I grew up in a family of four: I am the oldest and the book nerd. My brother is the comedian and sci-fi geek. My sister is a brilliant artist. And my baby brother (who hates being called that) is the engineer. This guy can build one of those giant 1,000 piece LEGO sets in like an hour. It’s insane. As a child, I didn’t dress girly but I loved girly things. I could get lost in my Barbies’ dramas for hours, I began “borrowing” my mom’s high heels and makeup as soon as I could, and a classic Victorian romance was my favorite reading from the time I was like ten. My sister HATED all of those things. She’d rather play video games or create comic strips. The older of my younger brothers would mostly play with action figures, and of course the younger would build things.
We were all raised in the same house for most of our lives. We mostly share the same DNA. We had the same opportunities and same toys available to us. And yet we are all very, very different.
When I was little we didn’t have a lot of money. Most of my toys were hand-me-downs from when my mom and her brother were kids, or garage sale finds. Because of this I, probably like many other kids, was raised with a fascinating variety of Barbies, GI Joes, LEGOs (in primary colors), and occasionally Star Wars action figures (if my uncle would allow it, which usually he wouldn’t). When my brother came along, he played with the same toys. We didn’t have “girl” toys and “boy” toys, we had our toys. Sometimes we would build LEGO houses for the action figures to live in, or sometimes GI Joe (or Captain Picard as the years progressed) would make an appearance on the soap opera that was my Barbies’ life.
There have always been stereotypes that girls like dolls and pink things and boys like trucks and blue things, but more often than not kids like what they like and you can’t force a child to like or play with something that doesn’t fit their interests (believe me, I tried SO MANY TIMES to make my sister like Barbies).
This brings me to Goldie Blox, a series of building toys for girls. The mission of GoldieBlox is to “disrupt the pink aisle” and get girls interested in engineering. An honorable mission created by a female engineer who was disturbed by the lack of women in her program. I want to like this idea, I really do. I want to support encouraging our future generation of women to build and love all things science, but GoldieBlox isn’t the answer to that. GoldieBlox is another “girl” toy that just happens to have a politically correct shtick. “Yay, Girl Power, now we can be engineers!” But the message we need to be sending our daughters is that they can be engineers without girl power. They do not need a “girl” toy in order to love building, science, technology, math, or plumbing for that matter! Our daughters need to know that they are equal to our sons. They have every right to build the same models. They do not need them to be pastel colors or have a cute blond mascot.
Oh and this cute blond mascot! GoldieBlox latest product is an action figure “for girls.” A doll that goes against the unrealistic expectations of beauty that you get with other dolls. In other words, the anti-Barbie. I cringed at the idea and cringed even more when I saw the product. This is not a doll with realistic proportions. It is a Bratz doll with less makeup. When I shared this commercial, and my rant, on Facebook, my uncle (yes, the same one who denied me Star Wars action figure access all those years ago) said, “My daughter already has action figures for girls. They’re from a little film franchise called Star Wars.”
This new commercial features many little girls wearing “princess” style dresses and high heels while “Big Sister” tells them, “Beauty is Perfection.” Then Goldie comes in with her frizzy hair, overalls, chucks, and a hammer and smashes Big Sister to pieces. My beef with this? Goldie is a thin, white, blond haired child with big eyes. She is beautiful in the most traditional sense, her frizzy hair making her “average” in the way they put big glasses on Rachel Leigh Cook to make her nerdy in “She’s All That.” When I was that girl’s age, I had chubby cheeks, teeth too big for my mouth, and dark brown hair. If I put on overalls and chucks at that age, I would have looked less like an awesome super girl and more like a poor farmer’s kid.
If GoldieBlox is on your child’s Christmas list this year, awesome! Get it for her! Maybe it’s a really fun toy. But remember you are not buying the promise of female equality that they are trying to sell you, you are buying a “girl” toy the same as if you bought her a Barbie or Bratz doll. If your child asks for a building toy for Christmas, skip the GoldieBlox and buy her some K’Nex.
What do you think: Thumbs up or thumbs down for GoldieBlox?