April 19, 2007

toys toys toys

When I was probably five, all i wanted was one of those kids sized cars you could drive on your own. I remember fifteen years ago when the girls got the mock Barbie cars and the boys drove Transformer Jeeps. Being the tough tomboyish girl i was, I wanted the big giant clunky army colored green Transformer Jeep. when this question was posed to blog on, it was the first toy to come to mind. I was at the Toys R Us by Ridgedale and spotted them by all the other unnecessarily large over priced kids toys were. Fifteen years later, you'd think perhaps there would be more gender neutral options.
According to the toy store, little girls are supposed to play with mini-kitchens, drive Barbie cars, put on fake make up, throw in a brownie in the Easy Bake oven (which I'm pretty sure was just recalled) and still manage to look like a princess, all in a days work. Boys on the other hand are to work out on the mini-toolbenches, drive their Jeeps, super-soak anyone that messes with um, and trade X-Men cards. It's all just perpetuating stereotypes. i thought they would've changed more things by now.

April 12, 2007

Blog #2

Whenever I go to Target I always walk through the toy section. It's part of who I am, I love to walk down the isles and see how the toys I grew up with have changed and see what things my kids may be playing with. Besides feeling like my generations had much better toys, I can always tell who's isle I'm walking down. The "girl" toys are kept in this bright pink isle, Barbies, Bratz dolls, stuffed animals and dolls as far as the eye can see! Then I hit the dark blue isle filled with action figures and guns and the "boy" toys. The back wall holds board games and other "gender neutral" toys. Toys for younger kids are pretty neutral and also have their own isle, the isle in the Target I went to was a light blue and the toys were mostly learning shape toys.

Girls toys focus more on dressing things up, keeping them pretty. The boys toys are all about doing things, fighting crime, fighting each other, racing cars, fixing things, doing things. These toys promote the stereotypical gender roles in life, boys are big and buff and they're supposed to do all this active stuff. The girls are supposed to be pretty and pink and dainty. But I personally think that they're coming out with more and more gender neutral toys. In the "gender neutral" isle now I see those playsets that are little kitchens. It doesn't seem like much, but I see it as people opening the door to cooking for boys when cooking and being in the kitchen was generally a female activity.

February 8, 2007

Walmart at 3 a.m.

I often go to Walmart at 3 a.m. with my sister and decided I may as well check out the toy section there. I found three parts within the toy section. The neutral sections include infant and toddler toys which are mostly toys for learning and are of primary colors. I did find that John Deer came out with some toddler toys of tractors trucks and farm animals. The tractors and trucks are all, of course green and yellow, with some brown toys also. Then there was the boys section which was mostly guns, vehicles and action figures. Hot wheels had its own section and the colors of the boys toys were moslty dark green, dark blue, red, and black. If you stood at the end of the aisle, it was really dark in comparison to the girls aisle. The girls toys were all bright yellows, blues, pinks, purples and whites. Everything was soft and sparkly and mostly dolls. I was stunned when I saw a cash register in the girls aisle, yes, a cash register complete with a microphone attached and all, in order for a young girl to dream of reporting a clean up in aisle 10!! There was also a set of sparkling pink and purple fairy wings though Halloween is 7 months away. In the bike section which I guess could be a fourth section I saw the classic radio flyer tricycle red and shiny just like it was when I wanted one when I was little. I remember how much fun it was and how, regardless of gender, both boys and girls would ride the shiny red bike. Further down the bike aisle I saw the same tricycle but it was pink and purple. This just reinforces the seperation of gender that is emphasized starting at early ages. I remember when my neice wanted nothing but Brat Dolls. Over the years she has collected almost every brat doll ever created, yet she no longer plays with them. What's more funny is now she is into basketball! I am glad because I think the dolls nowadays are horrible. Especially the baby brat dolls, they look like baby prostitiutes! None of the clothes the dolls wear cover their entire body and it is interesting how skimpy and tight the young girls have become, too. The toys enforce gender differences and separation. Boy is to Girl as G.I.Joe is to Barbie; as action figure to baby dolls, and as red and blue are to pink and purple.

