The color pink has become synonymous with "girl" in a way that is both insulting and disturbing. Products created for little girls are predominantly made in the color pink, with the occasional pastel purple, or yellow thrown in the mix. Why do we assume, hell demand, that little girls like pink and only pink?! It is extremely limiting and sends a terrible message to our girls about fitting into one narrowly defined category of girlhood. It seems to go hand-in-hand with the princess phenomenon -- the belief that all little girls are infatuated with princesses, want to play with, look like, BE a princess. This is nonsense. It's all about the marketing and societal pressure to like certain toys.
Growing up in the 80s, with feminist parents, my childhood was filled with exposure to many activities & toys -- bike riding, tree climbing, ball playing, getting dirty, playing with Legos (the basic set of red, yellow, blue, brown and green--not pink & purple like all Legos toys for girls are now!!!), watching shows like sesame street, and later Inspector Gadget, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Shera, Transformers, etc. Granted, I did grow up with three boy cousins, which influenced my likes to some degree. But how great is it that my parents allowed, nay encouraged, me to play like the boys?! Because of this, I grew up knowing that I could like anything I wanted to like; it didn't matter that I was female.
Shows seemed less gender-specific back then too. Indeed, the feminist movement (2nd wave) was so fresh that I think there was more awareness generally for marketing to be inclusive for all kids. Remember "My Buddy" and "Kid Sister" dolls? How great is it that dolls were finally being marketed to boys?! It was basically the same product for both boys and girls. But we no longer have products like this. We have slid backwards. Not only do we segregate the marketed toys that boys and girls can play with but we don't even encourage the kids who dare to cross the gendered lines. Girls are supposed to play with pink doll houses, pet shops, princesses, makeup, etc. Boys are supposed to play with race cars, toy guns, blocks/Legos (that actually build something! Not a pet shop), warrior figures, etc. Where is the overlap in this highly segregated toy world? It is our children who will suffer the consequences, pigeonholed into narrow definitions of girl and boyhood.
This is serious, not just one person's rant on toy marketing. Kids learn through play, and play trains them for what roles they will hold in society as adults. Do you want your daughter to grow up self-absorbed, concerned with only her looks, and "being a dainty, pretty princess"? I certainly do not want MINE to. I want girls to know they are smart, brave, capable of achieving anything!
Thank goodness other adults/parents see this as well. and are challenging the status quo.
- Girls' Power Ballad --"More than just a Princess!" Dang right. A girl's worth should not be measured by how pretty she looks, or daintily she moves. We need to encourage our girls to take risks, like adventure, science, getting dirty.
- Riley on Marketing -- Watch the video, as little Riley rants about girl vs boy toys. Her dad gets it, and is training his daughter to recognize the absurdity of harsh engendering of toys.
- GoldieBlox -- One woman made it her mission to make an engineering toy for girls. And while it is still in pastel colors, at least she is marketing a product that will benefit our girls, rather than pigeonhole them into domestic roles. You MUST check out how her product GoldieBlox started. Now it is a real product available for our girls.
I only hope that there are enough parents out there that will encourage their girls to play with products like this, to explore every aspect of the world, enough to change the course of womanhood.
Check out these articles:
And this website, focused on products that celebrate girl bravery!