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Your Family Car Sticker Could Send The Wrong Message

Odds are, more than one of you have those cartoony family stickers on the back window of your car. I’m not sure how they became the trendy thing to have, but I wish the trend would pass.

I understand that people love their sons and daughters. I love mine, but I don’t know that putting a line drawing of him on my car is the best way to express it. In fact, I think sometimes expressing parental love by way of a sticker on a car can go wrong. Let’s look at an example.

Here is a sticker that I spotted recently. A family of four: dad, mom, daughter and son. This is a fairly common configuration. The children are always ordered left to right by age and thus, size. Almost always, the father figure is to the extreme left, as in the photo. I think that means that men in sticker land are always bigger or older than their mates.

“We’re a happy family, we’re a happy family, we’re a happy family, me, mom and daddy” – The Ramones, “We’re A Happy Family”

Yes, the owner of this car is so proud of their family. Well, on second thought, maybe. Let’s look closer:

What is wrong with this picture?

Why is the girl not in color like the rest of the family? If these stickers are expressions of family love and pride, what message is little Barbara to take from this obvious difference in her portrayal? No, I don’t know her name is Barbara, I just didn’t want to keep using pronouns to represent her. This poor child has suffered enough.

I have no idea why her sticker needed to be replaced, but it obviously did. That act changed the message from family love and pride. The difference in the message is as clear as the difference between black and white.

Barbara’s parents have labeled her a non-conformist; she is the black sheep of the family. Unmanageable and wild, she makes her own way in the world. Her colorful parents can only stand by (dad on the left, as per formula) and worry about what indignity the family will suffer the next time the phone rings about Barbara.

Be careful with your family stickers. They can give mixed messages if they’re carelessly applied. Should one sticker need replacement, please replace the those representing the whole family with the same type of sticker. Don’t drive one of your children away by being cheap.

Remember the lesson of Barbara. She is out there, and she’s looking for other misfit children.

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49 Comments on “Your Family Car Sticker Could Send The Wrong Message”

  1. This could go even deeper. What if this is Barbara’s doing, a cry for attention.

    Unbeknownst to her family, she has replaced the sticker with something that expresses her true self-image. Sure,she says, I play the part. I smile the family smile, I wave the family wave — right arm up, left arm down , but really, I feel invisible. . . .

    Thank you for calling attention to poor Barbara’s plight.

    • omawarisan says:

      So Barbara is an Emo, or a Goth?

    • Pay attention to Hippie. She speaks wisdom. There’s a new job for you, H. Psychoanalyzing car stickers!

      • I am (not) ashamed to admit to being a traffic profiler. I make driving decisions based on type of car, color of car, condition of car (e.g., bullet holes, side door bashed in, apparently not washed since the Reagan administration), state of ownership according to license plate, and philosophical orientation based on bumper stickers.I wonder if I could hire myself out as a professional backseat driver.

        Atthough my skills are rusty, I was once fluent ini Teenager. My heart breaks for Barbara.

  2. Laura says:

    The sad truth is that Barbara is no longer with us. But her memory will live on, in our hearts and on our rear window.

  3. robincoyle says:

    I saw a car with a family of cartoon members on it. Let me see if I can describe it properly . . . Male stick figure, female stick figure with a red circle with a line through it, three kid stick figures, one female stick figure with a red circle with a line through it, one kid stick figure, female stick figure with a red circle with a line through it, two dog stick figures.

    By my calculations, the guy went through three wives, four kids, and kept the dogs.

  4. T E Stazyk says:

    Is that what those are!! I thought they were an indication of the make of car or something. Now I want to know why people do that.

  5. Back in the old days, Barbara could have easily gotten along fine. With a name like hers, it would be no problem to get a miniature license plate for her bike which read “Barbara” under the North Carolina and above the “First in Flight”. Her classmate, Prudence, would have had no such luck in the mini-license plate realm, and had to make her own out of cardboard with magic markers.

    Now, thanks to the variety of stick figures out there, even the kids with normal names can be ostacized and traumatized.

    What a sick world.

