Bratz are problematic for many reasons, but mostly because they sexualize young girls via the clothes, makeup and hair options. This new toy takes the sexism up a few notches. Not only do you get a hypersexualized doll in a short dress, but you also get an accompanying selfie stick, complete with exaggerated kissy lips. What better way to teach your young daughter that her value comes from the way she looks (and make sure to share that with others!). While selfies in and of themselves can actually be empowering and important, the way Bratz is packing them up belies the superficiality that can easily weave its way into the practice.
Most kids love to play pretend and dress up/act like grown-ups, but most are fairly content to use things they've found around the house. That way they're able to use their imagination and create their own scripts for how they see themselves in the world. Kidoozie's My First Purse takes a love of dress-up and puts a horribly sexist spin on it. The purse contains superficial things like a mirror, lipstick, phone and credit card. They're all stereotypically "girlie" things and box kids in, either by alienating boys or by prescribing to girls things that should be of value. Why not find an awesome purse at the thrift store, add a notebook and pen to it, some old sunglasses and a pack of mints, and let your kids' imaginations run wild rather than subjecting them to this sexist plastic junk?
There's absolutely nothing wrong with kids playing house. I even encouraged my son's penchant for sweeping when he was 3. However, when you make everything Pepto-Bismol pink and portray a loving mother-daughter combo in the pictures, there's a very real, very dangerous message being sent: These toys are "just like home," where mom is responsible for cleaning the house. While the company offers other sets in green, blue and orange, none of those are accompanied by pictures of dads enjoying the heck out of housework. Hmm...
Art supplies are always perfect gifts... unless they're not so subtly infused with a glitter load of sexism. Because apparently we can't just let crayons be crayons, Crayola has decided to market "hot heels" crayons to young girls, instilling a desire for painful, foot-crunching stilettos from a young age. You like art? Sure! But you're a girl, so you'll like shoes even better. The tired stereotypes of girls loving only fashion and then pushing high heels — the pinnacle of pain in fashion — simply stinks.
For some reason, when it comes to the worst offenders, coloring and activity books seem to top the list. Instead of just regular old coloring books or activity books for everyone and anyone, most are gendered. And they're gendered in a way that tends to center boys as active, smart and aware and girls as passive, tame and being concerned only with beauty. By now I think we all know that kids are kids and that boys can like pink and girls can like playing with cars, and these types of books need to go die in a fire.
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