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December 18, 2009


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Amy U

I remember when I was pregnant with my daughter. I had received a gift certificate for JCPenney to buy her something. I went into the baby girl dept and literally left in tears.....EVERYTHING was PINK! No exaggeration. Pink, frilly, lacy. I bought nothing but it was a depressing eye opener.
At the age of 4 1/2, she truly enjoys wearing dresses, tights, etc. She comes home talking about what others are wearing, both the boys and the girls. I am not so feminine. More of a tomboy. But, I like that she's made these choices for herself.

Greg L.

My good friend from undergrad at Vassar, Dr. Annie, aggressively kept her two daughters from all the pink girl-marketed toys until the oldest was about 6, when Grandaunt gave them barbie dolls. And zoinks! did they love them.
I remember her ranting about how they were now picking out barbies at the thrift stores.
Since they also did not have television, it was an interesting Skinner-ian experiment. (Although, to be fair, she wasn't trying for the Skinner box thing. She was just outraged.)
I'm not sure our mini-strides here in educated land are going to change this phenomenon any time soon. It's easy to market to gender roles, and not so easy to market to grey areas. It makes packaging tough. And when was the last time a Vassar grad became a toy developer for Mattel? Actually, I think I'll go research that.

Greg L.

Tell that he's smoking crack and needs to travel to Akron. Or Worcester. or anywhere in New Hampshire. The fact that all the packaging is in American English is all you need to know for evidence of it's NOT a china thing.

And the "Girls Only" label is insane! I had missed that first time through. Who's doing this design? Glenn Beck? A cranky 90 year old who misses pre-WWII life? wtf?

Seriously, this is a huge silent American cultural divide, that can be tied to the insane hatred of Hilary Clinton and the prosecution of Martha Stewart. It's like the effect of the pervasive warrior dreams of the 80s Rambo culture on the election of GW Bush and the 2nd invasion of Iraq.


I felt compelled to respond to this because I work in the toy industry and I worry all the time that we are perpetuating gender stereostypes with the toys that we make. If it makes you feel any better we make many toys, like kitchens and vacuums, gender neutral because we know that it's not a 'girls only' activity. Most preschool toys are also gender neutral. It's really when they get older that you see such an incredible difference. The truth is, a store is not going to take a chance at selling a fashion doll for boys. (that's an extreme example, but you catch my drift). I think it's more a chicken and the egg thang. The stores sell what they think girls and boys want, but do boys and girls only want what the stores are telling them they should want? So hard to say. I think if we instill the values we want to instill in our children, they'll turn out all right no matter what they play with :-) I hope!

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  • Kristin Bair O'Keeffe

Kristin Bair O'Keeffe
Shanghai, China

I live in Shanghai, China, with my Irish
husband and Vietnamese daughter.
Throughout the past four years, I've
crisscrossed the globe more times than
I can count, and while doing so, have
discovered what a kooky, miraculous,
and lovely place our world is. My experiences
enlighten me, inspire me, and crack me up.