Thursday, August 11, 2005

Lost in Toyland

So I'm at my new job, doing my old duties and auditing the Toy section. My ulterior motive in all this is that I'm trying to get ideas for Zoe's first birthday present, so I hit the Barbie/baby aisles to get ideas, and check out some of the toys.

Of course, it's not the first time I've come across these toys, let alone have these thoughts about the toys in particular, but today I was pretty offended as a parent while going through some of the little girls toys. I'm sure some of the boys' toys are pretty stereotypical - competition based, sports inclined, stuff to do with asserting power and force toward other weaker villians and whatnot. But I think what is more damaging are the girls toys, which wean little impressionable girls toward domesticity, vanity, and pretty much every other sexist notion that makes our culture treat women the way we do now.

Lil' Bratz, if you've ever seen it, is a sexualized group of girls who are geared toward fashion and dress up, but less so in an innocent way; the dolls are usually dressed like club girls, in skimpy and often very made up dolls. Not glamorous princess Barbie dolls, but rather looking like girls who want to get attention through their looks. I know, vanity is certainly not a new trait to be pushing onto youngsters, but Lil' Bratz is marketing that it won for T.O.T.Y, Toy of the Year. What parent wouldn't want to give their kids a toy with that kind of distinction?

There are also toys that foster nurturing, and some that hint at the domestic roles they should take on in order to be real girls, and those have their own issues, but Lil' Bratz and Barbie's spin-off line, Cali Girl, take it a notch too far. I'm conservative, sure, but goddamnit, I don't want my little girl to want to wear overly tight jeans and short tops because her doll's doing it. I think little girls should be little girls. I think they should wear comfortable clothes like jeans and t-shirts, and run around and play in the dirt and do whatever the hell they want. All this focus on vanity and materialism really irks me. I find it also amusing that the doll clothes cost more than real baby clothes.

Anyway, just a rant. I'll try my darnest to get her a normal doll, not a Winx or a Bratz or a doll the bears any variation of the image that Britney Spears, Christina Aguliera, or any other pop tarts have solidified as being a likable and popular girl.

Happy birthday, Zoe. Here's a stick and a frisbee. Have fun!

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