Posts Tagged ‘parenting’
Folks by the dozen are sending me this, but I haven’t posted on it and won’t be starting the requested petition because I’m more interested in changing the conversation than leading one that goes “OMG this is so wrong. Who would buy this!?”
I have no idea why stores carry nor who would buy a sexy t-shirt for their baby. If it is supposed to be a joke, I guess it is as funny as racism and sexism are….not at all. I don’t see the funny in parents being willfully ignorant when it comes to the sexualization of their children. And I’m tired of doing blog posts that contain stories that get picked up by national news media with no mention or credit to me or the work Pigtail Pals & Ballcap Buddies is doing.
The conversation needs to shift to the companies that are doing it right. PPBB carries over THIRTY designs that lift up and empower kids. The conversation needs to shift to experts telling parents the why’s and how’s of the harms of sexualization. Maybe if we start talking about healthier choices and the folks like us who are doing it right, the companies in the wrong will stick out to parents that much more. At the end of the day, are we just complaining and expressing faux outrage, or are we educating and making change?
Educate people about Pigtail Pals & Ballcap Buddies, our apparel and our advocacy.
And when you see something damaging to childhood, use what you know about sexualization and body image to move off social media and contact the players involved in the making and selling of this constant stream of garbage.
Fifteen minutes of internet research found that this onesie is part of Bon Bebe’s “Wild Child” line, described as “outrageously funny” and “some are cute, some have attitude”. And many are sexualizing and make the unknowing child the butt of the joke. Aren’t some parents clever?
Bon Bebe has removed their contact info from their website, save but this phone number 1-877-3BONBEBE. Ask for Elan Rofe, the president or Michael Levine, the national sales manager.
Their address is 112 W 34th St, #1908 New York, New York 10120.
While I’m sure other store’s carry this tee and its offensive cousins from the Wild Child line, Gordmans is the one at the center of this controversy.
12100 W. Center Rd.
Omaha, NE 68144
Ph: (402) 691-4000
We enjoyed the evening at a park watching the sun set while the kids played and splashed in the stream. A group quickly formed, with the older girls initiating a building project on a rock in the stream while the little brothers brought them giant handfuls of sand. The girls would get the sand wet, and then drip it onto the tower that was forming. During this a girl walked up in an all-pink and sparkly outfit, tiara headband thing, complete with white tutu and white heeled sandals. The girl then proceeded to kick off her heels, and get right into the mix, getting wet and grimy from the sand and even became the leader of the project. A bit later I watched her climb to the top of a nine foot log in her heels. She wasn’t able to run or climb as well as the other kids, but she was right in the thick of it.
Her outfit isn’t something I’d send Amelia in to the park to play and explore, but it was an important reminder for me that we can look critically at media and products for our kids, but we need to see the child first and foremost. We can disapprove of the inappropriateness of girls clothing without disapproving of the girl. If there is one thing this group knows, it is the limitlessness of how amazing our girls can be. No matter what they are wearing.
When I posted this on facebook last night, a large discussion followed mostly from moms defending their daughter’s right to be a princess. I agree, their daughter has the right to be a princess…..and a doctor and a potter and a organic pepper farmer. I’m anti-limitation, and that’s it. My issue isn’t with sparkles and tutus. It is with the limitation of play and movement that girls apparel can create. I replied with this:
“I love childhood. I love the little people who compose it. But when we teach half of those people that their role is to be pretty and sweet and to act in a certain prescribed way, I have issues. Certainly, we can redefine what “princess” means in their play and many of us do. But there is a larger cultural context that is much harder to escape, and one which “little girl princess” becomes the gateway drug to the fast-forwarded tween years and the age compression, Beauty Myth, and consumerism we see going on. (Ultimately, no matter how you play, being a princess is about entitlement, which I’m not big on.) I love me some sparkle and bling and fair wings. Both Ben and Amelia have been known to rock that look. And my kids wear super hero masks and take magic wands to the park, so I can’t very well be snarky about a tutu and some sparkle.
But what I do have issue with is the restriction of movement and play. A visual example of this is the video I posted in the beginning of the week that shows young teen girls on the soccer field at play, only to be brainwashed by the beauty messages coming over the loud speaker and leave the field teetering in heels and hot pants. The Beauty Myth is constricting, both emotionally and physically, and that is my focus here.
