Letter to a toy company
Dear Abby and Emma (the girls in my daughter’s magnetic dress-up doll kit from the toy company Melissa & Doug),
I have to admit that my wife and I were a little queasy when you showed up in our house as a present for our daughter’s second birthday. We tend to go for toys that aren’t gender-specific. But, our daughter liked dressing you up. And it helped her fine motor skills, it helped her figure out that pants don’t go on one’s head. And, whatever, she’s a toddler.
Plus, you were made by Melissa & Doug, the eponymous toy company that has become crazy-successful by being the progressive, wooden, faux-small-business alternative to plastic toy leviathans like Fisher Price and Mattel.
A year since your arrival, our daughter still plays with you. But, here’s the thing, she’s 3 now. And I’ve decided it’s time for you two to get jobs. Because, now that she knows that pants don’t go on your head, all she’s learning is fashion — which super-cute top goes best with which skirt. But, I figure work clothes are different. A firefighter’s clothes are functional. She needs gloves. She needs a helmet. A doctor needs scrubs, maybe one of those old-timey head mirrors. Work clothes would inspire imaginative play and prompt questions beyond do these jeggings make my wooden butt look big?
But guess what, Abby and Emma, Melissa & Doug don’t make work clothes for you. They do for these two bigger, girl dolls. But their clothes won’t fit you. And yes, ballerina is technically a profession. I’m less sure about princess. There is one of the larger dolls who does have cool work clothes. His name is Joey. So, Abby and Emma, you can’t be astronauts. And you can’t help our daughter dream about being a scientist or a police officer either. Sorry girls. And — while I know there is more to parenting than purchasing — if you do talk to Melissa & Doug, if they maintain some sort of magical, Geppeto-y psychic link to you two, can let them know that there’s more to being a girl than just being girly.
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