Tuesday, 11 March 2008

A bit more on toys

I started this replying to Vanessa's comment on my Strutz piece below, but it was getting so long I thought I'd make it a blog post instead.

Vanessa. Ahem. Girls DO have an unnatural love for 4" stilettos. There are plastic dressing up shoes you can get, and we (or at least my dear daughter) had several pairs. If they'd have made them with stilettos, she'd have wanted them. And have been told no.

I agree with you and Susan about the creeping sexualisation of toys. I suppose it's all of a piece with the Tesco's pole-dancing kit for children, but I find this attitude utterly bizarre. It's not so much the manufacturers I find difficult to understand. They do, after all, want to sell things. It's why people buy them.

Though having said that it is a slippery slope and I am not guilt free myself. My own dear daughter had Bratz dolls as I thought them preferable to the plastic cuteness of Barbie. There's just something a tad self-righteous about Barbie. Interestingly, the main games daughter played with them the Bratz didn't really involve the dolls. She and her friend would build enormous houses for them out of whatever was handy in M's bedroom. The dolls rarely featured apart from as the odd bit of set-dressing if they had time at the end of the epic build.

However, I do have some quibbles over whether I did the right thing. I justified it to myself by saying that all her friends had them. She is a child to whom no is said a lot (my son would disagree). She knows she's not allowed what I think of as tarty clothes (skirts just covering the bum are absolutely out; hyper-short shorts also and thongs for children, ear rings, princess-type magazines ...... no no no no.) So Bratz, I rationalised it, were the compromise that I was prepared to make in the constant battle for me to fend off industry's best attempts to sell her the utterly inappropriate. I'm not sure I was right.

I feel I am on morally more certain ground when it comes to the T-shirt with the suggestive slogan, and I have seen a couple of these out in the wild. The owner of one of the companies involved said "Younger hipper parents are looking for something that's not the same, that has a little more attitude." If being young and hip is important to you, then why not dress yourself in these things, if you must, but why, why is it OK to dress a child in them? At least (I hope) the child has no idea what the slogans actually mean, but how is if fair, or ok, to have people looking at your child and reacting, because react they will, whether it's with horror or to laugh? And that objectifies your child. It makes your child the object of reactions it has done absolutely nothing to deserve. And that is not fair.

3 comments:

Juxtabook said...

It is absolute minefield this. I am jeans and sweater person and don't read women's magazines. We don't have a telly and my mother is a lace-ups and trouser suit person. So how has my 4 year old acquired a love of heeled shoes and plastic 'bling'? I do not know. She sees no one wear it yet begged my mother to get her a set of plastic dressing up heels and plastic banges. It could be worse I suppose. Funnily the one time she has seen me in heels (on the way to the evening reception of a wedding) she looked concerned and said, "Are you sure that's safe Mummy." So perhaps kids are as concerned about we wear and we are about them!

winnie said...

I can't believe Tescos are selling a pole dancing kit. That's a good enough reason never to go in there again,IMO.

Jane said...

juxtabook - I wish I knew. I am very very low maintenance indeed, but my daughter is anything but. Nature there possibly rather than nurture? Will we soon be told about the pink gene?

Winnie - to do them a very small bit of credit, they did pull the toy. But only, of course, AFTER the furore. Goodness knows what warped mind thought it was ok to start with.