Boys’ vs. Girls’ Toys: Are Gender Labels Outdated?

A young mom recently said she wanted her son to have both “boy” and “girl” toys. At the time, I thought, What? But after mulling it over, is that really so strange in this day and age?

I dressed up my little brothers in female clothes. The boys (to me) were like real-life baby or Barbie (Ken?) dolls. Plus, they didn’t know any better. 😉

William LOVED the color purple when he was younger. He was also an extremely talented painter before sports took over his life. Piers loved Barbie, wearing my mom’s high heels, and was a witch every single Halloween until high school. That didn’t mean he was gay, not definitely, but did we even care?  No. My cousin of the same age grew up obsessed with Disney’s The Little Mermaid and also wore high heels. He came out of the closet as soon as he hit his teens, and my brother came out a few years later, in college.

HOWEVER, my second cousin, also obsessed in his younger years with his mom’s high heels, is straight. SO… let kids love what they love and don’t judge.

I think there’s nothing wrong with a boy having a female role model or getting in touch with his feminine side. Is there something wrong with me because I obsessively played 007 on N64 in middle school or because I tried to start a girls’ football team in high school? I think not. And, for the record, I happen to be the “girliest” girl I know.

It’s easy for people to define things in black and white, but even our races are so intermixed now. So boy/girl toys, games, books, and even colors should be out. Why are we “genderizing”?

No toy or game or sport (side note: my mom called ballet my sport before I got into “sports” ha! but isn’t football a lot like ballet? think about it…) will “make” your child more “masculine” or “feminine.” Children are born the way they are and attracted to certain leisurely things naturally, and no amount of “control” over their interests is going to change their natural essence when they grow up. So why even try to do that? Introduce them to everything you can so they learn to cultivate their own interests as innocently as possible.

Bottom line: Let kids be kids. Stop genderizing. And let toys be that—just toys.

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