I’ve seen girls tear around in dresses or skirts or fancy outfits, so that isn’t an issue for me. I tend to offer my kids soft leggings or jeans and t-shirts to romp in, but to each their own. My issue is the shoes, or the outfit that is so fancy the girl might not want (or not be allowed) to get dirty. Amelia has and loves her sparkle shoes, and didn’t mind when she busted the sparkles off while playing on the playground. If she had become fussy about that, she would have been told to leave them at home for dress up and get her sneakers on. Play is the work of the child, and she needs to dress appropriately for work. If what she is wearing inhibits her play and her gross motor movement during play, then she is asked to change. We see how skimpy and tight older girls clothing is, and the ridiculousness of their shoes. I hear time and again from coaches and dance teachers how oddly some girls move their bodies, because they are used to standing still and being pretty due to restricting clothing. I remember seeing this myself when I was a teacher of elementary girls wearing tight, low cut jeans and belly shirts. They had to stand perfectly still in order for the outfit to work. When we know sports (including dance) to be a partial cure to the wretched body image stats we see coming out of the 8-18yo demographic, I connect the limiting of movement and play into the spoon fed monster that is poor body image.
Girlhood is a magical time to be whimsical and imaginative and enchanting. If the girls are also encouraged to be astronauts and artists and farmers, playing princess can be great. Girls need the freedom to move their bodies comfortably during play to really be able to fully explore and take in the world. Many times their apparel does not allow them to do that, and we need to question that. But we have to stop and ask ourselves, is this a question we have to ask of our boys? If the answer is no, we need to take a look at why then is it only an issue of limiting our girls, and why we accept that.”
I posted this photo on my personal page last night, celebrating the girls’ final game of t-ball (Home Run Derby, for the win!). This is 6yo Original Pigtail Pal Amelia, and one of her best buds, Z. My mom left a comment under the photo saying how proud she was of Amelia, and to be sure to tell her that Gigi wasn’t able to play t-ball as a little girl and why.
Not having had any coffee yet, I didn’t understand what she meant…Had they not invented t-ball yet? Did she have a disease? And then my brain started chugging along and it hit me: Title IX.
I grew up playing soccer, baseball, volleyball, basketball, swimming, and learning to competitively sail. When my daughter was born, I dreamt about mighty mite soccer and softball games.
For every woman a generation older than me, who fought in big and small ways to get women and girls into sports, who played and practiced despite taunts and threats, who broke into coaching and professional competition, THANK YOU.
Thank you for working so hard and putting up with so much that for a minute, this mom was able to take for granted her daughter would grow up as an athlete, with every right to a strong body, confident heart, and all of the lessons learned on the playing field that will help her later in life to be an amazing individual.
Want to encourage athleticism in your girl? Check these out!
What are some other sites we should list?
I’ve had several parents write in to our Facebook page sharing their experiences with face painters at community events and children’s museums. One comment and photo came in, then another, and another. I took a step back to think about why this was important and why parents were sharing this with me. And then it clicked — this was more than the individual choices of these kids. Face painting is one of the few activities where a service for children is marketed directly to children in real time, and the child present picks the product directly in front of the marketer, with the marketer being able to immediately influence the choice.
Why does this matter?
How many thousands and thousands of kids do you think face painters come in contact with? What messages could and should those people be sending? Several parents have written to me saying their daughter was discouraged from getting a sports ball on her cheek, and instead got a yellow flower. Or the little boy who was discouraged from getting a butterfly, until his mom had to step in and defend his choice. When face painters say “Oh, that’s a girl color, you don’t want that” they are directly impacting the child’s imagination and reinforcing gender stereotypes. They are directly using sexism to change what your child thinks.
It seems pretty obvious how sexist the reactions steeped in gender stereotypes are and how they limit our kids. I would like to instead focus on a few fine artists and kiddos who got it right:
“I just need to give massive kudos to the lovely woman who painted my daughters face today at Adventure Aquarium. B asked to be a snake, the woman asked if she wanted to be a green snake or another color. B opted to be an orange tiger snake. But she never once suggested the bright pink or purple and told her an tiger snake was an awesome choice!” — Alicia, PPBB mama
“FULL OF AWESOME! I thought you might like to see who was totally full of awesome and getting her face painted as a baby jaguar in a sea of girls all getting their faces painted to be Hawaiian princesses at the local street fair on Sunday… (Tallie, in her Full of Awesome Shirt!)” — Roby, PPBB mama
“I thought I’d share my son’s photo from the recent Renaissance Faire. We had to fight with the artist to get him the painting he wanted, rather than the “Boy one” she was insisting he would like better. Check out this face, does he look unhappy???” — Morgan, PPBB mama
Natalie (7 yrs) to the face-painter: “I’d like to look like a tiger please.”