  6. Wendy says:

    Perhaps those of us who do not participate in this trend just don’t understand the lingo. Maybe it means she is away at school. When she is home, the full color sticker goes back on. You know, like whether the flag is flying in front of Buckingham Palace kind of thing?

  7. AiXeLsyD13 says:

    I’ve seen one with two tall women after the alleged father. Polygamists? Adopted Amazon? I’ve also seen one of two stick figures in a compromising position with the text “starting my family”. Another favorite… I saw one with a lady & several cats… But they were all over the window instead of in a neat line.

    I do sort of dig the Star Wars, Batman, & Zombie ones… But I don’t know if I want to advertise to kidnappers & car-jackers.

  8. That’s a depressing sticker. If that’s not a cry for help, I don’t know what is. Unless Barbara turned out to be a serial felon, it’s really uncalled for. Just an outline. Harsh. However, knowing brothers as I do, I’d suspect her snotty little overachiever brother, Harold. He’s spent most of his life erasing her from the family. What a jerk.

  9. I totally agree! Just the other day Cole remarked that having one of those stick figure families on our van would have been awkward. When dearly departed and I bought our Honda van we said NO to the complimentary stick figure offer. We made the right choice :-D.

  10. Perhaps these parents are sending a message to would-be child abductors … “Please Take Barbara First!” http://wp.me/p1se8R-2tZ

  11. Todd says:

    I came this close buying the Star Wars version of these, with Anakin, Padme, Luke and Leia. The idea fell apart when everyone started complaining about which character would represent them. I was like, “But it makes no sense if I’m Chewbacca and you’re Yoda!” Kids. What’re you gonna do.

  12. There’s no clearer way to tell the little lass that she was an accident to begin with.

  13. Linda Sand says:

    I’m waiting to see the one with the ever popular Calvin doing what he does on his little brother.

  14. That’s too funny. I had the same though at first, that Barbara had passed on and that was her ghost! Kinda cool to think about it that way I guess.

  15. Debbie says:

    I immediately had the same thought as Karen, that poor Barbara had passed on. Perhaps this is her family’s way of saying she might be gone but never forgotten. Or perhaps the son got jealous of Barbara and took some of Mom’s nail polish remover out when they weren’t looking and “doctored” the sticker a bit? Yeah, I kind of like that idea. You can almost hear the creepy music cue up, can’t you?!

  16. benzeknees says:

    Those stickers are so stereotypical, they make a joke out of families that don’t fit the norm. What about families with no father figure? Or families with 2 mother figures? Or 2 father figures?

  17. Perhaps Barbara isn’t relevant enough to be portrayed in color. She is a girl after all. She isn’t the one hoped for, they had to keep trying for the ‘heir’ to the kingdom on which all blessings are heaped.

    There could be all sorts of interpretations.

  18. Bryan says:

    So, if I am reading everyone’s replies correctly, we all hate them. We can’t be alone in this. Not every SUV transports perfect families. Maybe we can start the anti-sticker fad. I’ve tried boycotting the stickers by not putting a sticker of me by myself with my TV on my rear window. That doesn’t seem to work. There is no massive, collective look of shock as i drive by with no sticker. Maybe I should print prison bar stickers to place over the fathers while the family car is parked at the mall. The possibilities could extend to straight jackets, empty bottles of booze, heroine needles, additional stickers to represent mother’s side boyfriend, inappropriate nanny stickers, labels like “cutter” with arrows pointing at the bored suburban daughter, another label “diabetes” complete with an overlay to make the son morbidly obese, tears to place on the little girls cheeks because “mommy loves wine more than me.”
    After going back and reading what I wrote it looks as if I should just write “bitter and alone” over my own cheap rear-window sticker.

  19. planetross says:

    I want a “Baby on Board When I Have a Cold” or ” I have the ability to make babies” sticker for my van.

  20. Barbara’s sticker reminds me of the photo in the movie Back to the Future where the images of the kids kept disappearing because Marty was rewriting history. Maybe Dad is off doing something to mess up the present and Barbara will disappear completely if he doesn’t turn the minivan into a time machine.

  21. audreyhipbone says:

    The girl is dead. That’s her ghost represented in the sticker. How did she die? She drowned in a well, as a matter of fact.


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