Little Girls Are Not Little Women
When we lived in a tiny apartment, the hall was a parking lot for riding toys that had to be carried up and down three flights of stairs. A friend once gave the kids 26 tiny blocks that opened to reveal 26 tiny toys (an apple inside the A block or a bear inside the B block, for example). Besides the choking hazard, stepping on that cute little apple with bare feet at night was excruciating. Years later I was still finding the tiny moose for M or the tiny zebra for Z under furniture cushions.
One year the kids’ grandparents (on my husband’s side) gave them each a yellow helmet with a revolving red light on top and a siren. They thought the kids could use them when we skied.
But the most disgusting toy of all was the baby doll that ingested food and then filled her diaper. What crazy person came up with that? I fumed. Like I didn’t have enough to do with real babies! This thoughtful gift was provided by the grandparents on my side of the family. My husband immediately dubbed the doll “Baby Crapalot.”
Well, time marches on, and there has been no end to inappropriate, useless, or disgusting toys, which I still can’t believe are bought by the child’s actual parents. But I have to say that currently, at the top of the toys I hate, is the doll that nurses.
The doll is just being introduced into the United States, and I watched the bright, glib TV psychologist explain how this new doll will help little girls feel good about their bodies and breast feeding years from now. I’m not a psychologist, but watching the commercial for this doll gives me the same queasy feeling I get when I catch a glimpse of little girl beauty pageants.
I’ve written before about the sexualization of little girls and advertising that targets very young children. Of interest is an article in yesterday’s NY Times entitled, “Daughter Leads, Mom Follows in Fashion Sync.” The article notes that “fashion industry observers say many ordinary mothers are following their daughters’ style lead these days.” Says Joanne Arbuckle, dean of the School of Art and Design at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology, “The lines are all blurred today. It’s not about,‘You’re this age, and this is what you do.’”
I must respectfully disagree with Dean Arbuckle. Little girls are not adults. Adults are not little girls. Each should have her own age-appropriate clothes – and toys.