Oh how far we’ve come

From the early 80s…

And now.

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25 Comments

  1. DeafBrownTrash
    Posted August 31, 2009 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    It’s not really a big deal, while all the same I think those commercials are gross. I used to play with those toys as a child, while also playing with G.I Joe’s and Legos…
    kids will be kids. It’s just a matter of parents encouraging their kids (of either gender) to play with all kinds of toys for boys AND girls, to broaden their playing and learning experiment.

  2. CATB
    Posted August 31, 2009 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    Toys for girls are depressing. My boyfriend and I made an eye-opening trip through the board game aisle at Toys ‘R’ Us a few days ago, and I couldn’t believe some of the board games. The three that stuck out to me:
    “Mall Madness”: The goal of the game is to get to as many stores as possible, as quickly as possible. But wait! If you run out of cash, you’ll have to hit the ATM! First girl to six stores wins. Shop, shop, shop!
    “Mystery Date”: This is an old one, I think, but it’s been revamped for today’s young girls. Draw a card, see who your date will be. The example cards on the back show a guy with a snowboard, and it says “Will it be the popular guy who wants to go on a snowboarding date?” Shown on another card is a decent looking guy with glasses and a button-up shirt. “Oh no, not him! Lose three cards!” Seriously. Shun those who are good at math! Your popularity might suffer if you speak to him!
    And, finally, a Ouija board for girls. My boyfriend picked it up and wondered aloud how they could have possibly changed it to be gender specific. The example question card shown was “What’s my best feature?” Of course, the board is bright pink with cutesy writing. Obviously, women do have a terribly hard time reading anything written in Arial or Times New Roman. No swirls or fancy dots, and I’m lost!
    The worst part was looking at the interesting, functional games for boys. One was a spy game where you had to shift the pieces around to make a complete circuit. No girls pictured anywhere on the box, of course. The electrical engineer in me cried a little.
    Girls’ toys haven’t come far at all. They teach girls to be decorative, not functional. They encourage vanity and materialism. And I’m left wondering… how do parents justify buying these for their children?

  3. JoanOfArc
    Posted August 31, 2009 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    Well, if I’d been given a ‘Rose Petal Cottage” it would have turned into “Rose Petal Fort” in the “Rose Petal War Zone.” I always found playing house insufferably boring.
    Joan

  4. allieb87
    Posted August 31, 2009 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    I had forgotten the creepy way that girls toys are scented. It says that the Barbie kitchen smells like vanilla. Ewww, right? Because it doesn’t really smell like vanilla. It’s more like some weird faux vanilla that gives you a headache.
    I used to have a Strawberry Shortcake doll that was supposed to smell like strawberries. Instead she just smelled really weird so I piled her underneath other dolls to mask the scent.

  5. Marj
    Posted August 31, 2009 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    Vanilla? I don’t even like vanilla >

  6. Marj
    Posted August 31, 2009 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    “And I’m left wondering… how do parents justify buying these for their children?”
    Because commercials work, and the kids beg for them. (Honestly, I liked Mall Madness. For about a month. Then I got the best stores memorized and it wasn’t fun anymore). My favourite toys were usually the ones that actually resulted in making something, though. Like knitting. Or woodworking.

  7. theology_nerd
    Posted August 31, 2009 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    ITA.
    When I was little, I played with Barbies and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I had dolls and pretended to bake, but I also watched Power Rangers and played Star Wars. And now I have a 4-year-old (male) cousin who is just as likely to play with his kitchen set as with his trucks.
    There’s no reason to keep little girls from traditionally “feminine” toys if that’s what they want to play with, just like there’s nothing wrong with keeping them from the “masculine” toys. Every child is unique, with different interests and skills…so why not nurture those?

  8. Mollie
    Posted August 31, 2009 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    I like that little girl’s bowtie a lot though.

  9. lyndorr
    Posted August 31, 2009 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    Wow, what a great way to make money. Accessories for the cottage are sold separately. I liked my easy bake oven growing up but can laundry ever really be fun?

  10. allieb87
    Posted August 31, 2009 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    I just moved into my first apartment with an in-unit washer and dryer and I’m giddy every time I use them. I think not having to haul a ton of dirty laundry to a communal washer/dryer has made it fun for me.
    But I definitely didn’t play at doing laundry as a kid.

  11. llevinso
    Posted August 31, 2009 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    I think the problem isn’t if girls want to play with these types of toys, it’s that these toys are specifically marketed to girls and never ever ever to boys. Same go with toys like Transformers or whatever. I also played with both “girl” toys and “boy” toys when I was little. My parents encouraged it. But the advertising is so gendered it’s ridiculous.

