When I was a kid, my family would always buy me all kinds of toys on my birthday. The gifts would range from awesome Lego sets, to those little matchbox hot-wheels cars and a bunch of other weird toys that required a lot of building and thought. My cousin, however (and it’s worth mentioning that she’s a girl), used to receive barbie dolls – naturally – and a cute make up kit or those creepy plastic babies that cry and stuff.
Although I did like most of my “boyish” toys, I also loved my sister’s Barbie dolls, and the fact that they weren’t supposed to be something I could play with did not stop me. I just never understood why I didn’t get a Barbie or a Bratz doll like my sister. When my sister and our neighbor got together to play with them, I always ended up having to play Ken, even though I would’ve enjoyed dressing the Barbie in the flowery dress or unbraiding the Bratz’ hair.
I also find that very interesting now, because I used to receive a lot of super hero merchandise for characters I had never heard of or never really watched on TV. I would’ve rather had an Ariel or Belle doll, instead of a Spider-Man action figure. The Spider-Man wasn’t entirely horrible, but I only ended up playing with him only when I played matchmaker with him and my sister’s blonde and skinny counterpart.
I also find it a little depressing now to look at my younger cousins and the toys that they get for their birthdays. I was always a big fan of Lego (and definitely still am), but I also love it when I see other kids put the bricks together. So far, I haven’t really seen any of my cousins play with Lego, simply because they’re all girls. When I asked my uncle why he didn’t get his daughters Lego instead of Barbies – seeing as he’s a big fan of Lego – he replied by saying, “they just don’t like it. I’ve tried, but Lego doesn’t work with girls. They just want Barbies and stuff like that.” It really breaks my heart every time I remember him telling me that. I though gendered-marketing was an outdated concept, but apparently, it’s only just starting to flourish.
Another interesting thing about Lego, is that their old ads usually consisted of two boys and maybe one girl, building a tower out of Lego blocks together. Now, however, they’ve created a new collection of “girlish” Lego sets, with a group of girlfriends who each own a pet salon, a pool house or something of that sort. And, unsurprisingly, more girls flocked to their stores and overall, Lego benefited. Gendered-marketing is a perfect strategy to gain more money and earn maximum profit.
We still see traces of this gendered-marketing concept when we grow up, too. What with deodorants, shaving creams, razors and lip balms being separated into for himand for her, even though the products serve the exact same purpose for both. And similarly, my sister bought herself a cute dog-themed onesie and me a batman one, which I like, but I know I would’ve preferred a unicorn one. Unfortunately though, it’s too girly for me.
I really hope people realize that not all girls like dolls and not all boys like cars. The world isn’t pink and blue, nor is it girls and boys. I don’t want my kids – that is, if I have any – to hide when they want to play with something they’re not really allowed to play with, like I did when I wanted to play with my sister’s toys. Get your girls and boys cars and trucks for their birthdays, and get them both barbie dolls too; it’s not like a boy who likes Barbie and a girl who likes Hot Wheels will end up being a psychopath. They might end up actually having fun, instead.