Wednesday, October 24, 2007

On marketing culture to girls

In my post about bad-ass women, I wrote that I wish the character on Heroes, Monica, had chosen a different activity to try out her skills with than double dutch. It was brought up that the character might have had a secret wish her entire life to be able to double dutch and can now her powers are beginning to show. This is an acceptable theory to me. There are many skills other girls and women have had in my lifetime I would like to try out. Unfortunately, it's hard to believe this line of thought with the way toys and culture are marketed to girls and women.

My first beef is a toy I saw in a commercial yesterday while watching television with my mom. It warranted a long and angry rant from me.

It's Rose Petal Cottage! Think of all the fun your little girl can have pretending to wash her baby's dirty diapers in her very own washer and dryer. She has not one, but TWO baby receptacles at her disposal. It's wonderful. As soon as she's finished pretending to do the laundry, she can pretend to cook her husband dinner, then move over a room and rock her baby dolls in the rocker/crib. At least when I was a little girl making mud pies, I was out in the nature getting dirty. Eating mud. Building up my immune system.

Am I cynical? Perhaps. However, this USA Today article chronicles even more the loss of a very important aspect of the modern lives of little girls. They no longer have the freedom to come up with things to entertain themselves, instead commercials and the media are throwing out all the stops to create the track for their lives. Entire books have been written on this subject.

Entire industries are built around swaying little girls to become pretty princess consumers, which will eventually lead them to become pretty woman consumers. These are women who buy cosmetics, bare their midriffs, tweak their looks with plastic surgery, and are quickdraws with their credit cards.

According to an article in VOA News, even high couture clothing is being marketed to young girls. Out of all of the styles available to girls today, high couture is the style I would be LEAST likely to buy for a small child.

I mean, who would dress their child in something like this? (According to Telegraph Fashion, BDSM-style designs are hot on the catwalk this year.)


WKnapik said...

I did a paper in college about gender differences and toys and amongst the more interesting things I found were dinosaur toys with long,pink combable hair.Because they were for girls!Get it?I thought the same thing you are probably thinking.

This is one of the tougher barriers to break because parents usually pick out the toys since they're the ones who pay for them.I don't see too many modern parents picking out Tonka trucks or Transformers for their little girls.I know if my gf and I ever have kids, and one is a girl,I'd have a hell of time convincing her to buy any toys for her that weren't pink and flowery.(Though if I had a girl and she wanted to read comics and play with action figures I'd love it.)

Wendy Withers said...

Parents buy toys for little girls up to a certain point. And, mothers buy into the girl culture; they grew up in it, too. A lot of women like to buy cute things, thinking it will instill "cute" values into their children. However, around the age of three or four, kids start getting a case of the "gimmes" because they see commercials on TV. Most of the commercials say to girls "look at this cute doll with a matching purse, etc, you want it so you can be a pretty princess." Boys get the message "be totally extreme with this awesome -fill in the blank-; you were meant to tear down and destroy!"

When I was a kid, I always wanted things like Legos, chemistry sets, erector sets, etc. as well as some of the dolls I saw on TV. I always got the dolls; I never got the "boy" type stuff I asked for. Except the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle sewer set with the ooze can and elevator, but that was because my mom found it in an apartment she was cleaning out.

CresceNet said...
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