Stereotyped Clothing

Snarky t-shirts or play-on-words commentary clothing is nothing new. In fact, I think I may have even worn a button or two in my teen years with a less-than-polite statement. I haven’t really given it much thought with regards to my daughter’s clothing because its not something that I have encountered yet; well, until now.


A brief aside. . . I am, first of all, so grateful for the numerous hand-me-downs that have kept the girls clothed so far. With such generous family and friends looking out for our fledgling family, the savings on clothes that the girls outgrow in just a few months is so appreciated. It is from this place of gratitude that I fill their drawers and closet with clothes that are just right for the weather and their size.


I have no idea whose hand-me-down play suit Moon was wearing, but I do remember choosing it because it looked comfy and warm enough for playing in on a windy day. I threw a sweater over it and off to the park we went. So, it wasn’t until I was nursing Moon back at home later in the day that I looked down at her turned in arm to see her sleeve. A small decorative patch stating “Born to Shop” adorned it, with a second patch right next to it – “non-stop”.


It’s Just Clothes
Some may argue that these little sayings are only meant to be cute and are, in the end, harmless. Seven month-old infants don’t read yet, and the statement is indeed meaningless to Moon.


To that I say, I can read, and it’s not meaningless to me. To me, this declaration of purpose means that some people in society hold very low expectations of who my daughter is, can, or will be.


Rather than throw this play outfit out, I’m going to keep it in my closet as a reminder to myself for now – a reminder of the types of messages my daughters will face, and the expectations some may have of them throughout their lives. More importantly, it will be a reminder that children are born to play, to be curious, to think, and to wonder.


What do you think? Do you take notice of these kinds of messages?

Riley on Marketing

One of my facebook friends posted this video on his wall (I do realize that it’s a few months old, but it’s the first time I’ve seen it), and I completely agree with what this kid has to say about how toys are/have been marketed to children. It’s good to know that some kids are taking a stand and not limiting themselves to what they’re “supposed” to play with, and kudos to Riley’s parents for supporting her!

Sorting the Holiday Gifts: Generous but Gendered

Fisher Price Toy Carriage

On the morning following Christmas, I was recovering from a late evening filled with the type of holiday drama usually reserved for television specials. It was raining, and so we did not bring in any of my daughter’s Christmas gifts, save one.

Now, when we are the ones choosing toys for Greysen to play with, Mike and I follow a few simple guidelines. We know toys are important for her development, but I have not yet fully considered how they may affect her self-identification. In her book, Child, Family, and Community: Family-Centered Early Care and Education (5th Edition) Janet Gonzalez-Mena brings attention to the fact that, “toys play an important part in defining gender roles.” With this in mind, I sit down and watch Greysen move the carriage back and forth. I’m torn between her growing interest in the toy and my concern over the plethora of gender-stereotypical messages this one toy sends. I ask myself, does the theme of this toy really matter?

The Toy in Question

Greysen was given a horse-drawn carriage. A kind and thoughtful gift from a loving family member, the giver remembered that we do not own battery-operated, single-purpose toys. As such, she watched eagerly as Greysen slowly ripped the gift wrapping, revealing the toy within, the Fisher-Price Little People Build ‘n Drive Carriage.

The horse-drawn carriage is part of the “Little People” toy line, which features oversized people and blocks that are easy for younger children to manipulate.

The pink and lavender carriage, with heart-shaped center-capped wheels, rolls easily as my nine month-old daughter pushes it back and forth. The white horse has a long mane, a pink flowered bridle and a heart-themed blanket. A princess and prince sit at the reigns of the carriage. This charmed couple is round and safely stays in my daughter’s hands while she tries to put each of them in her mouth.

Pleased that my daughter now has a few building blocks which she can take apart, put together, and use to create multiple play scenarios, I cringe at one single property that again defies our toy guidelines – color. The blocks, for no other reason than that this set has been determined to be a “girls’ toy” are in shades of pink, purple, baby blue, and embedded with glitter.

Color alone is not going to send my daughter the message that she cannot be or do anything when she grows up, but I can not help but wonder how her toys, as a collection, will affect her belief in female stereotypes.

In the classroom, my biggest gripe with toy color was that they were most often offered only in primary colors. Somehow that choice seems infinitely better than the one I’m faced with now. I still have several questions: How rigidly do I adhere to the guidelines Mike and I have set for her childhood? Is she old enough to really be impacted by the design of the toy? Is the fact that it was a gift more important than the possible concerns I have regarding this toy? I find solace in the big picture. Again, Gonzalez-Mena brings balance to my concerns in Child, Family, and Community: Family-Centered Early Care and Education (5th Edition) by acknowledging the importance of what children play with, but also by emphasizing the importance of whom they play with, especially as they age.