Are Toys *Really* Gender Specific?

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,

Elisha

2 thoughts on “Are Toys *Really* Gender Specific?

  1. I totally agree with you!
    Especially the color thing infuriates me. I used to work in a bookshop that also did gift wrapping and because of the whole store logo and color sheme the wrapping paper was red on the “good” side. You´d be surprised how many people asked me to use the “bad” side – a not very fetching grey – instead because “it´s a present for a boy you see!” Which, honestly, I don´t. In my experience little boys love fire trucks – who happen to be red. The most famous race car driver in Germany for a long time was Michael Schuhmacher, who drove a bright red Ferrari. But when the son of my friend wants a red bike – “because the red ones are the fastest” – the store lady wants to tell him it´s a girly color? It makes absolutly no sense!
    And what about all those little girls who want to dress like Elsa? Try telling them that blue is a color for boys…
    My favourite fact about “gendered colors” is that in Victorian times it was exactly the other way around: Red and pink were seen as strong and vibrant colors and thus used for boys, while blue was a calming color (and also largely associated with the Virgin Mary) and thus reserved for girls. If that doesn´t show how completly made up all of that is, then I don´t know what is…
    Now, rant over. I think all of your Luvvies are adorable and suitable for children of any gender (and age!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I completely agree with you. The color thing drives me nuts. I don’t care what color it is, if my kid likes it that’s what I am going to get her.

      Thank you so much for your kind words. I appreciate it greatly.

      Like

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