Artist: “Ohh, why that? You’re so cute, and you have such a pretty sparkly top on; wouldn’t you like some flowers or a rainbow instead? It would maaaaatch…”
Natalie: “No thank you. This outfit is for when I’m a dancer. The paint is for when I’m a predator. Tulips aren’t very good camouflage in the jungle.”
(You see that the frustrated artist couldn’t help herself and HAD to add some sparkle to Talie’s forehead and nose anyway. I hope it doesn’t glare and scare off all the prey.)” — Rachel, PPBB mama
Childhood is not a time for limitations. Childhood is a time for choices. We need adults to remember to respect and honor that, and pack away our preconceived notions of what boys and girls can and cannot do. In childhood, they should be able to do it all.
Despite not yet having seen the movie, my entire family is quite smitten with the new Pixar film “Brave”. We purchased three books this weekend about the movie, and we’ve read them several times over. From what I can tell, there is no prince coming to the rescue, those wild red curls are never tamed, and Merida is a fearless and determined heroine who saves her family.
Merida is the princess I’ve been waiting for. Amelia is counting the days until we are able to see the full story in theater on June 22nd. Her grandmother is driving down to see it with us. Our family is of Scottish heritage, and tales like the one Merida is in are the kind of stories about girls that I grew up with. A wild, adventurous, loud, weapon wielding, and independent princess is what I’m accustomed to. It is why, thus far, I’ve had no palette for the existing crop of Disney Princesses.
Merida is who we have been waiting for.
I shock even myself as I type this, but the marketing images and merchandise coming out of Disney/Pixar for “Brave” is something I support. I literally have nothing to complain about. Has Disney been listening? Did Disney read “Cinderella Ate My Daughter” and read the “Redefine Girly“ blog?
Merida is depicted as focused, determined, daring, fierce even. A Disney Princess, shown as fierce. Who knew? Her body language is confident, strong, athletic, and many times defiant. She is a skilled archer, rider, and swordfighter. She takes up space. Mulan would be pleased. I’m sure Sleeping Beauty has no idea what to do with herself. I have poured over the website, the Disney store, the story books, and I am in love with Merida.
Sure, a parent could gripe about the commercialism surrounding this movie (and there is), but this is the larger-than-life character girls have deserved for a long, long time. Merida is our superhero. You bet I’ll be happily purchasing toys for my kids that celebrates a story of a girl who is strong and brave. Merida’s tale is epic, and I think it will sweep both boys and girls off their feet this summer. I think Merida is a game changer.
But before I get too carried away with my daydreaming, I was reminded this weekend why my family practices media literacy skills all of the time. Because certain habitual offenders force us to.
I’ve reached the point where I think Mattel cannot help itself. When I compare the grab-and-go priced Mattel dolls (and descriptions) at Target to the more substantial action figure kits (at triple the price) from the Disney store, Mattel’s version of Merida falls flat. Is Mattel not brave enough to make an unsexy doll?
Is “unsexy” even a word? Given the fact that we are discussing toys for small children, does it matter? Why are there sexy toys to begin with? Because there is Mattel.
Mattel is home of Barbie, the recharged Polly Pockets, and Monster High. All three lines are aimed square at girls, and all three solidly hold a place on the continuum of sexualization. And then Mattel tried its hand at licensed Merida dolls. The Mattel recipe: enhance bust, princessify the dresses, add make up, and add sexy “come hither” bedroom eyes.
The image on the left is almost laughable. The toy that comes out of the package looks nothing like the character on the package. The toy looks like Merida’s hot older sister, who despite living in the Scottish Highlands during Medieval times, got her hands on some serious eye liner and lipstick.
The description to Mattel’s doll reads as such:
So there is the word “adventure” in it. But the focus of the description is on Merida’s “gorgeous MagiClip fashion” and the “extra regal” look of the queen’s “elegant attire”. Comes with “additional fashion for Merida“. I’m also noticing the marketing photo from the website and the gown Merida wears on the doll held by my friend do not look the same. Also comes with a “dainty mum bear costume”. Uh, how many bears have you met that are “dainty”? And of course, the closer, the toy offers lots of imaginative playtime for “your little princess”. Not “you little archer” or “your little adventurer”. Mattel thinks all girls are princesses. The focus of this toy is on how the two females look, very little to do with what they are capable of doing.
