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)?
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.