Wednesday, October 8, 2008

What Happened to Sugar and Spice, and Everything Nice?

I've been shopping for Volcano's friends since his birth, but I'm always stumped when the gifts are for a girl. Since Volcano is the older of my children, I usually end up asking friends for advice and ideas. Or I'll ask my niece, who is 5 years older than Volcano. I know what boys like at age 6 or below, but girls' tastes are beyond my reach (until Monkey becomes that age).

So when I arrived at Target to shop for a girl classmate's birthday party, I was already confused. And as I looked over the products that lined the shelves, I felt a great frustration mounting. Gone were all traces of dolls, dress-up clothes, and princess toys that I would give to my own daughter. In their place were BRATZ!, Hannah Montana, and an array of other similar looking dolls and related merchandise. Then there's the "clothing" that they were wearing; half shirts, mini skirts, halter tops, high-heeled knee-high boots and other heeled shoes. On their faces were lipsticked smirks, eye-shadowed eyes, blush-drawn cheeks, and an overall attitude that was quite visible from their expressions. The name "BRATZ!" is self-explanatory. It reminds me of the twenty-something club girls who proudly display a "Zero to Bitch in 60 seconds" bumper sticker on their Miata. Is this what I have to look forward to for my own daughter?

I am finding it harder and harder to find wholesome toys and clothes for my niece or my own little girl, let alone to give to some little girl as a present from my son. Clothes, toys, and television shows (mainly Disney Channel's and Nickelodeon's shows) are more provocative by the minute. T-shirts that say "Flirt" or "Boys 'R' Toys" come in toddler sizes. Is this supposed to be funny? Or cute? I feel we are just sexualizing our little girls.

I won't allow my kids to play with a lot of the toys and games that are targeted for them at their own age simply because I believe that they are inappropriate. In Volcano's case, the toys are often too violent: toy weapons, explosives, or combative "action figures" make it difficult to find a suitable toy for my son. And t-shirts in his size reflect a slacker's attitude, or a misbehaving deliquent bragging about his latest trip to the principal's office. If the shirt doesn't say "Homework is for losers" on it, it has some WWF wrestler or some superhero from the latest PG-13 movie on it.

Society is telling us that girls should be sexpots and boys should be warriors. I just want them to be kids, as long as they are young enough.


Lanxi said...

I know what you mean! My daughter has a tiny little waist, but if I get her a skirt or shorts to fit, usually her butt hangs out the bottom.

I don't mind the weapons part. As a mom with 4 boys, they make guns out of legos or toast or whatever. So we have our arsenal (yup, that is what they call it) filled with almost every nerf gun made, and up the shelf we have air soft pellet guns. Boys will have that warrior urge unless we tell them not to, but girls don't really seem to display the hooker urge (until we let them dress like them).

Kally said...

I was worried at first about the whole Bratz thing but funny enough my little girl did NOT want them. At the age of 4, she informed me that Bratz dolls were inappropriate. Lucky me.

Heather @ A Boy, A Girl, A Pug said...

I totally agree. I won't buy anything violent for my son. He is just going to have to live with trucks, trains, and planes! As for the clothes, I haven't seen any like that but I just bought my daughter who is 9 months a little outfit at Babies R Us and when put it on her she looked like a little teenager. Kind of made me sad. I think I will just stick to dressing her in onesies. It makes her look younger:) I don't want my babies growing up to quickly!

clemmy said...

Love this post! As an aunt, it's always hard to find the right gift to give my neices and nephews. I've seen those "slacker" t-shirts; like it's cute to be an undisciplined brat. Well it's not!!