holiday gifts- 12.3.12
’Tis the season for consumer spending at its most frenetic. As we compile our lists, compare best bargains and either choose to brave the traffic jam that is the local mall’s parking lot, or decide to let our browser be our shopping vehicle, we are all, to differing extents, selecting the perfect gift for our loved ones.
If you have a young child in your life, you will relate to what I am about to say. And even though my children are all out of the toy phase, what I found on BuzzFeed today brought me back to those shopping days of searching through the pink and blue isles.
BuzzFeed tweeted a feature about the “16 Ways the Toy Industry is Stuck in the Stone Age.” Indeed, the side-by-side advertisements of girl and boy friendly toys powerfully sum up the ways in which we sculpt the minds and attitudes of our youngest consumers. I am not sure which of these toys and these ads most stuck in my craw. Was it the pink plastic vacuum cleaner that entices girls with the words “It really cleans dirt, just like mammy’s,” or the side-by-side telescopes and microscopes, with the pink “girl version” being much less powerful than the ones for boys?
Is it a surprise then that girls so often believe that science and math are “not for them”? It appears as if even the most curious and creative girl can only accomplish a fraction of what her brother can – that is, if her parents cave into the idea that for the microscope to appeal to their daughter, it must be pink.
What is a parent to do?
There is an emerging and ever-growing objection to limit our girls’ future by the influence of stereotypical toys. More and more, there are alternatives for parents – that celebrate girls without relegating them to the sidelines of science and engineering, of creativity and problem solving through play.
Have you heard of Goldie Blox, the new engineering toy designed specifically for girls? (I wrote about this new product a few blogs ago.) A woman engineer I recently spoke to was thrilled it has come on the market. Somewhat ruefully, she wished that when she was growing up, there had been an equivalent toy for her.
How about websites like Toward The Stars, that allow parents to purchase products that celebrate girlhood without demeaning the capabilities of girls’ developing brains? It takes a little doing to find these items, but with a little perseverance, it can be done.
I don’t have little girls in my own family anymore. No more pink aisles for me. But for the little girls whose lives I can influence in some ways, the ones in our Lower School, I have ordered four sets of Goldie Blox. Tinker away girls! Can’t wait to see what you build!
Monday December, 3, 2012
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