One of the fondest memories I have as a young girl is going to Toy’s-R-Us to buy a new toy, most likely as a reward for my straight A’s. I knew exactly where to go in this magnificent shop, the blue colored section right by the Hot Wheels to buy a new stack of Pokemon cards. I would take my new prize to school the next day to play with the boys at recess on the asphalt parking lot. For some reason that I never understood, if I played with the toys I wanted the girls would glare and me, and exclude me from a session of braiding hair on the steps of the main entrance.
Looking back on these memories I think of how I was excluded for liking what I did...Was I not feminine enough for my fellow girl classmates? Did playing with a toy that made me happy make me less of a girl, and more of a boy? After this field trip to Toy’s-R-Us, my eyes were opened to how gender oriented the layout of toy store is. In this essay I will analyze how toy stores are representing gender stereotypes, with baby dolls and matchbox cars as specific examples.
Approximately three months ago, my friend Leanne and I went to Toy’s-R-Us in search for one of the oldest known toys in history, a doll. At the time she was eight months pregnant with her second son, and we were trying to follow the advice of “Give your child a doll so he has a “baby” to care for too.” We searched up and down the aisles for a “baby brother” for her oldest to care for, unknown to both of us male dolls are virtually nonexistent! We searched two rows decorated in bright pink frills, but there were no male baby dolls on the shelves, or even in the back warehouse.
It was puzzling for me to discover that no male baby dolls were in production, and when questioned where to find a male doll, and employee stated “I have never seen boy dolls on our shelves, and I have never been asked for one either.” What makes a boy doll so taboo, that for that employee’s entire career this had never been requested?