear, Tigger and Piglet.
These outfits and accessories are adorable on the younger set. And if they should somehow help children understand the need for more love and friendship in the world, we will all benefit.
But an alarming trend has developed. Children aren’t the only ones wearing this merchandise. Adults have picked up on the fad, too.
Grown men and women are buying items for themselves featuring Pooh romping with his friends through the 100 Acre Wood. On 5-year-olds these items look cute. On 45-year-olds they look silly.
As a general rule of thumb, if you are old enough to vote, you should not rely on storybook characters to make your fashion statement.
It’s OK to have an accessory or two - say a lapel pin or a T-shirt - decorated with the likeness of your favorite cartoon character, but for adults to base their wardrobes on childhood fantasies seems just plain weird.
This opinion is not shared by everyone.
Sharon Underwood, a Spokane psychologist, says it is not unhealthy for adults to wear clothing or own other items depicting childhood images.
“They may, in fact, be attempting to return to a time of innocence, when they were children and life was less hassled,” says Underwood. “As long as these people act in a responsible adult manner in other areas of their lives, this is probably nothing to cause concern.”
But if we allow this trend to continue, where will it end? The next thing you know, Grandpa will want Hercules boxer shorts, Aunt Edna will be wearing a 101 Dalmatians swimsuit to the beach, and Ford will come out with the Power Rangers package for their Explorer.
We have to draw the line somewhere.
Be kind to your neighbors, lend a helping hand to a stranger, smile as you pass people on the street. If you insist on participating in this Winnie the Pooh craze, do so by reading the book to a child.
However, if you are old enough to buy beer, you are too old to wear a jumper decorated with Pooh and his friends to the grocery store when you make the purchase.