The other day Noah and I went to the local toy store (one of the really big ones we are all familiar with) so he could pick something up for his RC Car. All nerdiness aside, I was interested to see if much has changed since the last time I went to a large chain toy store. When we walked in and started searching down the isles, a familiar sight caught my eye. Pink! Isles and isles filled with pink. I’m sure you can guess which toys these isles housed: “Girl” toys. “Are they still slapping pink on every girl toy?” I thought to myself.
The answer is, yes. Not only that, I was also confronted with “girl” toys (all pink, of course) having to do with all of our important womanly duties:
strolling babies around
basically, being our natural princess selves
There were other toys like the, “Make-up and Nail Salon Kit,” Model Doll Runway Extravaganza (Complete with all 3 revealing outfits!),” and, for the gamer girl, “your very own PINK video game controller!” Now, the names of these toys are obviously fabricated for dramatic effect but they still exist on the shelves.
Being a housewife is an incredibly difficult job (no sarcasm). And I am not trying to insult anyone who has decided to stay home and take care of the house/family. It’s just the suggestion that that’s all there is for a little girl to have to connect with is what’s troubling me.
I did come across one line of toys that did not adhere to the all-pink-all-the-time mantra:
You see? At least the sexy bowling girl and sexy science girl aren’t wearing head-to-toe pink. Not even their sexy after-bowling/experimenting outfits are all pink. Fhew. I guess we are making a change. Except for the fact that these girls look like anorexic aliens, I’m very relieved…
I’m not trying to hate on pink, that’s not the point. Whether I like pink or not has nothing to do with this post. But what I am trying to discuss is how our society is still so fixated on showing (actually, telling) our girls what is most important to being a girl. This is a heavy topic and I am surly not 100% educated or knowledgeable in gender roles or gender stereotypes. And I’m not only wagging my finger at the “girl” toys.
Though “boy” toys are not garnished in blue typography or housing (in fact, there was a much wider array of colors in the boy isles: red, yellow, black, neon green, etc…), they still are mostly centered around shooting, throwing, blasting, fighting, shanking, jumping, hitting, speeding, and any other hard core/violent verb you can think of. (I wish I had the photo of the WWF figurine isle. That was magical).
I began to look around at the advertisements on the “boy” toys, too. There were no photos of any girls on the packaging, just as there were no photos of boys on the “easy-bake ovens.” I thought that I would have to admit to myself that gender stereotyping had not at all eased since I was a kid. Then I saw this:
Girls! Girls playing sports! And they’re not wearing pink jerseys! High five to Stats Co.
I started feeling hopeful once again and then pointed out to Noah, “Look! Girls on the box building a volcano!…Girls on the box building a rocket!” I was thinking of how I could shamelessly plug all of these gender neutral game companies in my blog when Noah said something like, “This is the science section. It’s sort of a different thing.” Damn. He was right (again). I guess it’s nice to know that at least we are all aware that girls and boys can partake in science experiments and other educational extracurriculars. But still, the toys, the things that the kids REALLY want to play with are all segregated. STILL.
I know I should relax a little bit. I mean, I was never a fan of pink when I was a little girl and I played with things like this:
But my parents dressed me in boy’s hand-me-downs and never really had the opportunity to buy me all of the ridiculous things I wanted (even though I still remember the aching desire to own a Barbie Dream House or Barbie go-cart). I was still vulnerable to the ads. I think I rebelled against this love/hate relationship with “girl” toys when I was in middle school and my good friend and I decided to give all of her Barbies mohawks, tattoos, and black leather wardrobes.
I’m not trying to kid myself or be a hypocrite. I am fully aware that this blog features fashion & beauty, as well as crafts and the like. I have become more comfortable with my femininity; my OWN view of my femininity (and, yes, that includes tattoos, too). I’ve come to terms with my own relationship with it. But little girls today are even more susceptible to gender stereotyping ads, what with the internet, the slew of wireless electronic devices, and magazines. I think I just had to deal with toy stores and television commercials when I was their age and a little older. There are very strong views of women in reality now that challenge the “all-pink” view. But doesn’t that mean that toy manufacturers should catch up? I guess it is a slower process than I wish it could be.
If a girl likes pink, and doing her nails, and dressing in high heels then fine. But what if a girl likes wearing a baseball cap, blue genes, and spending her time looking for bugs and worms, and doesn’t worry herself about how she looks? What if a boy likes the color pink too, and asks one of his parents to paint his toe nails that color, and also thinks that princess dresses are pretty, and isn’t so into sports? Is this also fine? I think so.