picklesink

A mom, a dad, and two nutty kids.

Toddlers and Tiaras and Toys

on September 11, 2012

This.

©PicklesINK

This really, really irritates me. More than irritates me – This really makes me mad. In case you can’t zoom in enough to see, on the left we have the “Fun to Fix Gift Set” and on the right the “Little Glamour Gift Set.”

Let’s break it down: As with most baby toys, you have two options, 1. Unisex; or 2. GIRLY GIRL WITH HEARTS AND SPARKLES.

The “Fun to Fix Gift Set” comes in bright, “unisex” primary colours and is demonstrated by a unisex model baby dressed in pale green waving the toy actively.

The “Little Glamour Gift Set” makes no pretenses about being unisex: demonstrated by a baby girl in a hairband passively smiling at her “diamond” bracelet, the toys are pink and purple with a splash of turquoise and of course a GIANT SPARKLY DIAMOND. The description at www.toysrus.ca reads, “3 glam accessories for that oh-so sweet little one! Give a little glam and – just to be practical – teethable, easy-to-grasp features. Set includes Baby’s First Purse, a Diamond Ring Rattle and two teethers where fashion style meets teething comfort!” (emphases mine). There’s no need to be “practical” of course when it comes to sweet little girls, but hey, they threw that in there as a bonus; “glam” on the other hand is clearly a necessity.

I hate the idea that someone buying a gift for a baby shower walks up to an eye level display that tells them that an appropriate toy for an infant “Aged 3-18 months” is a “diamond ring rattle” and “baby’s first purse!” It’s with only a little hyperbole that I say it’s a hop, skip and a jump, followed by a slow twirl and a flash of whitened teeth in a make-up caked face at the judges, to the pageant world of our favourite train wreck of a TLC show, Toddlers and Tiaras.

The show is considered by those who watch in amused disgust to be so ridiculous that there is even an app on the website where you can “Toddlerize” yourself:

Go for the Supreme Glitz Makeover!

Go from drab to fab with big wigs, sparkly hair-wear,

faux diamonds and more! Mix and match until you’ve

created the ultimate glam-over!

There’s that “glam” again – in this case, high-lighting the over-the-top-ness of “glamming” up your toddler to compete for “Ultimate Grand Supreme” or even better, “Living Doll,” (seriously. click on the link. it’s a real thing.) with its prize of “crowns and mon-nay,” but not so funny after all when you look back at the mainstream toy encouraging you not once but twice to give a little “glam” to your 3-18 month-old.

We have tried really, really hard not to raise a Disney Princess. Ben and Molly play together with their trains, blocks, dollhouse, Playmobil, toy kitchen, dolls, and dress-up chest filled with astronaut, pirate, doctor, chef, firefighter, and fairy costumes. But you can’t necessarily fight nature, and like it or not I have one of the girliest little girls who every reigned as Princess of Girlytown – at 2 Molly insists on choosing her own clothes and 9 times out of 10 her outfit will be monochomatic bubblegum pink. (That 10th time is when all of the pink clothes are in the laundry and I won’t let her wear PJs).

But while I’m happy for her (and Ben, but that’s a whole other post) to wear as much pink and sparkles as she likes (including pink sparkly skull and crossbones nails from the Sally Hansen Salon Effects Avril Lavigne collection. Just awesome), and I don’t think there is anything inherently damaging in sparkly dress-up and accessories in and of themselves…

©PicklesINK

…I still want to make sure she knows that looks and “glam” and diamond rattles aren’t the only important thing. And I’m happy that for the most part that we’ve “come a long way, baby”

…and moved beyond a time when girls concentrated on looking pretty and waiting passively to “make a good match” or packed their bags and went proudly (and prettily) off to university to earn an M.R.S.

But products like the “Little Glamour Gift Set” remind me that we still place a heck of a lot of emphasis on how our little girls look and dress, which teaches them that that is where their true value lies, and it doesn’t take a rocket surgeon or a sociologist to tell you that that is damaging.

So I will take this as a reminder to make sure to balance my “Aww, you look so pretty!“s with a healthy dose of, “You worked so hard on that!“s, “That was such kind sharing!,”s and “Wow, what smart problem-solving, Monkey!“s.

~ karyn

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6 responses to “Toddlers and Tiaras and Toys

  1. Lynn Mueller says:

    I totally agree! I fought it with my boys, refusing to pay extra for outfits that cost more so they could be walking advertisements for Walt Disney or the current TV show or movie. Now, I see my grand- daughter wanting to have a princess room, princess backpack, princess shoes…… The sad part is, it is sometimes hard to get something that isn’t stereotyped. I once had no choice but to buy Teenage mutant Ninja turtle sweatsuits. My boys thought they had died and gone to heaven. Then there was the time I made them short suits for Easter Sunday and let them pick out the material (baseball, racing and a pattern) only to discover with horror once I got home that the fabrics were advertising beer!!__Labatts Blue etc. Another pet peeve is a toy set of tools or toy sewing machine that costs more than the real thing would be and does nothing worthwhile. The more things change……..

    • picklesink says:

      One of my biggest issues with all the trademarked character stuff too, on top of the price, is that it starts being force-fed to you long before your children have actually developed a desire for it, so by buying it, you create that desire. That was my whole point with this rant – baby girls don’t have an innate desire for a diamond ring rattle, so why do we give it to them and teach them that’s important in life? On the subject of toys that actually do something, my little brother and my best Christmas ever was the one when Santa brought us each exactly what we asked for – He got an Easybake Oven and I got my 44-piece tool kit (kid-sized)! I would have loved to see your boys in church on Easter Sunday in their Labbatt’s beer suits, though!!

  2. Keri says:

    It annoys me to see the Toys r’ us website advertising “Boys’ Toys” and Girls’ Toys”!!!!! Arghhh…

  3. If there are enough parents with buying power who feel strongly enough about licensed products and gender-biased products, the toy industry would listen. Speaking as someone from that category, the truth is that licensed Pre-School products simply outsell non-licensed products by a significant margin to the 99% crowd.

    I hope blogs like this get noticed and start change. I don’t enjoy slapping Dora on everything to make money, but if she helps to sell-in new toys and play patterns, she’s a necessary evil.

    • picklesink says:

      I don’t mind it so much at the preschool level or even toddler – at least by then the child may actually have developed a preference. My issue is more with artificially creating that preference with gender-specific (and promoting a disastrous stereotype) products for newborns. If Molly asks for Dora PJs (and they’re not too expensive, because I’m cheap), I’m not going to say no just on principle, but I’m not going to pay extra to buy those same PJ’s for a 3 month-old.

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