The front page of the 48-page toy insert in last Sunday’s paper grabbed my attention right away. It was colorful and filled with toys — what’s not to love? The only thing that would have made it better would have been a scratch-n-sniff patch that smelled like cake.
Unfortunately, I’m a grown-up (at least that’s what it says on my driver’s license) and because of that, my fondness for Play-Doh and pogo sticks and stuffed bears (oh my) is tempered by words and images that just creep me out.
For example, it’s bad enough that real women who aren’t strippers wear 6″ stiletto heels these days, but now there are dolls that do so as well. Monster High dolls, Bratzilla dolls, Barbie, and Barbie knock-offs–none of them apparently owns a pair of comfortable shoes. The Barbie Fashionista Ultimate Closet has nary a pair of sneakers or Danskos to balance out the teeteringly high, back-pain inducing, toe-scrunching, podiatrist-seeking heels. At least give the poor dolls a foot bath to relieve their pain.
I try to accept that all the pages selling toys for girls are pink and red (colors I do enjoy) and those for boys are blue and green (also colors I enjoy)… the universe would probably come to an end if a boy drove a pink truck or a girl wore a blue gown to her birthday party. The use of adjectives used to sell the toys, however, makes me want to find out who’s in charge of writing descriptions and bring those folks into the 21st century by the scruff of their necks. The primary descriptions used for girls’ toys in the insert were: fashion, sweet, friends, princess, fairies, wedding, dizzy, magical, bouncy, mommy, and designer. The words chosen for boys’ toys are: power, transform, super hero, action, force, battle, brawling, war, super, speed, fighter, and avenger.
I don’t need convincing the girls and boys are different at a brain, hormone, gene and, well, let’s face it, everything level. But really, why can’t a few girls toys be described as powerful, active or heroes? And why can’t boys’ trucks be called magical, bouncy or sweet? And let’s just get rid of the words dizzy, wedding, war, and avenger, why don’t we? At least for kids under 110.
It’s time girls stopped believing in fairy tales and started believing in their own power. And boys shouldn’t be pushed into believing their natural tendency for competitiveness means they have to grow up war-crazed. How about a UN diplomat doll who negotiates world piece while wearing comfortable shoes and driving an environmentally friendly car that transforms into a “gun” that shoots Nerf peace symbols that can be traded online for food for homeless animals? I’d buy that. Well, I would if were made in the U.S. and not sold at a big box store.
At the very least, let’s get the dolls some shoes they can walk around in.