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October 26, 2010 3:30 PM   Subscribe

Where Children Sleep: Children's bedrooms from around the world
posted by goo (51 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
Is it bad that I feel most sorry for the kids who're from industrialised nations, rather than the poverty stricken ones?

I mean - the poor kids can't help their situation, whereas the dumbass parents of the 'western' kids (yes, I'm talking about you, father-of-Joey-from-Kentucky and mother-of-'Jazzy'-from-(also?)-Kentucky) are actively destroying their child's childhood.
posted by metaxa at 3:42 PM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm only on #2 and I want to kill people.
posted by mudpuppie at 3:43 PM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Indira has worked at the local granite quarry since she was three.

That's one doozy of a sentence.
posted by theodolite at 3:44 PM on October 26, 2010 [13 favorites]


Douha has a poster of Mohammed on her wall.

Uh...
posted by phunniemee at 3:44 PM on October 26, 2010


I think it meant her brother Mohammed, the suicide bomber.

Fascinating. I could have looked at 100 of these, at least.
posted by CheeseLouise at 3:47 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Since you can see the poster in the picture, yes, her brother.
posted by maryr at 3:48 PM on October 26, 2010


Very manipulative! I think I will make my children eat garbage tonight, just to show them! Thanks for posting!
posted by KokuRyu at 3:50 PM on October 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


Very manipulative!

The truth hurts.
posted by hermitosis at 3:53 PM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Nantio is hoping a moran (warrior) will select her for marriage. She has a boyfriend now, but it is not unusual for a Rendille woman to have several boyfriends before marriage. First, she will have to undergo circumcision, as is the custom.

Urge...to kill...rising...
posted by Gator at 3:57 PM on October 26, 2010


You have to wonder how typical these are. They do their credibility no good by finding the two strangest children's rooms in Kentucky. Are the Kentucky kids as representative of their peers as some of the other kids are? I sure hope so.

For the record, the Brazilian girl has the most typical room for a North American in my opinion. .
posted by Keith Talent at 3:58 PM on October 26, 2010 [11 favorites]


Jazzy is creepy. Is she on the kid beauty pageant circuit? The male kid from KY looks like he has a beard. I don't know where this whole "kids need their own rooms" comes from. I'd actually thought kids shared rooms in the US until I started watching TV shows not based in the fifties and sixties.
posted by anniecat at 4:00 PM on October 26, 2010


I was going to share this with my recently-turned twelve-year-old son, just home from school, when I hit the "she will have to be circumcised" part and thought, "Do I want to have this discussion now?" Still, these sorts of photo essays, a la "Material World" are always interesting to me, even when the inevitable voyeuristic part makes me squeamish.
posted by emhutchinson at 4:01 PM on October 26, 2010


These were fascinating and heartbreaking. But it seems to me that all of them were "extreme" in some manner. There are so many kids that live like Indira or the anonymous homeless boy, but contrasting them with the extreme other side of the coin (Jazzy/Kaya/Joey) just makes the comparison feel forced to me. Wouldn't it make more sense to also show what I would think of as "normal" kids in the US or Europe? Thais from Brazil was the only one even close, but the City of God location makes her life sort of extreme as well.

If the intent of the book is to show inequity to kids, first giving them examples that they can relate to and then contrasting them with poor kids in other places would seem like a more useful strategy. IMHO anyway.
posted by gemmy at 4:03 PM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


These were fascinating and heartbreaking. But it seems to me that all of them were "extreme" in some manner.

Of course they were - "typical" is boring, and boring doesn't get page views. "Modern" nations have crazy kids with crazy parents, nations with impoverished populations are in tragic situations, literally living on top of trash. Toss in one "normal" looking room to balance it all, and you're not taking an overly extreme look at things (really!).
posted by filthy light thief at 4:10 PM on October 26, 2010


I almost feel bad for Jazzy, because her appearance in this book is the single cruelest thing that anyone could ever say about her. No name-calling can equal the shame of being that child, in this contrast.

