Target is preparing to remove “Boys” and “Girls” signage from its stores’ toy aisles.
How will Fox News anchors know which toys to buy? Will Hello Kitty end up living with Clifford, the Big Red Dog? WON’T SOMEONE PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN?
This apparently started with Lego building sets marketed for girls or boys. I had a Lego castle set when I was, oh, seven or eight. All the figures were male knights. And a king, of course. A queen would have been nice, and some shield maidens, but really, I didn’t care. I pretended they were King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. I added a Weeble-Wobble to the mix if I felt like it. I had my mother’s old tin doll house. Sometimes the Weeble-Wobbles lived there instead of in the Lego castle. I had a Lite Brite and Tinker Toys and a Spirograph and a plastic racetrack. I had paper dolls, starting with the baby on the side of the detergent box that my mother cut out when the box was empty. Later, I had Barbies. Now I’m an avid doll collector. I’m quite sure that everyone is sick of hearing about my dolls but CONFESSION TIME: I began my doll collecting career with an act of theft. I stole my first Barbie from the daughter of one of my dad’s fishing buddies. When she went home, I ran to my bedroom. My mother said I was acting suspicious. She followed me. She saw me pull the Barbie out from under my crib mattress. She said nothing. She was an accomplice.
I had a Farrah Fawcett doll. I had mini Star Wars action figures. I had jump ropes, hula hoops, and my mother’s baton from high school. And Play-Doh. I had Play-Doh toy sets. My mom also taught us how to make our own Play-Doh with flour and water and food coloring. I had a wooden “pocket knife” that my father whittled with his real pocket knife. And I had a wheelbarrow that my grandfather gave me, a child-sized wheelbarrow. After he gave me the wheelbarrow, he told me to go clean up the yard. Specifically, to pick up the sticks.
If I was a kid now and you turned me loose in the toy aisles, I’d go for the Monster High dolls and those Lego Pirates of the Caribbean building sets. Because when I was a kid, I wanted to be a nurse, a ballerina, a marine biologist, a pirate, and a vampire. Now I write about vampires, and I have 45 dolls on display in my home. And those are just the ones on display.
My parents and grandparents didn’t need signs to help them pick out toys for my sisters and me. They bought me toys that they knew I wanted, that they knew would help me learn, and toys that THEY THEMSELVES wanted (that would be my dad, who had only daughters).
All this controversy about Target taking down the Girl and Boy signs is nonsense and has nothing to do with the children. It’s about the sensibilities of a few adults. Advertising and adults and their prejudices are guiding what children play with today, and that’s sad. I think I had a better childhood with my parents and grandparents making their own decisions instead of relying on signs.