February 7, 2007

Society and Childrens Toys

The toy aisles at Target were divided into two separate sections, boys and girls. There was a very clear definition between the aisles, but about an equal number of both toys geared toward boys and girls. It seemed to me that that girl aisles gave off a different aura than the boy’s toys did. The girl sections were filled with dolls and Barbie’s and small dainty little figurines to collect and play with. There was obviously a lot of pink in the girl aisles, both in the signage and marketing of the toys and in the toys clothes and figures themselves. Pink is prescribed as such a feminine color that none of this really surprised me considering, I had been exposed to these sorts of concepts since childhood. Another important aspect of the girl’s aisles that I noticed was the fact that there were a lot of fake and miniature versions of adult items like makeup and cell phones and purses. Pink Think discusses how girls are constantly admiring their mothers and can’t wait to be grown up like them. This has been a phenomenon forever and is becoming dominant in our society as we see small girls grown up faster than they probably should.
The boy sections on the other hand gave off a more action packed and tough vibe than the girls. Most of the signage and marketing was in blue and black, in contrast to the girls. The boys toys were also geared more toward them doing manly things like fishing and hunting or racing cars and I noticed that there were a lot fewer dolls and action figures than in the girl aisles. I think it is important to remember what an important role society plays in gender and the roles it develops for children to learn. It is fun for children to play with toys that are based on adult activities but it is also important to remember that there are toys and games that show children that everyone can enjoy the same things and that there is not a clear line between what toys are meant for boys and which are meant for girls.

February 6, 2007

The colors of boys and girls toys

I was at Target a couple days ago and I went straight to the one dollar section, there I saw two labels of baby bowls that were label boys bowls and girls bowls. The girl's bowls were in a heart shape in pink and purple, while the boy's bowls were regular round bowl in green and blue. After I looking around the one dollar section I went to look at the toys section and there I found lots of primary colors on the boy's toys section while on the girls section there were lots of hot colors like pink, violet purple, light purple and light blues. Also the boys toys have a variety of toys ranging from cars, dinosaurs, animals, swords, super heros, and action figures that the girls don't have on their sides. On the girls side there were lots and lots of barbies, baby dolls, playful ponies, princess dress up set, and toys that deals with the daily life or a woman which was to cook and clean at home and lots of colorful toys the boys sections does not have. By the way a lot of the girls toys promotes sexy, slim, skinny, bling bling dress up styles that regular people don't have or do in real life. Plus, most of the toys in the girls sections promotes the attitude of girls growing up to be girly and be a housekeeper, and pleasing their men with sexy clothings.

our continued, two-tone, gendered slavery, represented by the toys our children love so dearly.

every time i visit target, i am disgusted at how the toy aisles are either a sickening shade of pink, or an ominous tone of blue.

Continue reading "our continued, two-tone, gendered slavery, represented by the toys our children love so dearly." »

Toys that Separate?

Being that I don't have a car, and it has been hellishly cold this last week, I took the initiative to browse Toys R' Us' online store. This turned out to be a pretty interesting endeavor, as right off the bat, toys are divided up for you into categories based on age and gender. However, there was a section on the list, first, in fact, labeled "both". It was good to see that they had made this option so easily accessable. I slowly worked my way up in age, beginning with birth to age 2, "Both", then the same for "Girl" and "Boy". What I found here was that the toys were pretty gender neutral at this stage; primary and secondary colors, playthings introducing children to shapes and sounds, animals and textures (stuffed animals with no gender distinction), and little scooters or mini jungle gyms. The next up was three and four year olds, in which the toys began to show little gender specific traits, such as more girlish colors like pastel pink, purple, and white featured on "girl toys" like baby dolls and, yes, kitchen sets, and more "boyish" colors like blue, black, orange, and green on "boy" toys like toy cameras and science kits such as "Transforming Alien Rocks". However, one thing I did see that challenged my feminist thinking was that when you chose the "Both" category, the mini Dirt Devil vaccuum, which was red, showed up among outdoor playthings and arts and crafts. So really, at that point, it shows that it's at the parent's discretion for whether or not they want to buy their little boy a vaccuum.
The age division that really showed segregation between how boys should play and how girls should play was at the ages of 5-7, where the choices between boy and girl toys were limited to three subsections; "Dolls and accessories", "Action Figures", and "Outdoor Play". Theres an obvious gender seperation here, as the images the web site used as a preview to what toys were in that category was a blond haired, blue eyed baby doll wearing a pink jumper, a Superman action figure, and a jungle gym, respectfully. It's quite obvious who those toys were marketed to, with the exception to the jungle gym, which apparently is gender neutral.
What I did like to see was that as the age divisions got older, there were more and more interactive toys being shown, such as a butterfly garden, where (in the picture) it showed both a boy and a girl playing with it.
So, what I'm saying here is that there is hope. I really think that it's on the parent to decide which toys to buy their youngster, since at that time in their lives, they're not the ones with the weight of decision on their shoulders. No, we don't have to buy our daughters princess dolls. No, we don't have to buy Bratz. Why not a "Kid Tough Digital Camera", or a "Secret Life Pet Hamster"? Why not buy your boy a vaccuum? Mix it up a bit? Lets quit bitching about how unfair it is in the toy section for little girls and little boys, and being blissfully unaware of the many toy options out there that aren't so gender based? They ARE out there and this little experiment showed that its not that hard to find them. If its really such an issue to you as to how your daughter is being gendered from a young age, my guess is that you won't be buying Disney Princess dolls for her in the first place.

