I had a boy in September 2013 and just now a girl in January 2018. Just four years in between and yet a lot has changed during this time. Which is why I’m really glad my daughter was born now. Now times are different.
You know what came out in 2013? Frozen. And as lovely as this cartoon is, what I’m observing is quite disturbing. All the girls are wearing Frozen branded clothes, carrying Frozen umbrellas and dolls and even wearing Frozen shoes. Which is fine, it happens with very popular stories and heroes. But while the boys have gone through a number of different stories and heroes in the past few years, girls still hang on to Frozen. Like it’s an obsession or something. Or lack of other available stories and heroes?
I’m still willing to disregard this part and hope this trend will fade by the time my daughter will be old enough to express clothing preferences. But what actually worries me is that all the girls seem to want to be Elsa. Elsa is not the main character in the animated picture. She’s the one that creates the problem for her whole kingdom. She almost kills her sister. While Anna is the one who takes matters into her own hands, goes on a solo quest to rescue her sister and perseveres even when Elsa harms her. She’s the hero. She’s the type of hero that is usually reserved for male characters. And yet no girl wants to be Anna.
Probably because she doesn’t wear a princess-like dress and has no tiara. Apparently even in 2018 appearances are what is truly important for the female population, not character and valor. And it’s not their fault. It’s what our culture raises them to be.
But not all hope is lost. As I said, I am actually glad I have a girl now. There is a number of reasons for that.
Heroes and toys
Frozen aside, the world is changing. Wonder Woman dominated 2017. It was her year. Number one grossing movie with a female hero and female director. But what matters the most is that it’s popular with boys as well. The idea that girls have someone to look up to who wants to save the world instead of waiting to be saved themselves is thrilling, to say the least.
There is a new Star Wars trilogy and the main character, the last Jedi, is a young woman. Leia led the resistance in the original trilogy as well and that was huge for those times. But she was still second to her brother Luke and Vader was still the main character of the films even though he is a villain. But in this day and age, the villain is second and the lead is female.
And Hidden Figures. Thank god somebody made this movie! Have you ever seen a female character in any movie involving NASA and astronauts and such? Nevermind a more prominent one? This changes everything. Granted, it’s not a kids movie, but nonetheless. If parents see girls are meant to be scientists and engineers too than their daughters are going to as well. There is also a Hidden Figures lego set!
While we’re on the subject of legos…you know there are special girls lego sets, right? And while this would have been filed under the ‘bad stuff’ list just a couple of years ago, nowadays I actually think boys are the one getting the short straw here. Lego city sets, meant primarily for boys, have firefighters and police. Which is great but very limiting. The Friends series, which is only meant for girls, however, have skiing, surfing, veterinarians, musicians, science labs and the works.
You can still find all pink areas on toy store shelves (also on clothing shelves, but let’s not go into that right now), but things seem to be moving in the right direction. My son got a toy vacuum cleaner for Christmas from my parents and there were a girl and a boy on the box. The picture of the boy was bigger. He also got a Play-Doh oven. There are two boys and one girl on the box.
While cartoons, movies, and toys have improved dramatically over the last couple of years, clothes did not. While boys clothes have a predominance of blue, there are still clothes in pretty much all colors available. Well, all besides pink. Pink is not only reserved for girls, it is the only color girls can wear. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against pink. I’m wearing a hot pink/orange Adidas hoodie right now, my last pair of sneakers is a pair of vintage rose Nike Air Force 1s and I have freakishly pink running shoes.
But these are my choices and I also own a lot of clothing in other colors. For girls, however, there is no choice. Finding girls clothes beyond the age of 3 months in non-pink colors is truly a challenge. What I hate is this lack of choice which basically dictates that girls should be wearing pink. Like they are branded or something.
But then again H&M makes “It wasn’t me, it was Batgirl” clothes, so there’s hope.
All in all the times are definitely changing. While I was one of those all-pink clad girls (actually purple, but I think it still applies), I was raised to believe I could be anything. I was taught to sing and dance and be pretty but I also had a million STEM books and toys. And ultimately I choose a career in computer science, which wasn’t easy and at times still isn’t. But my parents made this possible, it wasn’t something common 30 or even 10 years ago. And whatever my daughter chooses to do as a kid and as an adult, I am sure she will have a lot more choices and an easier path than I had. And I am very excited for that.