I do not, however, feel bad for Joey and/or his parents. It says right there that he hunts to eat, and does not kill for sport. I knew plenty of boys who grew up with rooms decorated like that, and by and large they make decent husbands and fathers, and are kind to animals, too.

It chilled the blood to see the last sentence of beautiful Nantio's description.
posted by Countess Elena at 4:12 PM on October 26, 2010 [9 favorites]


I might add, though, that the poor kids could have benefited from a less Save-the-Children lens on their faces. Although I can't give you the link, there was a good MeFi thread about the contrast between photography of rural Africans by NGOs, and photography with the expressions and accoutrements chosen by the subjects themselves. Which is to say -- Roathy has a rough time of it, but I bet he doesn't think of himself as the Trash Bag Boy.
posted by Countess Elena at 4:14 PM on October 26, 2010 [8 favorites]


When I look at the picture from Cambodia, I instinctively think to myself, "OK, I learned a little about life in Cambodia." But then I look at the pictures from the United States, and I realize that if someone in Cambodia, or England, or wherever, looked at those pictures and said to themselves, "OK, I learned a little about life in the United States," they would be seriously misled.
posted by escabeche at 4:15 PM on October 26, 2010 [15 favorites]


I don't know where this whole "kids need their own rooms" comes from. I'd actually thought kids shared rooms in the US until I started watching TV shows not based in the fifties and sixties.

People get on my case all the time, including my husband and his family, because I don't believe that my daughters need separate rooms (now, or frankly while they're both under my roof). Sometimes my mother-in-law makes excuses for me when the subject comes up, like "well, I'm sure it's easier for you to supervise the cleaning of only one room while they're so young" and I'm like, Yeah, that's a bonus, but the reality is that they'll have separate rooms over my dead body. I don't care what year it is or that it's America. And even if they were of opposite genders, they'd be sharing a room for a few years yet.
posted by padraigin at 4:16 PM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


The girl from Brazil is the only one that strikes me as remotely "normal" for first world standards. The two kids from Kentucky are hypergendered extremes, the little doll/girl from Tokyo has passed absurd and gone straight on to inexcusably ridiculous. The chubby Jewish boy is all about making a statement regarding freedom of expression and movement. One suspects a certain level of manipulation in the choice to photograph him and not his siblings.

So this begs the question, how out of the ordinary is the Brazilian girl? If her room seems normal to me, someone basically from the upper middle class of the USA's east coast, what does an un-editorialized, "regular" Brazilian girl's room look like?
posted by Mizu at 4:19 PM on October 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


I agree about the choice of extreme examples to some extent, but Dong the lad from Yunnan had a fairly typical rural home for a more remote and poorer area and I thought the girl from the Brazilian shanty town appeared ordinary enough (with no experience there bar having seen City of God and the sequel).
posted by Abiezer at 4:22 PM on October 26, 2010


This photo essay only shows excerpts from a 120-page book (via Amazon). That means either the rest of the book shows more representative cases and the media picked the most extreme examples, or the author really went out of his way to find the most fucked-up situations. And I can totally see there being 100+ unique examples. Sadly.
posted by Menomena at 4:24 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I agree with gemmy: the extreme nature of these examples does indeed make the comparisons seem forced. A few more average examples from the US and Japan (I mean, really, Kaya's mom is over the top, Jazzy's mom and/or dad is over the top) would have made for a much more realistic and well-rounded presentation. Not to mention kids from places like Nepal and elsewhere who are not living in absolute grinding poverty. By presenting almost nothing but extremes, the photoessay is emotionally manipulative in an obvious and ham-fisted way.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:24 PM on October 26, 2010


Oops, reading mizu's comment and TFA again, they live in a block of flats in the neighbourhood, not the shanties. Thought it was pretty impressive interior decor if the latter was the case
posted by Abiezer at 4:26 PM on October 26, 2010


The girl in Brazil?