Contrast that to Merida’s character description from Disney.com:
Merida is described as passionate and fiery. She is most at home in the outdoors “honing her impressive athletic skills as an archers and swordfighter, and racing across the Highlands on her Clydesdale. I don’t get that from the Mattel toy.
The friend who sent me the images above of the Mattel product has this to say:
“The girl loves princesses. Seeing all of the little dolls wearing high heels, makeup, and a creepy “come hither” look makes my stomach turn every time my daughter gets a new one. Where she only
sees Aurora, Snow White, or Jasmine (I hope), I can only see toy manufacturers throwing our kids and their self esteem under the bus to make a buck. She is 4 and already wants to grow her hair because
princesses have long hair (she chooses to ignore the length of Snow White’s locks) and we just had a discussion yesterday about how everybody farts (don’t ask) and she is adamant that princesses DO NOT
FART. What happens when she decides that all princesses are 5’10″ and 98 pounds soaking wet holding a brick and starts starving herself to death? One stupid little 4″ piece of plastic can be the one domino
that starts the “you’re not good enough” avalanche that could destroy my child. And what about the boy? That same doll shows him that girls are only desirable for their appearance. I can think of no other reason for such a difference in appearance from the movie Merida and the toy than “sex sells.” Even to 4 year olds.” —Tawn M, PPBB Community Member
Do we need to sell sex to four year olds? Apparently not, and again shocked as I type this, Disney got it right. Look at their toys below. I’ll be going to the Disney Store, 45 minutes away, to purchase toys that are twice as expensive as what is available locally. Why? Because what is available locally is cheap, and my daughter and I have waited too long for a heroine like Merida to settle for second best. And I’ll never settle for sexy for my little girl.
I love fairytales, like the one about a heroic unicorn my grandmother wrote and illustrated for me when I was a child, that I know read to my six year old daughter, Amelia. We are crazy excited to see “Brave”, and find out just how adventurous of a princess Merida really is. (Please, oh, please, Pixar, do not let my little girl down.)
We had inherited all of these Disney movies from my aunt, and I didn’t mind Amelia watching any of the princess movies now that she is older and has more critical thinking skills. We like Tangled, I knew she would like Mulan, and we still haven’t seen but are looking forward to Princess and the Frog.
It is no secret that our family is not big on passive princesses, like most of those of the Disney variety. In fact, my six year old has only seen two of the Disney Princess movies: Tangled and Little Mermaid. The first was my choosing, and we enjoyed it but I wasn’t in love with it. Little Mermaid was all my husband, he wasn’t familiar with the storyline and thought it was one of Amelia’s ocean videos. The child is convinced she is part dolphin, and recently has developed a love of mermaids. In my humble opinion, Little Mermaid is the worst of the worst of the DP movies, because a woman should never give away her voice or physically change herself to be with a man. I think there’s a difference between taking a little nap while your gallant prince fights for your safety, and say, giving away your most prized physical attribute so you can fall in love with a hot guy you saw on a boat. And yes, I get that my daughter probably isn’t drawing these same messages out of the story because she’s 6 and I’m 34.
