Time for another round-up of gendered kids’ items!
Will L. noticed something interesting recently at Old Navy. The boys’ section offered two styles of jeans, Skinny and Regular:
But when he looked at the corresponding section in the girls’ clothing, he found not Skinny and Regular, but Skinny and…Super Skinny:
Caro Reusch sent us an example of kids;’ t-shirts with messages about what we value for men and women. She saw the following at a mall in Berlin:
The blue one says “My daddy is stronger than yours,” while the pink announces, “My mommy is prettier than yours.”
Similarly, Lindsey B. saw two themed bibs for sale at Target. The blue bib is a doctor and the pink one is a ballerina:
Shantal Marshall, a postdoc student at UCLA with a Ph.D. in social psych and blogger at Smartie Pops, noticed that Crayola has a new product out, the Crayola Story Studio. It lets you upload a photo of yourself, have it turned into a cartoon, and then it’s inserted into one of 3 themed templates: Disney Princess, Spiderman, or Cars. You can then print off various versions of coloring books based on those templates. The commercial for the Spiderman version shows a boy excitedly becoming a superhero:
For the Disney Princess version, we see a girl excited to become a princess, then dancing in the background with her very own Prince Charming:
As Shantal said, it’s a bit dispiriting that Crayola’s slogan for these items is “give everything imaginable,” but the pre-existing templates, and their marketing, don’t seem to include an imaginable alternative to the “boys = superheroes” and “girls = princesses” division we see so often in kids’ toys.
Madelyn C. saw a store in Warsaw, Poland, that just goes ahead and makes the gendered division of the toy industry explicit:
Finally, Jessica M. sent in a link to a GOOD post by Christopher Mims about the Toy Industry Association’s 2011 Toy of the Year Awards. There are general categories of toys, such as educational, innovative, and action, but of course also girl and boy categories (also, I personally can’t think of “boy toy of the year” without thinking of Madonna’s outfit in her “Like a Virgin” performance at the first MTV Video Music Awards, but maybe the ’80s are sufficiently behind us that the phrase resonates differently for most people). Anyway, Mims discusses the gendered messages in the commercials for the nominees in the two categories. Among other things, the categorization is rather confusing. Hexbugs are nominated in the boy category, even though commercials for them show girls as well:
Also, Mims points out that the boys’ category “includes a strong undercurrent of Beyond Thunderdome via WWE.” Exhibit A: The commercial for Beyblade Metal Masters, “performance tops” to be used in “strategic battles”:
Playing with tops has gotten super hardcore, I guess. Probably they should look into a sponsorship from an energy drink.