Having read yesterday about the young girl who asked a publisher to change a book because it was ‘for boys’, it made me think about my own Christmas shopping experience at the weekend. Specifically, Toys R Us *shudder*.
Now, I’m not going to find fault with them particularly, as they merely stock the toys that are made by various companies. But it was the first time I’d been in a toy shop in years, especially for such an extended period. The one thing that struck me was the amount of toys that were still ‘for girls’ – invariably in a garish pink – and others that were for boys (emphasis on farts and gore). I did, happily, see one science set with a cartoon girl on the front, but it should be noted, it was one in a very large number.
I get it, I really do. It sells. We live in a material world and that no longer just applies to Madonna. But it was somehow just really disheartening. I was looking at the really cool stuff and then getting a disappointing sense that it wasn’t for me. If I feel like that in my thirties, when quite frankly I don’t actually want to play Transformers*, then what message are we sending to young brains?
Luckily, my parents had the good sense to buy what I wanted and not force dolls and pink on me. Besides, I can remember it like it was yesterday. *ahem*
More importantly, they certainly didn’t make that mistake when it came to books. My sister, happily a my-little-pony-style-girly-girl who definitely went super pink when it came to toys, also got the gender neutral treatment when books were given. A good story is a good story. Books of facts and games are informative and fun, regardless of how you happened to be born. Books of adventure could be for us just as much as fluff and nurturing. And I get the distinct impression, looking back with my adult hindsight, that neither parent wanted us to grow up to be damsels in distress. They wanted us to be independent and successful; secure in ourselves.
So I guess I wanted to say a big well done to all those parents who are trying to bring up their kids to consider all the options because, sadly, you’re still fighting against the same tide my mom and dad were thirty years ago.
*This may or may not be the truth