In the Pink?Rebekah Kuschmider
See this picture? The one on the left? That’s an awesome baby toy. It’s a classic. My son loved it when we got it for him five years ago. I think my sister and I had one when we were babies. I know I’ve seen them in dozens of houses with babies over the years. It has all the right elements — bright colors, easy to grasp, lots of different skills for a baby to practice, the top of the stacker post makes a great chew toy. What can be bad, right?
So why the hell does there need to be a second version of it in pink and purple?
I understand that there’s no way to totally avoid the genderizing of toys for babies and little kids. There are the Lego sets for girls and Disney Princess bikes alongside Spiderman ones. Stuffed animals and lovies come in pink and blue. It’s inescapable. But so we really need to go back and reinvent something as classic as a stacker toy and make one for girls and one for boys? Or rather, make one for girls and leave the original for boys. There’s no blue alternate for boys. It’s only girls who need to be singled out with a special color palate for no good reason. It’s so lame. I mean, the original toy is a rainbow! These colors are found in this order in nature and could, if you really stretch logic to a tortured conclusion, be considered an early science toy that teaches babies about the color spectrum!
There is nothing about this toy that needs to be “boy” or “girl.” It’s just a toy. Everyone can play with it and it’s fun. The same goes for the pink Etch-a-Sketch I saw recently. Totally unnecessary. Generations of children of both genders played with these toys and no one was the worse for the color scheme.
I’m probably some kind of toy Grinch who is being overly sensitive to dumb marketing ploys designed to sucker more money out of my wallet by making me think my daughter needs more pink in her world. But I’m kind of insulted by the girl-ification of toys and the message that girls need to be differentiated from boys from day one. It offends my feminist sensibilities: I think the playing field for both genders should be level and unisex. I don’t want my daughter’s earliest toys to tell her that she is different from her brother and needs to seek out girl things. I just want her toys to be fun.
The answer, of course, is for me to battle the marketing and buy her toys in whatever colors most appeal to me. As she gets older, I’ll tell her that colors don’t mean anything and she can like whatever she wants to like. I’ll tell her that she’s the only one who can say who she is, not toy makers, not advertisers, not other kids.There are no girl toys, no boys toys, just toys. That’s the same thing I tell my son when he declares the pink-bedecked toys aisles are “just for girls”. And I’m ready, willing, and able to do all of that. I just wish I didn’t have to. I wish we gave all kids the rainbow and let them choose their colors for themselves.
Photo credit: Amazon.com