This really, really irritates me. More than irritates me – This really makes me mad. In case you can’t zoom in enough to see, on the left we have the “Fun to Fix Gift Set” and on the right the “Little Glamour Gift Set.”
Let’s break it down: As with most baby toys, you have two options, 1. Unisex; or 2. GIRLY GIRL WITH HEARTS AND SPARKLES.
The “Fun to Fix Gift Set” comes in bright, “unisex” primary colours and is demonstrated by a unisex model baby dressed in pale green waving the toy actively.
The “Little Glamour Gift Set” makes no pretenses about being unisex: demonstrated by a baby girl in a hairband passively smiling at her “diamond” bracelet, the toys are pink and purple with a splash of turquoise and of course a GIANT SPARKLY DIAMOND. The description at www.toysrus.ca reads, “3 glam accessories for that oh-so sweet little one! Give a little glam and – just to be practical – teethable, easy-to-grasp features. Set includes Baby’s First Purse, a Diamond Ring Rattle and two teethers where fashion style meets teething comfort!” (emphases mine). There’s no need to be “practical” of course when it comes to sweet little girls, but hey, they threw that in there as a bonus; “glam” on the other hand is clearly a necessity.
I hate the idea that someone buying a gift for a baby shower walks up to an eye level display that tells them that an appropriate toy for an infant “Aged 3-18 months” is a “diamond ring rattle” and “baby’s first purse!” It’s with only a little hyperbole that I say it’s a hop, skip and a jump, followed by a slow twirl and a flash of whitened teeth in a make-up caked face at the judges, to the pageant world of our favourite train wreck of a TLC show, Toddlers and Tiaras.
The show is considered by those who watch in amused disgust to be so ridiculous that there is even an app on the website where you can “Toddlerize” yourself:
Go for the Supreme Glitz Makeover!
Go from drab to fab with big wigs, sparkly hair-wear,
faux diamonds and more! Mix and match until you’ve
created the ultimate glam-over!
There’s that “glam” again – in this case, high-lighting the over-the-top-ness of “glamming” up your toddler to compete for “Ultimate Grand Supreme” or even better, “Living Doll,” (seriously. click on the link. it’s a real thing.) with its prize of “crowns and mon-nay,” but not so funny after all when you look back at the mainstream toy encouraging you not once but twice to give a little “glam” to your 3-18 month-old.
We have tried really, really hard not to raise a Disney Princess. Ben and Molly play together with their trains, blocks, dollhouse, Playmobil, toy kitchen, dolls, and dress-up chest filled with astronaut, pirate, doctor, chef, firefighter, and fairy costumes. But you can’t necessarily fight nature, and like it or not I have one of the girliest little girls who every reigned as Princess of Girlytown – at 2 Molly insists on choosing her own clothes and 9 times out of 10 her outfit will be monochomatic bubblegum pink. (That 10th time is when all of the pink clothes are in the laundry and I won’t let her wear PJs).
But while I’m happy for her (and Ben, but that’s a whole other post) to wear as much pink and sparkles as she likes (including pink sparkly skull and crossbones nails from the Sally Hansen Salon Effects Avril Lavigne collection. Just awesome), and I don’t think there is anything inherently damaging in sparkly dress-up and accessories in and of themselves…
…I still want to make sure she knows that looks and “glam” and diamond rattles aren’t the only important thing. And I’m happy that for the most part that we’ve “come a long way, baby”…
…and moved beyond a time when girls concentrated on looking pretty and waiting passively to “make a good match” or packed their bags and went proudly (and prettily) off to university to earn an M.R.S.
But products like the “Little Glamour Gift Set” remind me that we still place a heck of a lot of emphasis on how our little girls look and dress, which teaches them that that is where their true value lies, and it doesn’t take a rocket surgeon or a sociologist to tell you that that is damaging.
So I will take this as a reminder to make sure to balance my “Aww, you look so pretty!“s with a healthy dose of, “You worked so hard on that!“s, “That was such kind sharing!,”s and “Wow, what smart problem-solving, Monkey!“s.