Boys' and Girls' Toys

In walking through the toy section of Target, I saw confirmation of many of the points made in the articles we have read about boys’ and girls’ toys. There were a surprising number of traditional gender roles in the toys, even after reading the articles.

The boys’ toys mainly focus on doing more active things; i.e. tools, wrestling and fighting action figures, and mechanical things. And you know that these toys are for boys because the packaging only shows boys playing with them. The colors of the packaging are more bold and primary.

Girls’ toys, on the other hand, come in packaging colors like pink and lavender. They focus on more passive activities: needlepoint, beading, the EZ bake oven, makeup and fashion-type things. Although these activities are more docile, they are generally more creative as opposed to many boys’ toys - say, wrestling figurines or Hot Wheels.

Legos are supposed to be a gender-neutral toy, but they come in boy colors. I think it is easier for parents to buy girls boys’ toys rather than buy boys girls’ toys. I guess it kind of suggests being a girl is a bad thing, like being a boy is something a girl can aspire to, but boys should never want to be like girls.

As mentioned in the articles, female action figures must be sexy. One of the only female action figures for boys was a Batman character who was dressed in a leotard/tuxedo-type outfit and high heels, wearing lots of makeup, and of course had a tiny waist with big boobs.

There was a “video game? called Make Yourself Pretty which allows you to give a photo of yourself a makeover. It’s logo is “Now you can see who you can be!? Who you can be? So, you are your looks? As if who you can be has everything to do with what you look like rather than your character, skills, or what you want to do with your life when you grow up.

Also on the subject of who you can be: the Barbie “I can be…? line. The only three things Barbie can be in the aisles of Target were Baby Photographer, Art Teacher, and Pet Sitter. Barely one step away from homemaker in terms of docility. Barbie could not be a doctor or a scientist, a politician or a social worker?

Continue reading "Boys' and Girls' Toys" »

Trip to Toyland

I visited the Toy store at the Mall of America. It's on the third floor. I walked in, and was overwhelmed by the seperation of the store. Right side for girls, left side for boys. Stores generally are set up so you go to the right side first. This makes me think they make more money off the girls section than the boys.

As others have noted. The right side is full of pink! every single box has it on there somewhere. the hello kitty section was a welcome site because of the dashes of red and other colors. Even the male figures for the girls come in pink boxes.
In the middle of the store there was a few toys that could go either way, so I guess the way the store was set up made sense, consumer-wise. Toys stores for kids aren't really much different than clothing stores for adults( our version of toys?) There's the girls side, and the men's side. H&M, express, the limited, J Crew, just to name a few...
personally, as smeone who is interested in advertising and marketing as well as the way average consumer's and societal "norms" go... the way it's set up makes sense. i'm not saying whether it's good or bad.
I do think though that at the formidable age that these kids are at that are looking at the toys, and asking their parents to buy the toys for them, should have more neutral things than " pretty princess in a pink package" or " I'm gunna buy Johnny a tractor so he can be big and manly!!" Maybe even, something that didn't push society's "norms" onto them. It will most likely be a long time until that happens though.


