Genderizing Kids Necessities Is Ridiculous

Barbie life vestAll I needed was a life vest for my 3-year-old son for the backyard swim party we attended last weekend. A typical, life-saving, flotation device.

When I arrived at the store, what was left and available for me to buy? Half a dozen pink, flowery Barbie life vests. That's it.

Really, people?


Now I consider myself extremely open-minded when it comes to social gender roles. If my boys are interested in something, I don't spend much time worrying about what might be perceived as too girlish for them. They've worn nail polish and come home from preschool in girl undies after they've had an accident. My oldest wore a pair of Dora sleeper jams for a few years.

However, this isn't about me. This is about my boys. And socialized or whatever you want to blame it on, they've both moved past the point where they're going to pick the pink options. If I came home with a Barbie life vest for either one of them, they'd look at me like I was crazy.

And if I'm going to spend over $30 on a life vest, something my youngest needs in order to NOT end up dead on the bottom of a pool, then it better be a life vest he's going to wear.

This drives me crazy. This genderizing (and commercializing) of every single thing -- from pull-ups and water bottles to sports equipment and Happy Meal toys. If anything is contributing to strictly defined gender roles, it's this kind of malarkey. It limits kids' thinking. It decides for them, before they've even stepped up to make the decision, what they will like if they are a boy or a girl.

So, of course, I didn't buy the Barbie life vest. I figured I'd just limit my son to the baby pool for safety's sake. But when we arrived at the party, there was an extra life vest for him to wear. His cousin's girly pink Dora life vest. And he wore it and swam with his cousins all day long and didn't even notice who was on his life vest. His big brother didn't notice.

So maybe I'm wrong. Maybe this is about me. Hmmm. But either way, I'm never ever going to buy a Barbie life vest, and I still think the fact that they even make them is ridiculous.

What do you think about genderized kids' products and necessities? For or against?


Image via Target

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