Now this could be the cold medicine talkin’ but I saw this petition today via the Women’s Media Center (which I adore) and I have to say I disagree that kids toy isles should be gender neutral.
Here is the article/petition —> http://www.change.org/petitions/target-stop-segregating-your-toy-aisles
I have two girls and they are both wonderfully different, a fact that keeps me on my toes because what works for one, doesn’t not work for the other.
My oldest was very interested toys regardless of gender identification. She wanted dolls, matchbox cars, stuffed animals, Star Wars, Barbies, dinosaurs, puzzles trains, books…you name it. When we would go to the toy section we’d have to go down EVERY isle. There was something in each isle she wanted.
Now my youngest. She only identifies with pink things for girls. She always has even with her sister playing with Power Rangers in front of her. When we shop with her she only wants to go down the pink isles. As a parents it’s quite a time saver and a money saver. The only thing “boy” she’s been interested in is her sister’s Thomas the train set but she has to play with Emily or Rosie and eventually one of them marries Thomas.
From watching my children I see that there is a period where they are identifying what is “girl” and what is “boy.” I feel this is healthy in the realm of belonging and self identification. My girls have connected to their girlishness and embrace it and are not ashamed of liking things that relate to girls. I feel it’s a place of safety “I’m a girl and this what girls do so I’m going to explore it.” I know one day (most likely my oldest first) they will break out of that stereotype (because they get bored) and branch out into interests that are gender neutral. It’s a phase of developmental identification.
What I don’t like is the toys that reflect of a girl (or boys) image on what they should be. Dolls are a big part of this. I am happy that my girls choose to want dolls or various skin colors but where are the various sizes? I’m a big woman, I have been for a long time and the odds are I’ll never be Barbie size, in fact it’s nearly impossible physically to have the chest to hip ratio of Barbie size. But because they play with dolls that are not in their mommy’s shape they think I’m abnormal and Barbie is normal. This is something I’m not going to point a finger at Mattel, it’s my job as a parent to show them that the world comes in various shapes, sizes and colors and they are all beautiful. Just as it’s my job as a parent to bring them to the blue isle and show them science toys, legos and superhero’s.
Now if there was one thing I would sign a petition for it would be that Wonder Woman and other female superheroes (DC and Marvel) have a place in the girls section. Far too often she’s in the boys section with the rest of the DC characters. My youngest would have a collection of Black Widow figures if they were in the pink isle.
Stores like Target with their pink and blue isles are marketing for children like my youngest. She feels comfortable and safe in a pink isle. Is it right or wrong? It’s really not my call. As a parent, I take my time to let her be comfortable to cross the isle and find new adventures. She will. We all do. And that’s part of the fun.