I went to look at the toy section at SuperTarget, and discovered that the toys were broken up into three main sections: boys, girls, and educational toys. The rows with girls toys were startingly pink. The kinds of toys present certainly reflected gender stereotypes. There were the fashion dolls like Bratz and Barbie, which are of course focused on beauty and appearance. This teaches girls that above all, their looks matter most. There were other toys as well. Things like E-Z bake ovens, tea sets, and house cleaning toys are designed as tools to prepare girls for domestic life. There were also toys that were babies, training girls to become mothers. All of these toys are still reinforcing the ideals of pink think, although slightly more subtly. Although women have made many social advances in the workplace and in other aspects of life, it is odd that the toys we give little girls to play with are still a reflection of Cold War feminine values.

The boys' toys were likewise gendered. The colors on the packaging were largely blue or other dark shades. Many of the boys toys revolved around traditionally male careers, such as G.I. Joes, police officers, firemen, and handy-men. These toys are preparing men for their future lives in the workforce, specifically jobs that are done by "real" men. Most of these toys also involve action and violence, while as the girl's toys are supposed to encourage passivity.

The learning toys were generally gender-neutral. Oddly, many of the gender-neutral toys were also geared towards infants and toddlers. It's strange that we give our children the same toys so early in life, and then suddenly decide that some toys are right for one gender and wrong for another.

All in all, toys for children serve to reinforce traditional values that fly in the face of modern reality.

Gendered Toys

I could not make to a toy store this week, but I did go to Target and looked at the toy section. There are three aisles of toys. One for boys, one for girls, and one for gender neutral learning toys, and board games were on the back wall. Just having this seperation is telling children that boys and girls are different, and need to act different. The toys in the aisle reinforce this idea. It is interesting to think about 'learning' toys seperated and neutral. It reinforces the idea that boys are not smarter than girls and vice versa, but the other aisles (for when the children are a little bit older) completely fall away from this. In the girl's section, the main color was pink and there was a lot of sparkles. Girls can dress up as princesses, play with dolls, little animals, and do arts and crafts. This is socializing them to be homemakers and mothers. There are cooking and house stuff there too. In the boys section, the colors are mainly blue and other dark colors. Boys' options are dinosuars, building things, action figures, and cars. Mostly male figures are there. Boys attitudes are shaped by these toys. I argue that male dominated jobs in the real world are reflected in the toy aisles. Men are more likely to be mechanics, construction workers, and be in the army. The seperation of th etoys tells girls that they are not allowed into those occupations. Girls are still being flooded with Pink Think now. There are some efforts to slow this exposure, but they are superficial. The girls are still being taught to act nice, have manners, take care of others. The princess phenomenon relates to Pink Think because of the material wants. A princess doesn't work. She gets the parents or the prince to get her stuff. The whole learning how to flirt and control people plays a role. She is practicing for later in life. The princess also suggests that the girls need to be protected. They would have 'bodyguards'. The boys toys reinforces that they need to be protective also, and that they can use violence. The girls are learning that they need to be beautiful and do their make-up and wear the latest fashions.

Gendered Toys

The main thing that I was taken aback by in the toy aisles at Target was the drastic differences in the colors that assault the eyes moving between the boys' and girls' aisles. The girls aisles are bright pinks and purples, and not much else. The boy aisles are much less jarring deep greens and blacks and blues, sometimes orange. The Target I was at had two full aisles that didn't seem to be very gender specific. One carried mostly toys for toddlers and infants, which weren't marketed for either gender. Then there was an aisle that had board and card games that had the occasional Dora the Explorer or Spiderman, but were overall ungendered.

Then I walked down the girl aisle.