  12. allieb87
    Posted August 31, 2009 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    For the record, there are a few brands that market stuff like this to both boys and girls. Playmobil is a good example. They have “modern living” and “city life”sets that have kitchens, laundry rooms, etc. and are also pretty gender neutral. Of course they also have “knights” that are pretty exclusively marketed to boys and “fairies” for girls. And they don’t advertise on TV so far as I know. But the point is that there are alternatives!

  13. Mucon7
    Posted August 31, 2009 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    Haha, worse even, at least in the first one they included someone who wasn’t white.
    Smells like vanilla, wtf? That was a selling point?
    And laundry can be fun, if you get to watch it slosh around and shit, or you enjoy nice clean clothes I guess, but faking it by just sticking clothes in a hole and then pulling them out again, well that’s just boring. Wasting kids’ imaginations on laundry.

  14. Peepers
    Posted August 31, 2009 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, of course, just listen to the Rose Petal jingle. Taking care of one’s home is a dream.

  15. llevinso
    Posted August 31, 2009 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    Okay, I was going by what I see on TV advertising. Where do these companies advertise? I have never seen any ads for these gender neutral products. But I don’t have children so that might be why I haven’t seen them.
    But I think my point still stands. Aside from maybe the 1 ad out of 100 for these kinds of toys that’s marketed to both boys and girls, most ads are very gender specific and limiting. It needs to change.

  16. allieb87
    Posted August 31, 2009 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    I really wonder what kind of chemicals they dunked that thing in to make it smell like vanilla.

  17. allieb87
    Posted August 31, 2009 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    I agree with your post. Commercials for toys are appalling. I was just pointing out that there are alternatives for parents who don’t buy into this sort of thing. Unfortunately you do have to look really hard.
    Playmobil has been around for a long time. It’s a German company actually. Usually it’s just independent local toy stores that have a big Playmobil selection and they really don’t advertise very much. They have a catalog but that’s about it.

  18. FilthyGrandeur
    Posted August 31, 2009 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    i love kids that play “pretend” but come on–we’re grooming girls to just be homemakers–still!
    i think my real problem is that toys offered to girls are only within the parameters of domesticity. we act as if girls can’t possibly be interested in anything more important.
    i work in retail. i know exactly where the girl toy aisles stop, and the boys begin. they make it easy to, with pink and blue (or black) backer paper. ugh.

  19. starryeyed.kid21
    Posted August 31, 2009 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    I had to say this somewhere.
    Yesterday we celebrated my second-cousin’s fifth birthday (my family is close…yeah) and she was given a diaper bag for her dolls.
    You know what she wanted?
    A toy dump truck. Her mom told everyone not to get her one (which makes sense, because her brother has one, so there’s no need for two in the same house).
    Her favorite gift was a bag of exploding fun (poppers, silly string, things like that) my family got her.
    And it was the first thing her mother threatened to throw away when she was misbehaving.

  20. Hara
    Posted August 31, 2009 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    I’d like to make a child’s play, Artists Loft, instead.

  21. samantha
    Posted August 31, 2009 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    As a kid I didn’t PLAY laundry, I DID laundry. Until I was tall enough to hang clothes on the line I did folding, after that the hanging up clothes was all me. Then I learned how to use the washer, too. I also doubled as a dishwasher ;)

  22. allieb87
    Posted August 31, 2009 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

    Haha, I did a lot of folding as well! Which probably explains why I didn’t feel like I needed to pretend to fold.

  23. atdelphi
    Posted August 31, 2009 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

    Except that as a kid, I certainly noticed that all the toys that I wanted to play with and the clothes I wanted to wear were on the side of the store marked “Boys” and it made me hate being a girl. Six years old, in the late 20th century when little girls could supposedly grow up to do whatever they wanted, and I despised my gender because I never once saw someone like me on a commercial for a toy I liked.
    And my peers noticed. As early as the first grade, I had classmates calling me a lesbian and telling me in no uncertain terms that /these/ toys were girls’ toys and /those/ toys were for boys, /these/ colours were for girls and /those/ were for boys. Even though my parents were fine with buying me Ninja Turtle action figures or shirts with dinosaurs on them, I was made to feel fundamentally wrong inside by the media and my peers for such unbelievably trivial things as liking darker colours or playing with dolls that looked like the X-Men instead of dolls that looked like fashion models.

  24. Eresbel
    Posted August 31, 2009 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

    I think the real issue at hand is why was Barbie keeping a box of cookies in the fridge?

  25. Kandace
    Posted September 1, 2009 at 3:55 am | Permalink

    They choose a stove, a washing machine and a cradle for their accessories. Seriously? Not even a fake couch, a newspaper? I get playing house, but even a desk? A fake bed?
    AHHHHHH.

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