It might seem an odd pairing, the nuclear family and car stickers, but the craze of one particular type of stickers shows that the illusion of the perfect family is still alive and well today.
In the 1950s and 60s, and even up until the divorcing boom in the 80s and 90s, there was almost the unwritten rule that families needed to be cookie cutter perfect. You needed to have a mum and a dad and some kids in a house and look happy. You’d present yourselves well, even if home life wasn’t happy, and marital disputes were rarely discussed for fear of looking imperfect.
In 2015, the typical family that we remember has changed dramatically – for the better – as there is not that overwhelming pressure to save face and stay together. There are single parent families, families with two dads or mums, and there are even families with grandparents taking care of the children. Nothing is too unbelievable now, so why is it that the My Family stickers are still so popular?
If you haven’t seen them (they’re everywhere!), My Family stickers have been attached to bumper bars and back windows for around 10 years and depict stick figure characters to present family members. It’s not often you’ll see just two stickers on a car – it’s as if the more stickers you have, the more impressive your family…almost like a badge of honour.
Griffith Law School researcher Dr Kieran Tranter has delved deep into the My Family sticker trend and found that they are not like traditional bumper stickers – they say something completely different about that person and their life.
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His research found that very few same-sex or childless couples purchase the stickers, and they are primarily used by women aged between 30 and 50.
“It’s very much an attempt to capture a feeling of normalcy,” Dr Tranter told the ABC. “Which begs the question: Why that is challenged? What is going on that means that someone needs to declare this incredible, domestic, almost 1950s vision of happy families?”.
Dr Tranter’s other theory is that the stickers are a reflection of female competition and the ideal of the ‘supermum’.
“One of the hallmarks of being successful was to have a husband who’s still around, who’s quite manly and these very successful children who are doing lots of extra-curricular activities,” he says.
So we want to know today, do you think that My Family stickers are really necessary today considering that a ‘normal’ family doesn’t really exist? Do you remember the pressures you and your parents faced, trying to show you were happy?