Continue reading "Gendered Toys" »

Boy Section and Girl Section

Although it's been a long time since I've been shopping in the toy section of any retail store, the divided layout and the content in the isles have not changed. The store I visited conveniently provided by an excellent locating device that directed me with little arrows to the toys section. When I entered this area of the store, I questioned why the signs grouped Toys into one section. Clearly with the boy toys being on one side of the isle and the girl toys being on the other, one would assume these different sections would be worthy of their own title. After all, clothing gets their own department labeled by gender and age.
Anything pink, glittery, pretty or frilly is found in the girl’s section. For example dolls, kids who live in a cabbage patch, movie stars (Cool Gwen, Bananas Gwen, and even Holla Back Gwen) puppies, ponies, kitties, even mice (the mouse name is Angelina ballerina Talk and Twinkle) are all items that were in the girls section.
Anything dark, destructive, explosive, cars, construction is found in the boy’s section. For example, G.I Joe, Hellboy (this one was ridiculous), Superman, Zizzle Smoking Cannon, Transformers, Firefighter, Dog Alien Chestburster Plush (ok?)
As children, society, parent, extended family, teachers, friends, siblings, TV, movies, commercials, books, even bed sheets teach us what is appropriate to be like, what we should desire, and what we should value. Although we can not hide from the environmental influence that saturate our daily lives, we should start taking action to remove potentially harmful toys that teach of violence and toys that misrepresent the female and male figure.

Gender and Toys

On a recent trip to target I only took a few minutes to look at the toy section, but what I did see was actually pretty alarming.

Girls toys tend to consist mostly of dolls, toys that simulate cooking and cleaning, and makeup and fashion dress-up oriented toys. This obviously is intentional, and I can remember as a child in Toys R Us wanting to look at the boys toy section because I had no desire to play cook or clean, although I did like Barbie. I was more interested in the boys "section" because I really liked science, and toys like remote control cars and dinosaurs that actually made sounds. They were more interesting and more fun to me.

This brings me to my next point, mixed in with the agression heavy toys and action figures in the "boys section" of the toy isles are cool science toys, little telescopes, and interesting and educational toys. What message does this send? That little girls aren't smart enough to like or play with those things? Or, more likely, that little girls SHOULDN'T play with those things because then they would get too smart and not learn how to be "proper women".

With toys, girls are clearly being groomed to become little mommies and boys are being groomed to be smart and agressive superheroes.

Lucky for me, my parents let me give away my easy bake oven to the neighbor and got me a really rad remote control car and a telescope.

the toy land that political correctness forgot

Wandering through the aisles of a toy store makes me wonder why I never noticed the gender targeting. I guess it is because I was a wide eyed child, who didn't care for dolls but rather non gender specific stuffed animals. Characters like abu from aladin were my favorite. But on this particular visit I noticed that the same concepts are peddled to girls and women, the medium just changes. Girls learn from the toys in a store what the "ideal" body type is just as women watch fashion models. Both are unrealistic body types but they are still lead to believe that is the dream/goal. Not only that but there are a bevy of dolls that are supposed to foster what I can only be lead to believe are good nurturing skills. With toys created for everything from make believe kitchens to dolls that need to be changed. Boys play things are more engendered toward traditional masculine roles such as mock tool belts and army figurines.This is probably not much difference from a time before women were considered to be equals in our society, only barbie has more career options and more specifically more clothes. I do have to admit that there is one glaring difference between the toys of this generation and that of generations past. The technology aspect comes into play. I did notice a lot of ungendered toys meant for educational purposes and I must at least give credit to the toy industry for that advance.

How To Be According to Toys

As I'm walking through the isles of the local Target, I begin to get a headache. The bright pinks, purples, and baby colors are bombarding the sides of me, yet as I move on to the next aisle, I am flushed with forest greens, blacks, browns, and firey reds. You feel like you are in a different world simply walking through these, perhaps five or six, aisles. Not even looking at the toys yet, one would be able to tell "whose" aisle they were in, just based on colors and the way colors have embedded on us which gender is which. Before even knowing what toys were in the aisle, I could tell who this aisle was directed at. It was a realization at the way simple colors have become major aspects of identifying genders, and the ideologies that come with those colors.
When it came time to actually look at the toys, and examine the differences between boys' and girls' toys...I was kind of afraid, to be quite frank. To actually face the way our culture still genderizes children based on old, even ancient, stereotypes, was something I think I just didn't want to face. As I went back to the first aisle, it was the shortest and most bare aisle of them all. It had toys that no child ever wants, but their parents might pick up, because they are meant as "educational" toys. It was the only aisle not completely fit to one gender, and all the toys were meant for both boys and girls. But, like I said, this aisle didn't last long, as it seemed to be smaller than the other aisles, and no child was in sight of that aisle. When I moved on, the next two aisles were crowded with Barbies, Bratz, baby dolls, kitchen sets, dress up cloths and accessaries for baby doll, Barbie, or whatever other doll type toy you could think of. From make up for 4 year olds to diapers for their baby dolls, the "girls' aisles" were filled with everything fulfilling the stereotype of Woman. What goes in to being a woman, and what it takes to be a woman, it seemed, was the thought process rolling in all these middle aged men creating the toys that were put onto these girls' aisles. An image of teen girly-ness seemed to promote one aisle, while an image of how to take care of a house, a child, a family surrounded the other.