Canibal.

Now who's normal?
posted by blue_beetle at 4:27 PM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]




Oops, I meant to link to this one.
posted by Gator at 4:31 PM on October 26, 2010


I too was a bit startled by Joey's bedroom, but you know that family's going to have food on the table even if the economy slides completely into the abyss.
posted by crapmatic at 4:47 PM on October 26, 2010 [3 favorites]




interesting/sad info about Rendille circumcision (warning: graphic mutilation)
posted by melissam at 5:23 PM on October 26, 2010


If by "interesting/sad info about" you mean "GRAPHIC DESCRIPTION OF," then yes, that's what that is.
posted by Gator at 5:38 PM on October 26, 2010


If by "interesting/sad info about" you mean "GRAPHIC DESCRIPTION OF," then yes, that's what that is.

Guess I've already read about it before, but what's interesting is the social factors at play. Women say they want the procedure and that it's an important and special thing for them. But really they have no choice socially because an uncircumcised woman can't become an adult woman in their society.
posted by melissam at 5:50 PM on October 26, 2010


Yeah, it's just that graphic descriptions of the act can be serious triggers for some people, so a little warning on a link like that is courteous.
posted by Gator at 5:53 PM on October 26, 2010


Sorry Gator, I'll ask the Mods if they can mark that Graphic
posted by melissam at 6:13 PM on October 26, 2010


By the way, this really brought to mind the similar thread about a day's worth of food in different countries and cultures: What The World Eats.

I agree that I mostly get from this photoessay a sense of "there are lots of ways to live" but not any serious sense that "that's life in Kentucky/China/Brazil". And I can hardly show my kids these pictures to teach them anything valuable and lasting about inequality, because they won't know whether to cry because other little girls have to go to work at rock quarries or because other little girls have Strawberry Lolita dresses and they don't.
posted by padraigin at 6:30 PM on October 26, 2010


they'll have separate rooms over my dead body.

The thought of spending my peak masturbation years sharing a bedroom with a sibling fills me with horror and dread.
posted by smoke at 8:04 PM on October 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


My younger brother's room looked just like Joey's for as long as he could manage it. Right up to the "hide" under the bunk. No hunting there, just a very active member of army cadets. I'd mark him as average, in addition to the Brazilian girl. So there's that.
posted by Jilder at 8:40 PM on October 26, 2010


I can't relate to any of the US kids - and somehow I'm really relieved by that.
Meanwhile most of the kids just make me sad. No one should be working from age 3 or only look forward to having one meal a day.
posted by batgrlHG at 9:04 PM on October 26, 2010


This is not a "how kids live in different parts of the world" thing, this is "how different socio-economic classes live" thing. While the child labour and the used-tires-for-beds-in-Cambodia is a little extreme, there are wide variations in how kids live in Canada, the US, the UK or other developed countries.

Someone mentioned earlier "the truth hurts", but this Telegraph photoshoot is very far from the truth.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:21 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Here is where children from a comparatively middle-of-the-road economic background (and from the same general part of the world) sleep" just doesn't sound like a book anyone would want to make, or read for that matter.
posted by hermitosis at 9:35 PM on October 26, 2010


I do not understand what the purpose of this is.

I mean, it's just liberal-guilt-porn with no obvious explanation. And you're supposed to show it to your kids for some reason. Why? Why do you want your kids to "think about inequality"? What are they supposed to think about it? "Look, see the pretty princess? See how spoiled and pampered she is? That's you! You're a nasty, spoiled little brat too, and those other children live in squalor all because of you." Unless your child has done something wrong, I do not see the motivation for this lesson.

