Are “Princesses” On Their Way Out? Is the ‘Pink’ Toy Aisle Evil?
by Susie Felber
Will and Kate just had a baby: George Alexander Louis. He’s a prince. Which is awesome for them, but a shame because I’ll admit I wanted a princess. I felt it was high time for a princess. But no dice.
But princesses and princess culture in general is getting a bad rap lately. In fact, one toy company, GoldieBlox, shows little girls having a “Feminist Spring” type uprising in a Toys R Us. See: Little Girls Take Over the Pink Aisle.
The girls wear T-shirts that say, “More than just a princess” and the video, which has over half a million views since appearing this month, says they are “disrupting the pink aisle” with toys for future engineers.
I’ll admit I was intrigued — and skeptical. I’m a crazy feminist, but I grew up loving pink, ballet and loving all things princess. From my Fisher Price Play Family Castle to fancy dress dolls like the one above — I couldn’t get enough. And of course I wanted Barbies, and all her trimmings, but my mother felt strongly that the toy was far too sexy and Barbie was banned from our house.
When I had a girl, I didn’t pink or purple it up. My daughter had no exposure to girl toys — she only had her brother’s toys to play with. Legos, Tinkertoys, remote-controlled stuff. But even before she was two, she’d run to pink toys and princess stuff when she came across and leap on it, like a moth to light. Now, at three, anything pink or purple makes her go nuts. I can’t make her unlike it, and why should I? We recently unpacked my giant doll collection, which was boxed when I hit puberty and wanted no part of anything pink, and she was in heaven.
So, of course, I don’t want princess stuff to go away. One of the only new TV shows my kids enjoy is Disney’s Sofia the First, which is totally princess overload, but it’s great.
But I’ll admit I go to Target or Toys R Us and most everything pink is… dull. The toys are dress-up or dolls and not fun like my son’s toys. And Bust magazine has a great post about how girls toys of today aren’t the same as the simply pink toys I grew up with — they’ve gotten sexier. Disturbingly so. From Strawberry Shortcake to My Little Pony (yeah, you can sex up a pony, who knew?) — the post Stop Sexifying Our Girl Toys gives great visual proof of this bizarre trend.
So the pink aisle riot is a brilliant ad, but didn’t explain the toys except to express outrage at pink stuff. And due to parents like me finding the girl offerings lame — more companies are making their boy stuff pink. But the results are often lame. “Lego Friends” is so dull compared to boy Legos. So much so my son forced us to write a letter to Lego asking why the girl toys were no fun. And then I learned some moms have gone as far as to protest Lego Friends.
But a video I found that came out a year ago that features the very attractive young creator of GoldieBlox really sold me. In the GoldieBlox Kickstarter video, Debbie Sterling says she’s an engineer from Stanford who started the company because she didn’t like how few women were in the programs. She talks of how she wanted to make a building toy for girls that didn’t just color it pink, but engaged girls on a higher level — combining their love of storytelling and reading.
It must’ve worked because the toy she was trying to create is available now on GoldieBlox.com. I haven’t tried it, I’ve no idea how much fun it is, but I’m excited enough to give this wacky belt-spinning toy a try.
My verdict: Pink and princess fare isn’t evil, it’s awesome, but we can and should do better for our girls. And I’m glad some smart people are on the case.
What do you think? Do you limit pink and princess stuff? Do you think the protests are silly? Let me know in the comments!
Words and pictures by Susie Felber