Our almost-4-year-old daughter has pink and purple a truck. A friend of mine gave it to her, and it annoys me every time I see it.
She loves playing with trucks, but why does it have to be in "girl" colors? The
girl can handle some orange. Or some black.
Ironically, my friend actually
ordered it in the blue-red version, but the pastel one showed up anyway. It's
like the Amazon gods sensed that it was purchased with a girl in mind and
autocorrected the order to what they thought she would prefer.
It's not that I'm against stereotypically girly toys; stuffed
animals and play kitchens are hot tickets in our nearly all-female household.
But they can have their place with girls and
boys, can't they? Just like crashing cars, basketballs and messy science kits
can find happy homes with the XX crowd just as easily as with the XY. I'm not
saying that boys have to play with E-Z Bake Ovens and girls need to wear camo,
but let's mix it up a little bit. (Target agrees; in August, they announced they'd be phasing out gender-based signage in stores.)
So I was psyched when I learned about the Go! Go! Sports Girl line of dolls.
Gracie the Tennis Player, Taye the Basketball Star and Sam the Softball Player
are age- and size-appropriate soft dolls who come with books detailing their
athletic endeavors. Our daughter has Ella the Runner Girl, who "loves to
run fast! Before running, Ella always puts on sunscreen and stretches. She
drinks plenty of water and between races will have a healthy snack, like a
banana. When she is not running, Ella likes riding her bike and writing in her
journal." If you peek under Ella's tee shirt, you'll see her secret tummy
message, which reads "Dream Big Run Fast." (Geena Davis, Peggy
Orenstein and Amy Poehler have all tweeted in support of the line's new "Athlete is the
New Princess" campaign.)
Interested in some other cool toys that will help your
kids smash gender stereotypes without even realizing it? (Kids of all genders can enjoy all of these, BTW.) Read on:
We have these at our house, but I never thought of them as particularly feminist. But when you think about it, architecture, construction and real estate continue to be male-dominated professions, so it's cool to see girls playing with toys that allow them to create new structures and erect buildings. I will now watch with a newfound appreciation as our girls play with these. Age 3+, $51.50 for a 32-piece set. There's also a $59.99 toddler-specific line called People Blocks.
Lottie the doll isn't into makeup or high heels; she favors
comfortable play clothes over fancy jewelry, and she has real 9-year-old
body proportions—meaning if she were a real person, she would actually be
able to stand up without her 36DDs forcing her to topple over. There's Fossil
Hunter Lottie, Stargazer Lottie, Kawaii Karate Lottie, Muddy Puddles Lottie …and
all of them come with related activities pages. ("How to identify fossils"; "Turn a tea bag into a rocket"; "Grow your own
sunflower"; etc.) Age 3-9, $19.95 and up.
Photograph by: Lottie
the boy who is hesitant to play with dolls (but wants to):
and mom Laurel Wider couldn't believe it when her son returned from preschool
and declared, "Boys aren't supposed to cry." Wider
was familiar with research showing that strong relationships and the ability to
connect emotionally are critical to happy, healthy lives. But she also
recognized that dolls—the toys that most effectively model friendship and
empathy—are almost solely marketed to girls. So Wider created Wonder
Crew. Crewmates blend "the
adventure of an action figure with the emotional connection of the favorite
stuffed animal." Each doll comes with a matching "adventure gear" outfit
for his owner to wear. (Currently, there's a superhero and a construction
builder.) Age 3-6, starting at $19.99.
Photograph by: Wonder Crew
the kid who digs history or likes learning about inspiring women:
Think of these as gateway toys into history. With the help of 3D
imaging, these dolls are designed to resemble Amelia Earhart, Olympic medal winner and LGPA founder Babe Didrikson Zaharias, Bessie Coleman, Harriet
Tubman and other historic female game-changers, right down to facial
characteristics and attire. The figures come with related toys, activities and a bio, all of which allow girls
to learn more about the life of these inspiring
heroines, without it feeling like they're slogging though homework. Their
tagline? "Kids, especially girls, can do or be anything they want." Which would
you rather your daughter have: A Barbie doll, or Dr. Dot Richardson, the surgeon who also became
an Olympic gold-medal shortstop during a time when everyone said, "Girls don't
play baseball"? Age 8-12, $39.99.
Turn your kid into a crime-solver with this kit that has
everything an aspiring detective might need to solve a mystery: Magnifying
glass, rearview glasses, fingerprint kit (dusting brush, print powder, lifting
tapes, ink pad), spy glasses, mini UV light and more. Ages 8+; $19.99
You may have seen Roominate on "Shark Tank," when the two
female creators (both engineers) fielded offers from all five sharks. It's a customizable line of modular pieces that allow kids to create townhouses, amusement parks, cars, etc, then hook
them up using the included motors and other circuitry. Roominate's mission is "to
inspire the next generation to have fun with STEM subjects: Science,
Technology, Engineering and Math, and to help develop spatial and fine motor
skills, engage hands-on problem solving skills, boost self-confidence and teach
basic circuitry." What your little girls will think: COOL. Age 6 years+,
Photograph by: Roominate
For the new
mom who will be cooped up with her kids this winter:
doesn't love a monthly subscription box? This kid-friendly version comes with
toys, games and books curated
by a team of child psychologists, pediatricians, educators and more,
intended to spur budding minds age birth to 3 years old. The packages are
gender-neutral, and items are sourced from companies like Melissa &
Doug, Macmillian Children's Publishing Group, Infantino and Lamaze. Age birth to 3; $99 for one box or $349 for four boxes annually.
GoldieBlox's goal is to get girls building. Their CEO says she never even knew what engineering was until her high school math teacher suggested it as a potential college major. Playing on girls' tendency toward strong verbal skills and our love of stories and characters, GoldieBlox uses fun-to-say characters (Katinka the Dolphin; Benjamin Cranklin, the angry cat) to draw kids in and get them building all sorts of machines. (I speak from experience; our house is littered with rubber Katinkas.) Ages 4 and up; prices vary.