The other day this conversation took place:
“Mom, the dad in Little Mermaid is so mean.” -Amelia
“How is he mean?” -Me
“He just yells at Ariel and doesn’t let her do what she wants.” -Amelia
“That’s because he is being a parent. It isn’t his job to be her friend.” -Me
“But she just wants to go on land and be with her boyfriend.” -Amelia
“Actually what she is doing is changing the most amazing thing about who she is, and giving that away to a person who is evil and manipulating her, all so she can completely change herself and abandon her family to be with a boy that she doesn’t know and who doesn’t know her.” -Me
‘Oh. Well, would you ever do that for Daddy?” -Amelia
“Good Lord, no.” -Me
“Your body got different when me and Ben were in your tummy. So that’s the same.” -Amelia
“That’s the complete opposite. Daddy had fallen in love with me for who I was as a person long before my body changed during pregnancy. Daddy and I were in love for six years before you came along. And having your body change while you grow a child is not the same as changing your body so someone will find you more attractive and hopefully fall in love with you.” -Me
“Well none of this matters because I’m never having babies.” -Amelia
“That is fine, and your opinion on that may or may not change. But you will most likely fall in love with someone and I want very much for that person to love and cherish you for you, for who you are as a complete person. You’ll be much happier in life if you surround yourself with people who value and accept you for being your authentic self.” -Me
This statement popped up yesterday in the convo about the sexualization of girls and one mother’s post about her realization she was complicit to the very thing she was against:
“Unfortunately, those parents who allowed themselves to be silenced, who accepted the sexualization of their daughters, who said “sure, thongs and shorts that say ‘Juicy’ on the rear are totally appropriate for my 9 year old” are the reason the rest of us have few or no options. When it stops making money, or there are proven ways that are better at making money, then other options will become available.” -Cyd Smith, PPBB Community Member
I think about this a lot, and wonder and try to understand what the parents in the mid-90′s and early 2000′s were doing and thinking. I was a nanny at that time, and I can remember my college friends and I being blown away by the advent of Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, Spice Girls and Bratz. I can remember us asking each other what in the world parents were thinking. I saw the families I nannied for struggle with how sexualized girlhood had suddenly become.
Then and now, I wonder, how did this happen? How did parents allow this? How is a scantily-clad gyrating teen girl performing on the Disney channel okay? How has a line of 9 inch dolls dressed like what most people would describe as a streetwalker been on the shelves for eleven years? How did little girls clothing morph into this inappropriate quasi club-hopping teen/adult look?
The sexualization of childhood has made huge amounts of money for companies. It truly has left us with fewer options as companies became less creative because, “Hey, if sex sells, sell it. The parents are buying it, so it must be okay”.
But we shouldn’t be buying it, and there is enough information out there now that parents can and should be doing better. I don’t necessarily need my kids to grow up inside a Norman Rockwell poster, but I refuse to accept the Pussycat Dolls version of girlhood. I just wonder, is there any turning back?
The in-your-face sexism is easy to see, and for the most part easy to speak out against. It is the subtle, barely noticeable, should-I-even-say-something sexism and gender stereotyping that is harmful, and far more likely to directly touch our children. The subtle sexism is everywhere in childhood, and once you see it, you can’t unsee it. But you can speak out against it, and teach your kids to do so, too.
Here are some great examples sent to me this weekend from our Pigtail Pals & Ballcap Buddies Facebook Community:
“At Payless Shoes today the saleslady was giving out stickers. I heard her ask several girls if they liked princesses, and boys if they liked cars. So I was pleased when she asked my 4-yr-old daughter if she wanted Hello Kitty, and then surprised when my daughter walked away with the sticker, very upset. Turns out she wanted spiderman, but that wasn’t a “girl” choice. So of course, we went right back up to the counter for spiderman.” -Sarah B
“ So earlier today I was at my little brother’s birthday party at a kid’s gym (I’m 20 and he just turned 7. I know, big age gap) and I was watching the kids get their goodie bags. My mom and I had packed them with fairly generic things (slinkys, stickers, toy lizards/frogs, gooey hands that stick to the wall, etc) and no bag was meant for any particular person. There were pink, blue, and purple bags.
I didn’t see them all being handed out, but what I DID see was a girl going up to the gym employee, asking for a blue bag, and the worker telling her no, she could have the pink one. Looking around the room, I don’t think a single girl got a blue bag. If that wasn’t bad enough, I heard one of my brother’s friends complaining to another friend about getting a purple bag. I interjected myself into the conversation and asked the boy what was wrong with the purple bag. He explained to me with disgust that purple was a “girl color”. I quickly replied “Well that sounds silly. How can one color be for a boy or a girl? Everyone likes colors.” He stopped for a second and pondered that, like he had honestly never heard anything like that before.
Being a college student, I don’t really have a ton of day-to-day interaction with kids. But it’s days like today that remind me why the work you do is so important. The funny thing is, when the kids opened their bags up, they were all having a blast playing together with the frogs and flinging their sticky hands around the room. Not a single one cared anymore about what color their bag was. I guess kids will be kids. We just need to learn to step back and let them.” -Ellisa B
While at a community event this weekend, I ran into a good friend who told me what she had observed in the children’s area at a craft table: A father and son were about to start the craft that the children chose, either a crown or a shield. The boy wanted to make a crown. The father said no, crowns were for girls, and the boy would make a shield. The boy then tried to choose a pink crayon to start decorating it, and the father said no, pink was for girls, and switched out the crayon for another color.
