Category Archives: Feminism

Insert witty title here…

Just a few observations from my day;  big props to the Children’s Place for having the space commander costume right next to all the other costumes for little girls at the store.

Space Commander!

Massive fail to WalMart and Monster High for having this costume in a size 4-6.   (Any size really, but seriously!)

A mixed review for “Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse,” by Kevin Henkes.  I really loved how her career options included surgeon or ambulance driver, but my face did this when the options were “surgeon, ambulance driver, diva.”

Just to make sure we understand that little girls can aspire to be “divas,” he says it again at the end.  “She really did want to be a teacher when she grew up.  That is, when she didn’t want to be a dancer or a surgeon or an ambulance driver or a diva or a pilot or a hairdresser or a scuba diver…”

One of those is not like the others.  Diva is not a career choice.  Not for little girls.  Not for little boys.  Not for anyone.

Pretty has nothing to do with it…

When I was a little girl having a hard time with math homework, my grandfather once said to me in his kindest voice:  “It’s ok honey, girls just aren’t good at math.”

My father was, rightfully, furious.  I didn’t understand why.  I felt like I was a pretty smart girl, and knew that gender did not determine mathematical ability.  But still, those tiny grains of sand (which are not so tiny coming from loved ones!) all add up to one giant beach of opinion that it can be hard to see around.

Sometimes the messages are subtle;  like the fact that Chasing Fireflies carries this sweet shirt for little boys.  Part of their “when I grow up” series, little boys can be a fireman, policeman, or astronaut.   I’m not bothering with gender neutral terms like “fire fighter,” or “police officer,” because the girls on the site don’t even get a “when I grow up” option.  It doesn’t even exist for them.

In the latest round of “marketers suck,” JC Penney has just pulled their latest catastrophe from shelves:  a t-shirt for little girls which read “Too pretty to do homework, so I have my brother do it for me.”   The shirt has been pulled, but let’s face it;  in a world where anyone thinks this is ok, or the latest thing, and they should sell it to little girls, this is just ONE tiny block in the tower of sexism surrounding our girls.

Then there is Pigtail Pals.  Check out their response, “Pretty has nothing to do with it!”  I love it.   Maybe if we all continue to squawk to retailers when they shove “too pretty to do homework” messages at our girls, the messages will change.

The fat babies are coming to get you!

Eeeeks!  Fat babies!!!!

Eeeeks! Fat babies!!!!

So this past week I’ve gotten myself all in a tizzy over two articles  targeting “obese” babies as a cause of… you guessed it… childhood obesity, adult obesity, and every other bad thing they can throw at these poor kids.

The first article, by NPR, is titled:  To curb childhood obesity, experts say to keep baby fat in check.  This is accompanied by a picture much like the one I’ve posted here, of a sweetly chubby baby with tons of delicious and nommable rolls.   The recommendations in this article really aren’t so bad, and include things like encouraging kids to be active, limiting tv/screen exposure, breastfeeding longer.  Of course, those recommendations are actually (mostly, aside from the breastfeeding recommendation) geared towards 2-5 year olds, and NOT babies under a year old.  My issue with this article is more that the title and photo are cheap journalism which doesn’t do anything but fan the flames of fat hate already directed at kids.

In case you aren’t sure, I’m 100% anti-fat-hate.   You can go on hating fat kids and adults if you like, but I promise you that it isn’t going to cause any of them to suddenly become “thin.”

The next article, published by PBS, employs the same cheap tactics as the first.  An inflammatory headline “15 tips to combat obesity in babies,” accompanied by another sweet chubby baby.

The reason I find these tactics to be both cheap and frankly disgusting and irresponsible is because fat hate is already at a frenzy in this country.  Seriously, we don’t need to get anyone else all hot and bothered to hate on fat people or fat kids.  We already have enough hate thrown at us on a daily basis, and as someone who grew up fat I can tell you that all the hating everyone did of my body helped me not at all to become more healthy.

We already have people starving their babies to keep them “thin,” parents taking perverse pride in skinny/underweight babies, and small children worried that they “look fat,” that being thin means you are nice and being fat means you are bad.  Of course the bulk of this is going to come down on our little girls.

