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Shopping for Princesses

Dec
20
2006

I hate to acknowledge any across-the-board differences between sons and daughters, but there is one clear distinction between having boys rather than girls. In toy stores I don’t have to enter Pinkland.
You can spot Pinkland across the store because the aisle has a soft, rosy glow pulsing out of it. Everything in it is pink, mostly, or lavender, the babies and dolls and their accessories and the jewelry-making kits and a whole bunch of stuff I can’t figure out despite the fact that I was once a girl.
The boy equivalent is Aggression Alley. It has a black metallic shine. Everything in it is equally incomprehensible but it all comes with a weapon and some form of transportation. (Even so, I wouldn’t write off Pinkland if it ever comes to an in-store toy battle – lots of blankies for smothering and stuff, and all the little beads could be deadly.)
Whatever non-sexist childrearing is, I don’t think it requires buying boys anything from Pinkland, although a doll or two can’t hurt when it comes to trying to foster equality (just hold your breath when you go in and grab the doll fast, and the pink haze might not get you). Boys (or girls) also don’t really need anything from Aggression Alley, but I do make the odd quick raid to seize a Batman or something, trying to get out before the troops can form.
So, this being the toy-buying season, you could pick your plastic junk with care, and it’s always good to avoid stereotypes. But while I’m still new to the boy raising, I had a bunch of years of growing up as a girl, and it strikes me that a gender-neutral construction kit is a very small weapon against the princess-industrial complex, the whole find-your-prince focus that so many stories and toys still have.
Here in Spain and other countries with a baroque streak, we’ve got real live princesses. That’s a job title: princess. Probably pays better than waitressing. I don’t know if it’s better or worse for a girl to grow up reading about the real princesses and their daily rounds – opening this, honoring that, dining there, vacationing here. At least you get to see that a princess’ smile is often pained looking, and they can be better role models than someone like a Paris Hilton who fills U.S. gossip columns, not that that’s saying much.
Princess supporter or not, anyone looking for gifts would definitely want a doll replica of a baby princess, like this Leonor infant doll that resembles the daughter of Spain’s heir to the throne. What’s the point of a lifelike baby doll? Given what happens to dolls, it seems to verge on playing at child abuse. The other possibility is you want the doll not to play with, but to collect. So if you’re a “collector” of these kinds of dolls, you must have shelves of realistic-looking babies lined up; that’s nice if you want to decorate so your home looks like the laboratory of a mad scientist who does really creepy experiments.
Oh well, as long as it’s a mad scientist who provides a non-sexist role model. That would make a good gift.

Share  Posted by Deborah Klosky at 9:31 PM | Permalink

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