The other day, I ventured into Target and then Walmart for my Christmas shopping, and for Christmas shopping, I mean, spending money I do not have on kids’ toys that they will ignore after 2 days. If it even takes that long!It’s easy enough to shop for my son; he’s nine and into wii games. Shopping for my daughter is another issue. It’s irritating.
These are my choices as I trail along the pink aisle of any toy store; thus, these are the choices that define her potential as she develops into a woman:
1. Mother/Housewife: Baby dolls that pee, poo, eat, get carried around in Bjorns and strollers.
2. Eye Candy: Barbie dolls, Bratz, Princesses, and all the new crazy big-eyed monster dolls with incredibly incongruous body parts, all of them dressed like sexy vamps with short skirts, tight pants, tank tops, red carpet outfits and high heels. Is it little girls who play with them or men?
3. Fashionista: Again, Barbie dolls, Bratz, Princesses, crazy big-eyed monster dolls, and Polly Pockets, because all little girls love clothes, shoes, and matching bags — especially sexy outfits that expose skin and show off curves little girls have not developed yet.
Shopping for little girls is tiresome and frustrating. But here is what I settled for this year for my daughter, because it is my job as her mother not to give her what she thinks she wants, but what she needs to grow up into a strong and independent individual who does not look to the media to define her roles in life or her potential as a woman. It’s my job, and I take this job seriously.
1. The Daring Game for Girls: This is a great game, either for Wii or DS game systems. They’re hard to find, but you can purchase them through Amazon. In this game, girls first choose a girl to play as, hopefully one that looks like them. Choices include girls with brown hair, blond hair, red hair, and most importantly, there are Asian, Black, and Latina girls to choose from. Every little girl is represented and can find a girl that appeals to her background. The objective of the game is to play soccer, basketball, baseball, go camping, hiking, answer trivia questions, and such to earn enough points with which to purchase items needed to build things. Among teaching girls the value of participating in sports and having adventures, little girls can also become entrepreneurs, selling arts and crafts or lemonade in order to earn enough money to purchase necessary items for the adventures. This is the only game out there made for girls, and what’s even more wonderful is that throughout the game, there are positive and empowering quotes offered to the players by strong and famous women
2. American Doll: Last year, I bought her an American doll, which is a very smart choice for little girls. Her face looks like a little girl’s face, and her body is actually made of cloth and stuffing. No plastic, large, and protruding breasts with a much too tiny waist. American dolls have plastic arms and legs, but everything in between is all good and age appropriate. Little girls can also go online with you and choose a doll that looks like they do. The only con is that it is expensive, which is why my girl only has one.
3. Leap Frog Tag System: Since grandma bought her a Tag reading system (the pen) as an early Christmas present, I decided to get my daughter a few Tag books with which to practice reading. A Tag system is excellent for beginning readers, and I have always been a fan of Leap Frog toys. Love them! The Solar System Tag gift is a really cool gift for little girls, shifting their attention away from typically stereotypical toys like dolls, clothes, and such. Girls should know about the planets as much as we teach the boys.
4. Brave Wii game: I haven’t written about Brave because I had a problem with the mother/daughter chasm in the story, but Merida is one brave and empowered role model for our girls. The Brave Wii game allows girls to put themselves in her place and shoot arrows as well as Merida.
5. Soccer Ball: I signed my daughter up for soccer in the spring, along with her older brother. Everything I have read about sports and girls tells me that girls need to be in sports, and by sports, I don’t mean cheerleading. Not a sport, no matter how you spin it. Girls who are in sports grow up to be strong, competitive, and assertive, and we can use a new generation of women who possess these attributes. A soccer ball is necessary for her first practice this spring.
6. Little Women: Since this is the year that she is learning how to read, I bought her a few First Reader books as well as a Sight Words workbook. But when I was at Barnes and Nobles the other day, I came across one of my most treasured childhood books, Little Women. Jo, of course, was my favorite heroine, and by introducing her to my daughter, I am giving her yet another positive role model. They do exist.
7. Lalaloopsy: Even though Lalaloopsy dolls’ skirts tend to be a bit short and their long legs rail thin, they’re still better than all the other choices that exist for little girls in the stores. Their faces are cute, and they look like little girls and not “hot” versions of adult women. Definitely a good choice for our daughters.
As parents, we are responsible for the messages that we send our daughters, and when we cave in and buy them toys that every other girl gets, whether it’s Barbie or Bratz dolls, we are not doing anything to benefit them. We need to be wise and thoughtful in our shopping, always keeping in mind their emotional health, and always providing them with options and choices that the toy industry does not offer them.
Shop wisely, not as consumers, but as parents, for both your girls and your boys.
What empowering girls’ gifts have you come across this shopping season?