See, the fat shame?  That’s already covered.  That’s already so prevalent in our society that kids pick it up as they grow.  Kids are smart, they can pick up on that without anyone even saying the word “fat” to them.  The other day, my sweet girl, now an athletic busy preschooler asked me why my body is so big and wide.  She can notice differences without my having to tell her, fancy that!

What we don’t have is the world encouraging our children, at whatever shape and size, to be more active.  To get out, join teams, do their best, move their bodies and HAVE FUN, at whatever size they are.  That’s what we don’t have.  The fat hate?  We really don’t need more, and we certainly don’t need to target the smallest and most vulnerable of our population.

If you are a parent, I highly recommend this article and ideas from bulimia.com, which target body image issues among young children.   Let’s love our children at every shape and size and enable them to love themselves so that they can move and nourish their bodies without shame, without fear, without hate.

It’s never too soon to start toning!

As evidenced by this recent find at Payless, of toning sneakers sized for TODDLERS.

Dear Toddlers:  Your bodies need toning!

Kudos to Unos!

But not for me, because I have not posted in forever and thus clearly suck.  OR, every time I approach my computer my daughter becomes completely insistent that she neeeeeeeds me RIGHT NOW MOMMY or else just asks me a million questions so I can’t connect two thoughts together.  Many thanks to the Wild Kratts for distracting her right now!

Anyway I took her for lunch at Uno’s Pizzeria recently and was peeking at their kids menu, and check it out!!!!   Kickin’ Kristen next to Pasta Pete!  And on the back, two little tough looking soccer girls!  Can you believe it?  Little girls featured doing *sports*, who are not skinny or wearing pink!

Sorry for the craptastic cell phone pictures, I probably should have brought the menu home and scanned it in so it’d be all pretty and all.  Anyway I am thrilled with Uno’s over this, and they have a “make your own” pizza for kids that is pretty fun, plus a weekday lunch soup bar that is pretty awesome as well.  Go check it out!

Gender Disparity in Children’s Books

Well this sure doesn’t come as a surprise to any mom of girls who has looked for strong female leads in children’s books, but Science Daily is reporting on a study that shows that from 1900 to 2000 the gender disparity in books (heavily favoring males) did not change.  Except to get worse in the 50’s.  Great.

Why does this matter?

Since children’s books are a “dominant blueprint of shared cultural values, meanings, and expectations,” the authors say the disparity between male and female characters is sending children a message that “women and girls occupy a less important role in society than men or boys.” Books contribute to how children understand what is expected of women and men, and shape the way children will think about their own place in the world

On that note, I just found this really sweet book called Kiki’s Blankie at the local library.  In this book Kiki is a little monkey who loves her blue blankie so much that she rescues it from a very scary situation.   I was reading this to my daughter and some friends at the library and one little girl kept arguing with me that Kiki is a boy monkey.  She is not obviously a girl (ie: long hair, bedecked in pink) so she MUST be a boy, right?

Book Review: My Name is Not Isabella

My Name is not Isabella

Super cute illustrations!

I saw this book and bought it on impulse, which I am *trying* not to do because we have literally a zillion or so books and I just am flatly unable to ever rehome books.  They are BOOKS.  We’ve been doing a lot at the library lately which is great!  This one grabbed me at the bookstore though, with its subtitle of “Just How Big Can a Little Girl Dream?”

The one thing that bugged me when I picked it up is that it was shelved with the “boy” equivalent book, except the subtitle of the boy version is “Just how big can a little KID dream.”  Girls are kids too!  (I know, nitpicky, but I’m a nitpicky person dammit.)

The book has a really cute concept where a little girl pretends to be several different female heroines;  Sally Ride, Rosa Parks, Marie Curie are a few of them.  I love that, and I love how at the end of the book there is a quick paragraph about each of these amazing women and what they were famous for.

I don’t love that there is actually no *story* here.  There is no real conflict or problem to be resolved;  just a little girl pretending, so for me it gets a bit repetitive.   Not repetitive in a lovely lyrical way that is fun to read, but repetitive in the… *yawwwwn* way.

To sum up, I’d say get this one from the library.  I’m just bummed because I impulse-bought it.   And paid full price.  Hmph.