Of girl toys and boy toys

Target announced recently that they are doing away with gender identifying labels for their toys. Apparently, this pissed a lot of people off. I, personally, don’t understand why or what the big deal is. All their doing is changing aisles labels – for example, “Building Sets and Girl’s Building Sets” to just “Building Sets.” I hardly see how that is going to impact someone’s life in some negative way. Personally, I think it’s a good thing.

Growing up I was always very aware of “girl” toys and “boy” toys. I always had girl toys. Our house was filled with baby dolls and barbies. My grandma made these fabulous outfits for the barbies too. My sister and I each at one point got a baby crib for Christmas for our dolls. I never had any idea that there was a whole other world of toys out there.
So when we had our first kid, I swore I wasn’t going to make her into a girly girl like me. She could play with whatever toys she wanted and dress however she wanted. I’ve always bought her clothes from both the boys and girls departments. And sure enough, Ellabelle does not discriminate. Her Elsa and Merida dolls sit next to Ironman and Rocket Raccoon. Her Little People Princesses hang out with Batman and the Joker. She has hot wheels and Legos and comic books. She has barbies and dress up clothes and a baby crib. She wears plastic high heels while she swings around a lightsaber. She carries around a wrestling championship belt while she’s donning a Rapunzel crown.
I complained to my mom that I wasn’t allowed to have Legos or trucks growing up because they were “boy” toys. She told me it wasn’t because of the gender, it was because I never asked for them. I always asked for barbies and babies. And she’s right, I never asked. The reason being that I was under the impression that I wasn’t allowed to have those kinds of toys. Boys had their toys where they built things and raced cars, and girls had pretty blonde plastic dolls with hair you could style. It all seems so stupid to me now. Even at day camp, the boys played basketball every morning, and the girls sat on the bleachers and made friendship bracelets and key chains. And this was not necessarily by choice. I remember being told it was time to play and I had to give up my ball and hoop my friend and I were playing at for the boys to have the whole court. And I didn’t question it because I was a girl, and girls sat on the bleachers.
I don’t ever want my girls to sit on the bleachers unless they want to.
They can be princesses who fight crime or superheroes that wear crowns.
They can be the one to save day, not the one waiting for the prince (or plumber) to come along.
They can play in the dirt and kick soccer balls and wear nail polish while doing it.
They can grow up and become a teacher or mommy or nurse or fire fighter or CEO.
They can do anything boys can do and they will know that it’s ok for boys to do anything a girl can do even if others disagree.
And if someday, my beautiful blue eyed beauties look at me and tell me that they should’ve been born “Eli” or “Matthew” instead of how they biologically came out, then I will find a way to be ok with that because being a boy or a girl is not defined by what labels and expectation we put on mundane things – starting with toys.

My girls can do anything they want. They can become anything they want. They can play and dream about anything they want. And I’ll be damned if something as simple as blue or pink packaging material holds them back.


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