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Does GoldieBlox’s ‘The Danger of Your Brain on Princess’ Campaign Need to Take it Down a Notch?

My daughters are all about the princesses lately. The Frozen princesses, in particular. If Elsa and Anna aren’t available, however, they’ll settle for a Cinderella, Sophia the First or Tinker Bell any day. They don’t discriminate; if she sparkles, has a tiara and flowing gown, they’re good to go.

Which is not to say they won’t get their hands dirty (I know this because I am the definition of insanity, telling them like a lunatic that they must wash their hands after going to the bathroom each and every time, even when my five-year-old declares she only had to wipe once). They like rain puddles, Lincoln Logs, Play-Doh and paint just as much as the next girl — or boy. I don’t worry my girls are condemned to an exclusive life of rainbows and unicorns (unless, of course, it’s a rainbow-pooping unicorn), because I know they’re well-rounded and not particularly apt to direct their sole attention from here to eternity to castles and treasures.

GoldieBlox, a toy line meant to get girls “interested in engineering, develop their spatial skills and build self-confidence in their problem-solving abilities,” exploded onto a toy shelf near you in 2012 thanks to Debbie Sterling, a female engineer from Stanford University. Sterling said she believes that engineers “can’t responsibly build our world’s future without the female perspective” — this, despite the fact that 89 percent of the world’s engineers are men.

“It’s about time we opened our girls’ minds beyond the pink aisle at the toy store,” the Goldie Blox website states.”It’s time to build a new story so our girls can help build our future.”

I’m all for the GoldieBlox concept. I even wrote about them last year. I get wanting to encourage girls to think outside the princess box and do it myself regularly. But I’m not a huge fan of GoldieBlox’s latest campaign, which warns of “the danger of your brain on princess.”

Photo credit: Meredith Carroll

Shortly after this photo was taken, my daughters ditched their wands and wings and built a pyramid out of elephant-shaped blocks. Photo credit: Meredith Carroll

The new GoldieBlox commercial (above) has some important facts, such as:

- Girls lose confidence in math and science as young as age seven.
- Only 13% of engineers are women.
- Female engineers make 33% more than women in other fields.

But why do they have to knock down imaginative play at the same time they’re encouraging more right-brained exploration? Can’t girls do both? If GoldieBlox really wants to put its money where its mouth is, then why not make their toys for girls in something other than shades of pink and other assorted pastels? How are GoldieBlox really any different than any of the other manufacturers trying to lure girls to their products simply by making them in girl-specific colors? Why not go a step further and make the colors appealing to kids of both genders? I think pink is fine. I know my kids like their Legos with bunny rabbits and ice cream cones, but they also just like Lego Legos. I’m fine with GoldieBlox being pink, but I find it offensive that they seem to think girls can’t be creative while also being more scientific-minded.

“Girls are more than just princesses,” the new GoldieBlox commercial avers. And then it goes on to show their toy box with a cartoon of a girl who has super-skinny arms, a teeny-tiny body and over-sized head and eyes. That was preceded by a shot of a girl coming out of a playhouse she presumably built that looks like suspiciously like Barbie’s Dream House. It also shows a different product shot of a cartoon girl wearing a tiara. You know what I like even less than princess bashers? Hypocrites.

Disney princesses have evolved. Frozen isn’t about being saved by a prince’s kiss; it’s about two sisters whose love for each other is what leads to their happy ending. Sofia the First? She’s primarily about kindness. How about Merida from Brave as a strong female lead? GoldieBlox has valid statistics about the lack of girls in the engineering field of math, but most of the girls I see playing princess aren’t doing it exclusively. And I’ve never known one personally who has not grown out of it.

Many girls might suffer poor body image and struggle in the science lab, but is that really Sleeping Beauty’s fault? And is giving them pastel-colored GoldieBlox really the solution? Or are they just another in “a selection of toys that, oddly, both challenges antiquated notions and plays to them deeply.”

By all means, let’s break out the beakers and bisectors for our girls. But let’s stop the needless princess bashing, GoldieBlox, when your true colors are just as pink.

Video credit: GoldieBlox/YouTube

More from Meredith on Babble:

Follow Meredith on Twitter and check out her regular column on the op-ed page of The Denver Post at MeredithCarroll.com

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