Sleepless in the Toy Aisle

15 Nov

I haven’t slept in DAYS!! I swear my kids are in cahoots – they are taking turns waking up in the middle of the night and switching off rising way too early in the morning. They must have worked out a schedule or something because it all feels very deliberate.

This degree of tired I have not experienced since having a newborn. I’m angry tired. And I mention this because I’m wondering if this exhaustion-induced-rage contributed to my irritation in the toy aisle yesterday.

Now I’m no marketing expert, but as a consumer I am pretty clear on the mission: Make people think a certain way, feel a certain way and/or behave in a certain way. So join me please in listing all the things a child may think/feel/do in response to being fed these seemingly benign images. I’ll go first…

  1. The pink blocks are for girls
  2. The blue blocks are for boys
  3. Girls and boys have different toys
  4. Boys and girls should play with different things
  5. Girls and boys like different things
  6. The way girls play with building toys is unlike the way boys play with building toys.
  7. If I’m a boy, I should not be playing with those “girl toys”
  8. If I’m a girl, those “boy toys” are not for me
  9. We boys and girls must be pretty different
  10. We girls and boys are not expected to play together

Okay…your turn.


9 Responses to “Sleepless in the Toy Aisle”

  1. Ina Manaster November 15, 2011 at 11:11 am #


    • superheroprincess November 15, 2011 at 12:20 pm #

      Caps Lock – wow…you must feel like me 😉

      • Ina Manaster November 15, 2011 at 1:35 pm #

        You certainly make a compelling case.

  2. Ashley November 15, 2011 at 10:24 pm #

    It’s no wonder boys and girls think they are so different! And we start teaching kids very early on that something different doesn’t belong.

    I was struck by this while watching Blue’s Clues with my nephew earlier today. They were showing different groups of things (like fruits and vegetables) and saying “this one is different, so it doesn’t belong.” Obviously the goal was to try and teach kids to recognize similarities and differences, and doing it with vegetables seems innocent enough. But I wonder if messages like this sometimes get ingrained in kids and generalized in negative ways? We teach them that different doesn’t belong, and how do they know not to apply this concept to people?

    • superheroprincess November 16, 2011 at 6:58 am #

      Great point Ashley!
      Looking forward to your guest blog post!!

    • Elizabeth R. Ross February 20, 2012 at 1:53 am #

      There are lots gender free toys for children–just not at Toys R Us, Walmart, Target, etc. For example, I have a set of wooden Froebel blocks in my classroom. They are over 30 years old and they have enchanted children for years. They are the favorite items in my classroom with both boys and girls. And boys and girls do play together with them. They build clever environments, houses, castles, towers, and the list goes on and on. They often use the small wooden blocks as a telephone and call mom or a friend. And yes the curved ones have been pistols and the long ones automatic rifles. Sometimes they are dolls, babies, mommies, daddies, big brothers and little sisters and other times they are used as skates, guitars, drums…………………………………..

    • Concepcion March 16, 2014 at 2:11 am #

      en in het echt nog mooier :)ps als mila en sofia nog wat hujsies over hebben die mooie van mila hangt nu tijdelijk in onze supergrote kerstboom (bijna 4m), maar hebben plek voor nog wel een paar

  3. Miss Demure Restraint November 18, 2011 at 1:20 am #

    From the cradle to the grave, society is endlessly shoving us into the appropriate box. It’s little wonder children are confused and rebel.

    A very insightful post . . . perhaps it should be required reading for the marketing industry.

    • Hillary Manaster November 18, 2011 at 7:00 am #

      That’s a great point you make about confusion and rebellion. I hadn’t really thought of it in that way. Who wants to constantly be told what to do and what to like?? So frustrating (at any age).

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