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  • Ella Noonan

'Tis the Season to Exploit Young Children - The Tale of the £50 Advent Calendar

The air is crisp, god awful mothball-scented snowflake patterned jumpers begin to surface from the backs of the wardrobes, snap-chats become laden with shots of ginger bread lattes, and pop-up ice rinks seem to appear in every shopping centre and open outdoor space physically possible. It's the run up to Christmas and isn't it just magical!? I don't mean to sound like a complete scrooge; the pretty lights and the stalls selling mulled wine are certainly a pleasant way to take the edge off the fact it's actually minus 5 degrees, however the older I get, the more I begin to realise the slightly sinister and bleak nature of all the festivities.

It's as though the moment Halloween is finished it's out with the ghosts and ghouls and in with the roasts and market stalls. It creeps up on you as if it came out of no where, all of a sudden stores are bombarded with Christmas paraphernalia and you feel an overwhelming pressure to start buying gifts to avoid the surge of last minute shoppers if you leave it too late.

I'm at an age where sadly it's no longer as simple as circling 150, pink, plastic items in the Argos catalogue and patiently waiting to find a large selection of them under the tree on Christmas day. I now actually have to buy something for each one of my family members, it's poor timing on my student loan's behalf and perhaps my mum could have been a touch more considerate to my wallet when deciding to have such a large family. I realise my complaints are in vain and I certainly don't envy my parents position who are faced with gifting all five of us with multiple presents on top of our Christmas dinner where that meat alone probably costs more than my soul. Christmas day for me is a very enjoyable affair and I know I'm very fortunate in that sense. I make a conscious effort not to think about how I'll cope when I'm a fully fledged adult who has to pay for necessities like a house and living essentials on top of providing the latest consoles and dolls to the fruit of my womb as soon as December hits. I'm sure this is a fear that will become more and more real as the years go by, only now is it dawning on me how irritating it must have been when a young me would sit screaming " I WANT THAT" at virtually every advert for any children toy in existence at the time. I see it now at home, my 8 year old sister is just as sucked in by the girls who look suspiciously older than they're pretending to be, playing with the latest all singing, all dancing, glitziest, shiniest, Barbie doll yet. Year after year they churn out new versions of the same things with increasingly more bizarre features each time; from barbies with pooing dogs, to pooing Baby Annabelle's, the possibilities are endless.

Although I've managed to escape the madness so far by living in halls and not having a TV to watch all the hideous adverts, there is one festive bit of tat that has managed to catch my eye along with thousands of others who are equally as confused. "Go on, what is it?" I hear you all ask. Well wait for it... It's none other than the Zoella 12 Days of Christmas Advent Calendar (the title of this article was probably a giveaway). I mean the name alone is already an eyebrow raiser, don't get me wrong, I'm no collector of advent calendars so maybe my thoughts are skewed however personally in my 21 years of life I couldn't help but notice Christmas calendars tend to have 24 or sometimes even 25 windows. Am I wrong? Didn't think so. Ah well it's fine, I'm sure this just means that the gifts that are included will be of a higher quality and that it shouldn't cost a great deal. Nope. This time I am wrong. At £50 with nothing to show for it other than 12 Poundland-esque items such as stickers and cookie cutters, one is simply left astounded and appalled at what on earth is going on. I appreciate Donald trump is still president, Brexit happened, and Paris Hilton has a clothing line in Lidl- so yes, weirder things have happened. Nonetheless, it's still profoundly baffling that something so crap could cost so much despite only being HALF an advent calendar.

Other than the blindingly obvious fact that the product is obscenely overpriced, it's genuinely frustrating that the contents is of such a poor quality. I appreciate there was bound to be a team of people between Zoella's agents and the people at Boots who decided on the price, not her personally. However if you're going to put your name on a product aimed at your fan base who are aged approximately 5-16 years old, surely you'd have the common decency not to so blatantly take the piss? I'm sure she wasn't anticipating quite the backlash she's received however she must be capable of taking a step back and realising that it currently looks as though she's exploiting her young fans who will ask their parents to fork out £50 on an advent calendar that is hardly even worth £15.

The fact that it has one and a half stars on Boots says it all really, with customers even saying they wish they could have given it no stars. There is a part of me that wants to ridicule and mock the people foolish enough to spend £50 on it in the first place given that it only has 12 windows and the contents is listed on the packaging. But that's what makes this whole thing so infuriating, most of the people who bought the calendars won't have even wanted to buy it in the first place. They will have succumbed to their children's desperation and excitement towards the product that's being promoted by their favourite YouTuber. Because it's incredibly difficult to deny a child something they want especially when it's endorsed by someone they idolise. It's no secret that kids get upset when their parents won't buy them something and the people behind the marketing of the calendar will be fully aware that parents will essentially be guilt tripped into paying.

Personally I've not really been one for watching YouTuber's and on the odd occasion I did come across the likes of a Zoella video, I can't say it was really my cup of tea. This said she's done undeniably well for herself, with over 12 million subscribers there's no question that what she's been doing has been working. I just feel that when someone has such a large following especially when they are predominantly young girls, there is a level of responsibility to act as a role model that comes with that. She's yet to speak out on the matter but with the amount of a stir it's caused, there's no way she can hold her tongue for much longer and I for one am interested to see how she'll get out of this one.


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