by Christine Urio
Organizations are becoming increasingly aware of the influence toy corporations have over children, and are using their power to alter societal norms.
Toys teach children much more than just how to share and play nicely, but are dangerous tools that reinforce stereotypical notions of beauty and gender.
Meet Lammily, the realistically proportioned doll that is taking Barbie down a few notches in her size two belt while boosting the confidence of young girls.
Unlike her counterpart, Lammily dons a realistic figure, modeled after the proportions of an average American 19 year old woman.
According to an Upworthy article, when introduced to a set of second graders, comments such as “I don’t have other dolls like this. It looks real,” and “She looks like my sister,” were not uncommon.
Growing up in the 90s, Barbie’s Dream House, complete with minivan and bedding accessories, was at the top of my Christmas list the year I turned seven. However, I never related to Barbie as much as I did my American Girl Doll, which you can get custom made to resemble yourself.
Girls want toys they can relate to, but companies are subliminally teaching children what they should instead aspire to be, using Barbie, a thin, perfect blonde, as an unrealistic model and shoving it down their throats.
These notions of beauty inadvertently take root in young children which can cause a lifetime of insecurity when it is force fed in the form of innocent sun-kissed plastic, glittery miniskirts, and long, bleached hair.
With dolls like Lammily on the market, who have fuller bodies, darker features, and outfits that are not red carpet-worthy, she represents a realistic person that children can relate to and help understand that being you is what’s truly beautiful.
Let Toys Be Toys is a campaign also working against norms that society has impressed upon children.
According to their official website, the purpose of this organization is to ask toy industries to “stop limiting children’s interests by promoting some toys and books as only suitable for girls, and others only for boys.”
Play time is all about imagination and having fun, so it is discouraging to have stores taint this concept by instructing children which toys they are “allowed” to play with simply based on their sex.
Limiting children to what society deems is acceptable for them to like can ultimately inhibit them in the future—if we didn’t label Legos as “boy” toys maybe we would have more female architects, and if we didn’t label Easybake as “girl” toys, maybe we would have more male chefs.
When I was young, I used to play with gargoyle action figures and my male cousin would play dress up with me. Children need to be encouraged to stimulate their interests, not repress them because their sex inhibits them from experiencing certain things.
This movement therefore encourages creativity and allows children to play with the toys that appeal to their interests through organizing toys by genre instead of gender.
Although society will not change over the course of a day, products and programs such as these are positive reinforcements that the future is open to better possibilities for our children to shamelessly be themselves.