When imagery like this is paired with an advertisement for a charity or something to compel people to donate, it makes a certain amount of sense. But when the goal is solely to maintain a constant sense of ambient guilt in people from a young age, that's the point when I really start to understand why some young, impressionable people in our society might find Ayn Rand "refreshing" or even a "revelation".
posted by Xezlec at 9:37 PM on October 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


My son said, "Wow, those kids have some really cool tools!" And then "What, exactly, is circumcision?" No, I am not being flippant.
posted by emhutchinson at 9:49 PM on October 26, 2010


@Xeztec: I wouldn't say 'Jazzy' is a spoiled little princess. I'd say that she's a typical Americian kid who's having her childhood taken from her because her parents want to have a little pageant queen. When she becomes a teenager she'll probably hate her parents and ditch show business because it wasn't HER IDEA in the first place. (Yes, I've met kids like that, but in the singing / dancing business)

According to these photos, children in the first world live their parents' dreams, and children of the third world tries to survive as best as they can. Neither is ideal.

When I was a child I lived in a small run-down apartment, around 500sqft, with 3 other relatives. That was Hong Kong, it's considered part of the first world, and it was a pretty typical arrangement. If they put a picture of a Hong Kong child's room in there, it would probably look like that of the girl from Tokyo. Utterly unrealistic.
posted by Sallysings at 12:17 AM on October 27, 2010


I shared a room with my two brothers all through those critical years smoke mentions; it wasn't so bad and let's face it, early training in furtive hand-shandy skills puts you miles ahead of the rest of the perverts on public transport.
posted by Abiezer at 3:32 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I also noted that only the first two girls (Japan, US) appeared to be dressed up for a photograph and smiling. Wouldn't the other kids have liked to at least smooth down their hair and put on nice clothes? I can imagine that the boy at the Koran school works on the farm without a shirt, but I doubt that he does not own one and would probably have preferred to be wearing it.
posted by jb at 4:13 AM on October 27, 2010


I don't know any real kids like Jazzy. This is an exception, not a rule for little girls in America. Could the photographer have showed the bedroom of a kid living on a farm, or in Harlem or East LA. or even a typical lower middle class suburban child anywhere in the USA?
posted by mermayd at 4:44 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


the reality is that they'll have separate rooms over my dead body

I'm curious as to why this is an important issue for you.
posted by amro at 5:13 AM on October 27, 2010


Why do they locate the weirdest and the poorest and the most extreme, or so it seems. Where children sleep -- I'd like to see where normal children sleep around the world.
posted by foxinsocks at 8:26 AM on October 27, 2010


I'd bet if I did a poll in an average elementary classroom here in Duluth Minnesota, at least half the kids would say they share a room with a sibling. It's usually simply a factor of space/class. (We don't have a lot of McMansions here.)
posted by RedEmma at 9:20 AM on October 27, 2010


Thinking of the families I know here in this suburb of Seattle, sharing bedrooms is perfectly normal. Maybe half the kids do, half the kids don't, and gender doesn't play into it. Most of the kids I know are in preschool or elementary school, though, so this will probably change as they get older. (My kids share a room, and for now they like it that way.)
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:57 AM on October 27, 2010


I understand kids sharing a room out of necessity or even because they want to, I'm just wondering about the logic behind forcing kids to share a room even if you have enough space for them to have separate rooms.
posted by amro at 10:42 AM on October 27, 2010


I understand kids sharing a room out of necessity or even because they want to, I'm just wondering about the logic behind forcing kids to share a room even if you have enough space for them to have separate rooms.

I don't find it logical or natural to partition families off into their own separate rooms. It seems weird to me, especially when it seems to come from a conspicuous consumption place.

The house we just bought does have enough bedrooms for each kid to have one, but it seems far more sensible to me to use one of those rooms as a library/playroom/office that the whole family can benefit from, and one as a sleeping room for the two kids. There is no lack of places to go when privacy is needed, and people in the modern world have enough opportunity to isolate themselves from others as it is. I think living more communally is what makes sense for humans and that the best way for my kids to learn about living with other people is to live with other people.
posted by padraigin at 11:49 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


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