Neutralizing Gender Equality In The Toy World – When Will Barbie Get It?

I was compelled to reason with a mother’s emotional post recently and I think that it should be shared with good reason to urge toy companies to rethink the way they market toys today. Scrolling though mommy groups on Facebook, I often do not stop and read the lengthy ones, but this one was different because quite simply it was written almost as if I myself had written it. The authors words and heart felt emotion is something I have related to for the last 10 years of my first born son’s life, a sad truth that many boys have questioned and felt ashamed of at some point in their childhood.

The mother of a 4 year old boy who, like my son, loves to play with the ever popular Barbie and is being sent signals that only girls can play with them. When my own son was 4 he was obsessed with these dolls and would spend hours dressing them up and role playing, we went to all of the movie releases and even took part in a couple of ‘Pink Carpet’ events. His world of course came crashing down when society would question as to why he liked them, or if our parenting was too evolved to even be considered a playdate with some of his classmates. It’s sad enough that kids have to live in a world that fosters inclusion but never actually submits to it – don’t you think?

I was super excited to see Barbie partner with Moschino 2 years ago, featuring a little boy in their ads however I do not think that the entire world of ‘girl marketed toys’ has accepted the fact that boys are in fact a huge part of their revenue. Would it be so hard to just have children of all sexes play in the commercials, or featured on the packaging?

I know what you are thinking…

Some toys are for girls and some toys are for boys, just leave it at that – this would be true if we date back to the 1940’s but today? Come on!

Read this, and tell me that your heart doesn’t break for this little boy:

After our son cried yet again after seeing a commercial for a Barbie contest, I wrote this letter to Mattel. To whom it may concern, I grew up playing with Barbies, as did my siblings, my mother and aunt. We had hours of enjoyment through this make believe play. It was a chance to be creative, imaginative and above all else, be ourselves. When a child can delve into a world of such wonderful imagination it can help in so many areas of development including their self esteem.

In 2012 we had our beautiful second child. A child with such a kind and beautiful heart, an old gentle soul. A child who has always shown preference to the softer, more creative forms of play. For Christmas a Barbie was the first thing on their list from Santa. Barbie movies and shows are a favourite, and as mentioned above, the imagination and creativity expressed through playing with Barbies, brings our soft spoken child to life. Recently our child told us about a commercial advertising a contest to show Dads and Daughters playing with Barbies. And this is where the problem begins. Our child is a boy.

Purely through your advertisement he has lost some self confidence as he is not a daughter. And at only 4 years old has asked why ‘you’ would do that. I understand in the fine print of the rules that boys can apply, but it is not very inviting when all of the promotion of this contest is geared towards daughters. My son has a fantastic father who plays Barbies with him often, he would have been a perfect candidate to apply but has been so discouraged.

His name is Max. And isn’t it sad that at such a young age he was already too embarrassed to tell his friends and teachers that he wanted a Barbie for Christmas? Society has become such strong advocates for gender, gender identification and gender equality, yet advertisements like this impact some children in such a negative way.

So you now have one less child applying to your contest. A child who walked away from our computer in tears as he asked why it said ‘Daughters’ in big letters. Let’s promote just being good people and making a positive impact on society despite our gender, race or beliefs. Can we not encourage our children to express themselves in what ever way they feel comfortable and help to empower them?

We don’t need more walls up in our society.

We need inclusion.

From a very sad Barbie loving Mother and son.

Lindsay and Max

Do your boys play with toys marketed towards girls? What do you think of neutralizing the toy market, is it necessary?

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