slice of life

Boys’ Toys, Girls’ Toys, & Gender-Neutral Toys

Attachment-1 (2)Toys should be for everyone.  At least that’s what I believe.

But toy stores, including the INCREDIBLE ONE I drove to this afternoon, don’t agree.

I walked in, grabbed a shopping cart, and asked, “Where can I find toys appropriate for three year-olds?”

And do you know what the first question was out of the sales associate’s mouth? Of course you do. It was, “Boy or girl?”

My ears felt hot. I inhaled and said, “I’m shopping for both and I’m not looking for any genderized toys.”

“They’re against the wall back here,” she said, motioning for me to follow her.

“From here back you will find things for kids age three and up. And then these aisles have more.”

“Super!” I replied. I didn’t want to appear to be a stick in the mud. After all, not everyone shops for gender-neutral birthday gifts. However, I’m shopping for two kids whose parents have a similar mindset to me, which is why I wanted to stick with something that could be for a boy or a girl.

But… “If you want Barbies, dollhouses or other girls’ toys, they’re over there,” the sales associate said pointing.  “And if you want Thomas the Train, it’s back there.” I was waiting for her to say in the boys’ section, but she didn’t.

Why does everything have to be so black and white (or rather, pink and blue)?

Izzy cleaned up today, but she’s not getting all of these things all at once. They’ll be introduced over the next three weeks.

I calmed down, picked out three toys for Isabelle, one for her little boy friend and one for her little girl friend.  These toys foster spatial reasoning, academic concepts, fine motor skills, etc. What they don’t reinforce are gender stereotypes. (NOTE: Isabelle has her fair share of dolls. And that’s fine. However, she also has trucks and a train set, which she loves playing with.)

And with that, I will get off of my soap box.

* * * * *

An hour later I found myself scrolling through my Twitter Feed. I came across a great blog post, “What do little girls really learn from Career Barbies?” from Peggy Orenstein. I found myself nodding in agreement and full of glee for not having purchased Isabelle a Barbie doll. Not even a Career Barbie.  Finding Orenstein’s post made me realize that even though I might be alone in a toy store, I’m not alone in my desire to purchase toys that won’t negatively impact on my daughter.


8 thoughts on “Boys’ Toys, Girls’ Toys, & Gender-Neutral Toys

  1. My twenty year old daughter and I were shopping for a gift for a young friend recently. I was both amused and quietly cheering on my daughter as she expressed frustration over this very issue. I think (hope) that as more people, especially the next generation, make a stink about how foolish it is to make pink and blue toys things will change.

    You certainly aren’t alone in this way of thinking!

  2. Wow–as I do not have kids, I would never have realized it.

    On a related note, I read that pink used to be the color for boys because it was more aggressive and baby blue was feminine because it is softer and calming.

    Ladies’ Home Journal article in June 1918 said, “The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.”

    Manufactures changed the “rule” in the 1940s…and it doesn’t seem like they ever gave up that control.

  3. Stacey, I admire your fortitude about gender-neutral. I wonder how it happens that our (collectively) girls grow up and ask for pink and princesses despite our best intentions. You always make me think!

  4. Cause for a lot of thought for sure Stacey! I’m sure it’s due to the same reason a lot of things are the way they are . . .because it’s always been this way . . . no out of the box thinking perhaps????

  5. Yes! I don’t have any children of my own, but I 100% agree with your thinking! It’s scary how early we start with this stuff. It’s no wonder our girls and our boys are pigeonholed form such an early age. Imagine if more people believed as we do? (that’s a question, by the way, that I ask myself almost daily!)

  6. Oh I live this, I have a boy and a girl. We are gender neutral with many things. My daughters plays with gears and legos’ and my son plays house feeding the baby and cooking. I too saw the Barbie article and I did a small leap in my head so glad to see someone else agreed with me!

  7. I LOVE that toy store! I agree with you completely! My 3 year old daughter enjoys playing with her doll house as much as she likes to zip her remote control airplane around the house. In turn, she is able to play with the boys just as well as the girls. In fact, she requested to be a super hero for halloween and I couldn’t have been more proud. Being a princess wasn’t an option – luckily, she doesn’t even know the name of a single Disney princess. Good job Mama!

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