At this same event, this happened to my family:
The lady volunteer announced who each of us would be, telling Benny he was a knight, Amelia a princess. Amelia’s shoulders fell.
“I wanted to be a knight.” -Amelia
“Girls weren’t knights. You can be a princess because you’re too young to be a lady in waiting.” -Volunteer
“I think she’s suggesting you go inside and rewrite history, Smalls.” -Me
Thankfully, when I posted this story on the facbook page, several commentors left names of women like Joan of Arc, Boudica, Grace O’Malley, Nicola de la Haye, and the children’s series Jane and the Dragon so that I have evidence to show her to the contrary.
In this post, my colleague Dr. Jennifer Shewmaker does a great job showing how really easy it is to get kids thinking critically about their media! Click HERE.
We also need to get kids challenging the stereotypes they face day to day, usually completely unintentionally by the other person. But therein lays the problem — the sexism is so engrained it is invisible.
I asked the Facebook Community to share with us what challenges and stereotypes their sons face. My own concerns are echoed in their comments. A Cliff Notes version would read something like about allowing boys to feel and express their emotions, play with dolls and enjoy fancy things like dress up and nail polish, balancing violent/weapon play, and doing away with phrases such as “He’s all boy” or “Boys will be boys”.
My hope is as we continue to move into a space that involves advocating for childhood for both boys and girls, we can support parents raising boys in a culture that doesn’t really allow them a boyhood. Whereas we’ve talked for years about girls being sexualized and stereotyped since birth, I think equally so our very little boys are rushed into a quasi-manhood they aren’t ready for.
Here are some quotes direct from our parents:
“Personally, I’d like to see the end of “boys will be boys.” No, gender is not an excuse for inappropriate behavior. It shouldn’t be reason to encourage such behavior either. I think a much better saying is, “Boys will be men.” We need to think about who we are raising in regards to both genders. We are not raising perpetual 8 year olds. We are raising men and women.” -Michelle B
“I’ve got three boys each very different kids. My oldest loves his longer hair, despite the kids at school mocking it, luckily he has male family members with long hair to show him all the different ways to look. My middle is pretty rough and tough but he loves purses, babies and dress up. A typical kid experiencing the world. The baby is mostly happy go lucky but we get some comments for him wearing pink socks, or a pink swimsuit (his sister is the next youngest so we have lots of pink baby socks) I just wish my boys were allowed to be kids, like colours and activities without having genders assigned to them.” -Crystal G
“The saying “He’s all boy” rubs me the wrong way. People always say it when my son is being super active/energetic or playing with sticks or something like that. No one ever says “he’s all boy” when he is carrying his beloved baby doll or tenderly wrapping her in a blanket. No one ever says he’s all boy when he is cooking me a pretend cake or when he drapes his sister’s purse over his shoulder. Does he suddenly become half boy/half girl when he does those things??! Why don’t we just say “He’s all kid!” or better yet just ask him what his baby’s name is or what flavor cake he’s making…*sigh*” -Ruthann T
“Guns as toys. And violent play altogether. I recently looked for an action figure for a friend’s three year old son and couldn’t find anything without a gun. He got plenty of toy guns for his birthday, and the kids all ran around “killing” each other during the party. It was horrifying watching a kid put a shiny toy gun to my daughter’s head, yell “you’re dead!” and run away laughing. Kids, most often boys, are taught to play murder before they even know what death is. I worry that guns are so commonplace in our toys and entertainment that kids will stop being shocked when they encounter real ones.” -Lisa Y
“I wish it was “okay” for a little boy to be masculine. There seems to be a pendulum swing from “no, you can’t like pink” to “you must like pink”. Our boys do need to be taught nurturing, it’s not just for girls, but just as we’ve started a movement for girls to be girly AND tough, it seems that we’re focusing on “sensitizing” our boys, and taking away their “tough”. It seems to me that boys have been stripped of their identity in an effort to groom them to be more sensitive, and the little boy who has no natural inclination to wear a pink tutu or play dolls, runs the risk of being labeled a caveman who grows up to beat his wife. (That’s a bit tongue-on-cheek.) There’s too much political correctness in childhood. Adults are projecting way too much on what should simply be child’s play.” -Amanda J
“Boys get the “male role” installed on them beginning at a very young age. There are different phases presented throughout this male role installation. It starts with teaching boys that they are not who they think they are. They are not able to identify with certain emotions (i.e.; fear, sensitivity, etc.) and are made to realize that they are wrong for feeling what’s natural. Then they have no way to resolve the pain and hurt they face. This is where coping mechanisms enter the picture. It gets worse because then we start teaching boys that not only are they not supposed to do what’s natural (inherently true) but that they are ‘better than” other people. We teach them that they are superior to girls and gays and that girls and gays are “less than” boys. In doing this we introduce sexuality (i.e.; your gay, don’t be a girl) before boys even know what sexuality is.” -Josh B
“What they need is the freedom to explore those interests, whether they are “gender-typical” or not. We have to get past the idea that there is only one way to be a boy.” -Crystal Smith of Achilles Effect
and finally, I think this says it all…..