Continue reading "How To Be According to Toys" »

Aisles of Toys, and All It Implies

Green to the city, and especially city-driving, my toy store observations stemmed from not a toy store, but merely the toy section of the Store of Stores: Target. (*Angelic Chorus*) Oh, how the memories of walking my brother to the toy section of Virginia's Target, as reward for sitting in a car for an hour, came rushing back to me. It's true, I've spent my fair share in that aisle of toys which a boy aged 8-11 would be interested in. It's true, I've spent quite a lot of time scowling at the greens and grays of the merchandise, the abhorrent obsession with guns, trucks, and camouflage, and the grotesquely large muscles of the stoic/enraged plastic mini-men. For this reason, I think, my brother began requesting to be unaccompanied to his products of interest, as his selection would undoubtedly be greeted with my -- "Are you sure about that?"

If only I'd realized what the Toy Finding Mission would have been like if my little brother had been...a sister.

I'd like to think that she would not have been impressed that each Barbie and Bratz AND Princesses get their own walls to exhibit their glory. I'd like to think that she'd be more interested in the relatively ungendered crafty products, or even in the feminized crafty products (purple and pink sparkly boxes advertising make-it-yourself frames and necklaces) which take the lowest half-shelf. Even baby dolls! I should think I would be even content with the desire of baby dolls, which incidentally, are clearly in the 'girls' toy section and not in the 'boys' toy section. She would, however, fall into the fantastic glamour of these profit-dominating ladies' polyester gowns and chipped plastic crowns, I'm sure of it. The blazing hues of pink and silver glitter are hypnotizing! And with the promise of fashion, make-up, and attitudes just like those of these dolls, who can resist?

Yet, maybe my phantom sister would be like the little 7 - 10 year old girl on that Target Saturday afternoon, who asked her mother for a savings bank which mimicked an actual (un-gendered, un-pink, and un-camouflage) bank register. Her mother, who was looking at The Barbie Wall with me, related that even though the Barbies of her childhood didn't look like this, she kind of wanted one. So when her daughter came reeling excitedly around the corner with the plastic grey and yellow bank in hand, I guess I wasn't too surprised when her mother said, "Child, you pick out the strangest things."
And I, with three Barbies awaiting inspection in hand, smiled at her and thought --

"Rock on, sister."

February 5, 2007


I decided to go to Target and Toys R Us to observe how toys are gendered. As i suspected, there are aisles for girls and aisles for boys. The girls sections were full of bright colors, especially pink. There were a lot of dolls, stuffed animals, barbies, plastic purses with cell phones, ect. It seemed that a lot of the girls toys were designed to make them look or feel older. There was some boxes of play makeup and hair accessories, and there was also some purses that came with car keys, a cell phone, a credit card, and plastic makeup. This was kind of mentioned in the book, Pink Think, where they it was stated that female children between the ages of six and twelve, King reported, "were as eager to do the graceful thing as their older sisters or mothers." I agree with Pink Think based on some of the things I observed in the toy aisles. One thing I also noticed in the girls sections were that there was some toy household products like pretend vacumes and dusters. In Pink Think, they talked about girls wanting to be housewives, yet now days a lot of men stay home. Its kind of stereotypical for household cleaning toys to be in the girls sections. It seems to me that the girls toys promote beauty, appearance, and what they want to be when they get older.
The boys section of the toy aisles were a little different than the girls. The girls sections were filled with the color pink, and the boys section was a lot darker colors like black, green, and blue. A lot of the toys had gun and or weapons. I know when my brother was younger he had lots of toys with weapons, I just just surprised that there were still so many toys with weapons. There were also lots of trucks, cars, tools, legos, and models. I felt that the boys sections promoted destruction and violence. This was also talked about in the article, "It's a Girl Thing." Violence seems to be visible in the boys toys, yet I didn't notice any kind of violent material in the girls section.
It was interesting to walk through the toys section of stores becuase i haven't been through them in a long time. I was surprised at how graphic some of the boys toys were and how some of the barbies and bratz dolls were so provocative. It was interesting to see how different boys and girls toys really are.

Gender Division among Stores

Rather than going to a specific toy store, I went to the Mall of America. I specifically sought out ‘Lego Land’, ‘Libby Lou’, the ‘Discovery’ store and the new Build-a-Friend workshop (I think that is the name of the store – it’s the one next door to Build-A-Bear). As I had suspected, these stores’ patrons were the same as I had previously witnessed: boys dominated the legos and discovery store, and the girls dominated Libby Lou and Build-a Friend.

Legos have always been a touchy subject for me as I grew up playing with them (due to having four brothers that had every set imaginable) but my girlfriends always had something to say to me. I distinctly remember my mom telling me that I couldn’t play with my brothers’ legos because she bought them for them and not me, that I should play with the Cabbage Patch dolls she bought me. With my experience, seeing Lego Land at the Mall of America dominated by boys did not surprise me but I do feel that it may intimidate some parents to bring their daughters in the area because of stereotypes that girls should be ‘girly’.

Libby Lou, on the other hand, is quite obvious; this store clearly caters to and draws attention from little girls. It is the epitome of the stereotype of little girls wants to be dressed up, made up, and beautiful. Will the little girls that visit this store time and time again grow out of the ‘princess’ stage? We may never know unless someone does the research.

The Discovery Store caught my attention only when I was walking by and overheard a family talking; the father and son went into the store with the daughter trying to go with, her mother was holding her back saying ‘that store is for boys. There is nothing in there for you.? I could not believe it! What is that mother teaching her daughter? Not to reach for her dreams? Not to ‘think outside the box’? Not to want discover things? I wonder how many other little girls do not dare go into the Discovery Store for fear of what their mother may say?!

Finally, Build-a-Friend was dominated by little girls. In fact, when I went inside with my cousin to help her build her friend, I noticed that there were only a handful of little boy dolls to chose from. I asked her if she wanted to build a little boy doll as a friend and she responded, “Boys are no fun to play with. I want a girl.? Where did this come from? Her other toys? I have no answers to this but I do say that not nearly enough little boys go into this store; if they did, I would expect there to be a larger supply of boy dolls to build.

In all, I find it disheartening that my suspicions were mostly true; little boys dominated the creatively dreamy stores whereas the little girls dominated the girly-playful stores. Little boys are being enticed to think big, develop new ideas and explore new things. Little girls are being centered on beautifying themselves and making faux-friends. This experience for me reinforces the idea that no matter what people say, stores and toys are definitely geared toward a certain audience and will focus on certain attributes of that audience. It is very disheartening!

The Toy Store

The Toy Store
Walking in to the toy store you immediately see a gender division. There are “castle door?-like entrances to the “princess?-part of the toy store, big LEGO constructions encapsulating the LEGO shelves and the primary colors surrounding the part where all the board games are. I don’t mind this division. It makes is easier to find what you’re looking for but in terms of gender branding, it’s very, very bad. Now, I’ll admit it (even though I might anger some people) actually don’t mind that toys are very gender-specific. What’s wrong with girls wanting a fashion doll to dress up? And with boys wanting to crash toy trains and toy cars together? I really don’t see the big problem with all the pink tulle and glitter on toys that signals girlyness. I like the color pink and I’m damn proud of it. I don’t feel oppressed by it or feel that is telling me to be something I’m not. It’s pretty and that’s it. Anyways, with that out of the way, I do feel that it’s wrong for parents and society to forbid or look down on children who do want to play with toys that aren’t considered “appropriate? for their gender. However, that’s almost what is being said in the toy store, not only by the boxes where the toys are but also by the parents who dismiss a little girl for wanting a toy gun or a buy wanting a play cash register. However, the gender specific toys aren’t all over the plays. While in the aisle for baby toys, I noticed something...

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