Friday, February 09, 2007

Gifts for a 9 year old...

My little Valentine’s girl will turn 9 on Wednesday, so Maggie and I were in Dumfries this morning searching the shops for potential birthday presents. Unfortunately I’ve never been great at buying gifts at the best of times, but trying to get into the mindset of a 9-year-old female is beyond me altogether.

Every shop that sells toys has shelves and shelves of pink and fluffy things, including many things that clearly don’t benefit from being pink and fluffy, like pink and fluffy wellies for example. Mind you, I can’t see how little girl’s wellies can benefit from having high heels either. Isn’t that an unnecessary attempt at the sexualisation of prepubescent girls? On the one hand society has made us fear the potential paedophile who seemingly lurks on every street corner, but at the same time young children are being bombarded with clothes, make-up, fashions and role models that are designed to turn them into hip and happening, sexually liberated ladettes before they even reach double figures. Am I the only one who finds this aspect of our culture not just distasteful, but obscene?

Perhaps it’s just my age. Maybe I’ll soon be filling this blog with entries of “it wasn’t like this in my day…” and “I remember when youth had respect for their elders…” and “call that music…?

But I do find the body shape fascism of girls dolls quite disturbing. We’ve never bought into the whole Barbie thing (see Death to Barbie), but there are other girlz on the block that are just as insidious. Bratz seem to be everywhere at the moment: Bratz dolls, Bratz magazines, Bratz clothes, Bratz pencil cases and Bratz school bags, Bratz pyjamas, Bratz wellies, Bratz computers, Bratz bicycles; it goes on forever. And that’s before you start including their spin-offs Kidz and Sisterz and Babyz.

I wonder if I could set up some rival toys called Gagz and Pukez.

We came home feeling slightly shell-shocked and no presents to show. A sensible pair of walking boots and perhaps Ice Age II on DVD, now seem the likeliest contenders.

21 comments:

Sam, Problem-Child-Bride said...

Agreed, Kim. Bratz dolls ("We're all individuals!") will never cross the threshold of Problem Towers. They look like aliens (those eyes!) and seem to want to convey to 8-year olds that being an "individual" has to do with leopard skin accessories and a pink dog.

Grumble, grumble, where's me Horlicks?

Happy birthday to the wee one when it comes.

Dr Joseph McCrumble said...

We share the same platform here, Kim. As the proud owner of two boys I don't have to worry so much, yet. But no.3 (gender unknown) may just mean I'll be frothing at the mouth in a few years time.

Andraste said...

Ugh, so right, Kim. I've been bitching about this for years. I don't even have a daughter ( or even a niece) but when I look at children's clothing and see that shirts meant for preschoolers say things like "sexy," or "juicy" on them, it gives me the fear. You should see what they're teaching children here in dance classes! Speaking of...have you seen "Little Miss Sunshine?"

Jen said...

Happy birthday to your sweet (or maybe not so sweet, now that she's quickly approaching the pre-teen years!)girl. As a mother of boys, and very little boys at that, I have not yet had to worry about this issue...thank goodness. But I would imagine that any future hypothetical daughter I may have will think I'm a stodgy old spinster when I take her clothes shopping! (And she'd probably be right......)

Christina said...

how about a pair of nice Vincent shoes??? To be found in the UK too www.vincentshoestore.com

They come highly recomended :-)

quinn said...

It is very much like that here as well Kim..I too am glad to have two boys. Although I am having some problems with my younger sons jeans being down below his butt!((( and that is with a belt on!!!!))!argggg. ...thank goodness he spends 50% of his time either in karate Gi or pajamas ..cause the rest of the time I am yelling at him to pull up his pants.

As for the attire of young ladies..I agree makes no sence to me but then again take a look at most of the young moms out there ...many of them are dressing 10-15 years younger than "they should" too....30 year olds with their belly shirts etc...

Also...As you know I did daycare for 15 years I have seen alot of changes in what is acceptable for the really young kids. Imagine my surprise when I went to change the diaper of a not quite 2 year old little girl..of a 30 year old mom...only to discover they had affixed a temporary tatoo of a flower below the waist toward the hip..INSIDE The diaper area ..!! of this child!!!

Later I discovered another temporary tatoo on her lower back just above her diaper!!! ....

Now tell me ..what on earth was that for ??!! who is gonna be seeing that?? and not even 2 shes a baby!!!!

k ..I am done...lol.

Pendullum said...

My nine year old loves these stuffed animals called Webkinz. You buy the cute wee stuffed animal...and then you have a membership for a year on Webkinz land...
Where you get to play fun games on the internet...
All my daughter's friends love these things... It could be helpful???

Happy Birthday to your sweet little Valentine!!!

Fat Lazy Guy said...

Ugh. All that stuff. I'm just glad I was a boy. Give me a toy gun or a toy car, and was good. Heck, I'd like a toy gun or a toy car right now!

Pat said...

I have to admit that I spent hours playing with the grandchildren's Barbies. The things you could do with their hair and such fun dressing them. I clearly had a
deprived childhood but then it was war-time. With little girls of that age - as long as it's pink and sparkley - they are happy. I think walking boots is an excellent idea.
The boys used to crave action men and were furious when my first husband insisted on calling them 'your doll'!