“We need a broader definition of boyhood.” -Amanda B
Mentioned above, my friend and colleague Crystal Smith is a mother to two boys and the author of “Achilles Effect: What Pop Culture is Teaching Young Boys About Masculinity”. It is an excellent read, and I highly recommend it. Especially if you are new to looking at the stereotypes our boys face, it will be a real eye-opener.
Here is a post Crystal just wrote about boys and the expectation to be “tough”….Click HERE.
This post by our friend Sarah Jay of The Mauve Dinosaur does a great job of explaining why we’re all in this, together….Click HERE.
I had some parents share their experiences with me on Facebook, and wanted to share them here.
“My daughter’s pre-school just repainted their rooms this weekend and in the two’s bathroom they had removed the Elmo potty pictures and put a princess (guessing) and Dora over one potty and spiderman and a dinosaur over the other. My daughter asked where’d Elmo go, and then was super excited about the dinosaur. I am worried she will be discouraged from using the toilet with the dinosaur because now it is for boys.” -Natalie
“ I picked up my 4 1/2 year old twin daughters from pre-school today & they were both carrying pink plastic firefighter helmets. Their teachers told me that they had had a visit from the local fire dept. & got to check out a firetruck. While I was buckling them in their seatbelts, I casually said, “Cool hats. You both chose pink ones?” The response I got was “Mom, we’re girls so we get pink hats. Th…e boys get black hats.” My heart sank but I mustered up an upbeat tone & said, “Well, you can always choose whichever color you like best. Some girls might like a black hat & some boys might like a pink hat. Its your choice.” One of my daughters said matter of factly, “A boy is not gonna want a pink hat.” I said, “Some boys might & thats perfectly ok. Everyone has his or her own choice, their own likes & dislikes and thats cool.”
Arrrgh, have you ever seen a real firefighter wearing a pink helmet? Would a firefighter in a pink helmet be taken as seriously or viewed to be as competent & experienced or be paid as well as a firefighter in a black helmet? Why the heck do they even make toy fire helmets in pink? Arent actual firefighter helmets either black, red or yellow? I guess I’ll never know whether the girls were given the pink hats or if they chose pink…but sure felt that the pinkification process was bearing down on us hard today.” -Diane
And on the way to preschool:
“I’m writing you about is your choice of morning commercials. See, we don’t teach about dieting in our house or about when people are “fat” or “skinny”. We try to teach our daughter to respect everyone regardless of what they may look like. We teach her to love and respect her body, eat healthy foods to power her awesome brain, and exercise her strong muscles. We teach her to be proud of the body that she has and remind her of all the amazing things that she does and can do with her body. This morning on the way to her school, after listening to endless commercials about diet pills and filling shakes and ugly fat, she pinched whatever bit of extra she could find on her 4 year old, 30 lb body and said,”Mom, this makes me ugly??”. My stomach dropped. I wanted to cry for the ideas that had just invaded my daughter’s head. For the girl in her class I saw a few weeks ago when I volunteered who pinched her very own precious cheeks and said,”These are just too fat”. I know that your commercials are set to earn money for your show, I am not ignorant to the ways of advertising. But commercializing this constant need for perfection, to be pretty, to fit the norm… it’s doing a great disservice to our children and to ourselves. I pulled the car over in the school parking lot today and reminded my daughter how beautiful she is. How smart and funny and full of awesome. I made sure she understood that she is BEAUTIFUL because of her kindness and her gentle heart and her amazing sense of humor. I reminded her of all the outstanding things that her body is able to do. And I changed the radio station.” -Stephanie
And around town: