I know that I have said before that there is too much negative in the world that I don’t like to bring “serious” topics up here. I want this to be primarily a safe place to have fun, see cute, snuggly critters, and geek out. However, every now and then, there is a topic that weighs heavily on me and I need to share: This is one of those times.
As I’m preparing for my first vendor show next week, I’ve been trying to make a wide range of Luvvies: Some are animals, some are Christmas themed, some are geeky (all are adorable, in my -biased -opinion), but someone pointed out to me that they are all targeted to a specific demographic: girls.
Now, obviously I am a girl myself, and I have a 9-year-old daughter; but, I never have been brought up to fully believe that toys were gender specific. I watched G.I. Joe, I played with He-Man, but I had Care Bears and My Little Ponies, too. And, I have raised my daughter with the same beliefs: She wants baseball cards for her birthday – awesome, here you go; she wants an 8-foot neon green caterpillar for Christmas – weird, but okay. We have race cars, we have robots, we have glitter…at times our living room looks like the toy aisle at Target, but I have never said to my daughter – you can’t have that because it’s a boy’s toy.
I know that certain colors are consider more feminine (pinks and pastels) and others more masculine (blue, although that is my daughter’s favorite color), and I try to take that into consideration and not have a limited palette – my mother always encouraged me to color with a box of 64 crayons, and I try to keep with that even today. So, it was a bit of a shock when I was told that my products were excluding boys. Why?
I make teddy bears, bunnies, foxes, Deadpool, Groot, gingerbread people….in what way is this excluding boys? How is this geared to girls in general? A boy can’t want a blue unicorn? A girl can’t want a baby Groot to snuggle? I don’t understand this concept.
I’m the first to admit, I am old-fashioned myself, my parents were old-school on most things and I have some of those tendencies, but I cannot see restricting what type of toy someone wants to snuggle with. Saying that a particular toy isn’t appropriate – or is too girly or masculine (in my opinion) only serves to confuse a child and make them think there is something wrong with them for wanting something, and then they work doubly hard to repress that desire, which can lead to problems later in life.
I’m not a girly, girl. I usually wear pants and t-shirts; I’m not super into fashion or makeup, but I love glitter and sparkles – why can’t I have both? Why can’t my daughter have baseball action figures and Tonka trucks and a boy wear pink tops and play with a baby doll? That doesn’t make them any less, it enriches them – shows them new worlds. It helps teach compassion, tolerance, acceptance.
Like I said, I know this is a controversial issue for some: Boys need to be men and girls need to be feminine. I don’t believe that is true. Gender isn’t defined by what we play with, the colors we like; it is what we feel. If my designs do skew too much to girls only and exclude boys, I am sorry for that – because I don’t think that anyone should be denied the warmth and love of a stuffed animal; stuffed animals are universal, they are non-judgemental, they love unconditionally. I would not want to be responsible for withholding that comfort and joy from anyone. However, I don’t see the Luvvies as being geared only to girls. I think there is something that everyone – regardless of gender and regardless of age – can find to provide additional love and support. At least that is my hope. This shouldn’t be something that works to further the differences between us, but cultivates more love and understanding.
With that said, I am going to try to look through my stock for the show and make sure I have a good representation of Luvvies. I want there to be something that everyone young, old, boy, girl will be able to love because that really is the most important thing: The greatest thing, we ever can do is to love and love in return (from “Nature Boy” by Nat King Cole).
Hugs and love to you all,