Kate said...

Happy Birthday to you little Valentine's girl! I hope she has a lovely day. BTW What a cool day to have your birthday on.

I agree with you about the overtly sexual nature of girls clothes and accessories. I only have boys, and fortunately, boys clothes seem to be as staid as they were years ago. But, when I take my younger son clothes shopping I'm often slightly shocked by some of the items on sale in the girls department.

I suspect that as adult women are beginning to see through the fashion and beauty industry's attempts to destroy their confidence, said industry is turning it's attention to a younger market. Having said that, from what I know about the fashion industry the idea that there is an element of perviness about it wouldn't surprise me at all.

Kim Ayres said...

Sam, pcb - You can be any shape you like, so long as it's impossibly skinny and have eyes that are larger than your hands. Nice to know that we live in such a diverse population.

Dr McCrumble - it's not all plain sailing with boys. They might start playing rugby...

Andraste - I haven't seen it, although I'm aware of the premise, and those style of contests have always concerned me

Jen - it's not easy :)

Christina - do you have shares in it?

Quinn - skin decoration by the diaper? Bizarre!

Pendullum - I'm a 40 year old man. I just looked up webkinz and have been traumatised. You may have well forced me to watch endless repeats of the care bears and my little pony.

*Shudder*

FLG - Ah yes, these toys never did us any harm. Though as an adult I keep fighting the urge to commit drive-by shootings...

Pat - I enjoyed Action Man, although what I really wanted was the toy Bionic Man. I don't think I've ever really forgiven my parents for this deprivation in my childhood.

Kate - Meg just missed being a Friday the 13th girl by about 20 minutes :)

jennifer said...

And what strong contenders they are...I am oftentimes happy I only have boys to shop for, it somehow seems easier!

Kim Ayres said...

Jennifer - it's true, I never have the same problems buying presents for my son

Stella said...

Happy Birthday Meg!

jotcr2 said...

Toy shops are just overwhelming. Too much stuff for stuff's sake. I agree that the sexy girls stuff is really wrong. Someone is buying the stuff though.

muncher said...

What's a wellie?

Kim Ayres said...

Wellies are short for wellington boots, or rubber boots that keep your feet dry - see Wonderful Wellies for a better idea

Carole said...

What to do when you are waiting to go to the hospital? Read one of Kim's many blogs of course. I am new to the world of DS children and found a site that had beautiful DS dolls. They are quite spendy but I am wondering if this is a good gift for my granddaughter. I don't want to be offensive and I liked them but I just don't know. Yesterday, at work some well meaning soul dropped by with a young lady of 12 who had DS. "Carole I would like you to meant my friend, Abby." Does Abby getted pulled out and carted around to be introduced to everyone who has a DS child or grandchild? Abby seemed shy and curious as to why she was meeting this perfect stranger. I felt bad for Abby and wanted to punch this well meaning soul. She's 40, she's never introduced me to any other 12 year old friends.

Kim Ayres said...

Firstly, I hope all has gone well with your grandaughter. My thoughts are with you

If you haven't already, do read my post Lada Owner's Club.

It's a tricky one, no doubt. But in the end the thing to always remember is that Nebraska is a wee girl first, who just happens to have DS.

Sometimes it's useful talking, or blogging, with other people who know what it's like trying to deal with a society that is ignorant or fearful of our children, but I feel wary about thinking I've somehow joined a "Downs Club".

Meg is a wee girl who has wee girl likes and dislikes, but she's as individual as any other 9 year old girl. We've tried to keep Barbie away from her, as we did with the older girls when they were young, as we don't think they set up a good role model for womanhood or feminitity.

I don't know about the dolls. I've never heard of anything like that, but then I haven't looked.

If I'm honest, I think I'd have to say I'd feel quite uncomfortable if Meg was to be given a DS doll. The reason for this is that it would indicate that the person who gave it is seeing the DS more than they are seeing the wee girl.

Does that make sense?

I can understand the well meaning aspect of it, but to me it's like sticking a label on her.

Your well-meaning friends actions would have horrified me for exactly the same reason.

Fine to bring your 9 year old daughter round to play with my 9 year old daughter, but to bring your DS kid round to play with my DS kid - that would be to show an attitude I don't share or care for.

I don't know if that helps or not.

mary.whitsell@virgin.net said...

You are singing my song: my sisters and I weren't allowed to have Barbies when we were kids; our mother felt that Barbies encouraged girls to be empty-headed clothes horses who wasted their parents' money on silliness. Our clothes were cheap and no-nonsense and were never too nice to keep us from getting them dirty.

I dressed both of my girls in hand-me-down overalls, and felt sorry for their little friends who were in such pretty clothes that they could not play freely for fear of messing them up. When I see little girls dressed in provocative hyper feminine clothes, I wonder what their parents are trying to do -- expose them to potential perverts? Get them married off before their 15th birthdays?

It just doesn't make sense: in the 'developed' world, one of the great advantages of living in this day and age is that children can actually have a childhood. And yet parents seem eager to bypass this -- to push their daughters into adulthood.

Kim Ayres said...

You're right Mary, childhood is over so quickly as it is. Why be so keen to push adulthood so early?