As soon as I switched on the news this morning, the very first story grabbed my attention. Considering I hadn’t had my morning cuppa, this was quite an achievement. The reporter was talking about an issue that has often drifted into my consciousness, and makes me consider different viewpoints every time – the debate around children’s toys, gender segregation and the potential damage it can do to a kid’s ambitions.
Let me give you my first thoughts. As a child, I was exceptionally tomboyish. I don’t think I ever wanted to play with dolls – I loved reading adventure books, playing outside and on Super Mario and Zelda (games in which, admittedly, the ultimate aim is to save a captured princess) and pleading with my older male cousin to let me borrow his Action Man. Yes, I loved dressing up with my friends and pretending to be the Spice Girls, but even then I was always Sporty Spice, drawing barbed wire tattoos onto my arms with felt tips.
Yet despite all of these perceived ‘non-girly’ traits, at the age of 23 I now spend my days writing and talking about beauty, fashion and lifestyle. I sometimes wonder how on earth it all came to be, but I’m not complaining. I have a degree in Broadcast Journalism, a professional that was traditionally male-dominated, yet so far my main focus has been on the more ‘feminine’ side of the media world. Saying all of that (and I know you’re going to get angry at me again for being so vague), the secret project I’ve been working on for the past 18 months is very much the opposite, but as I can’t expand on that at the moment I’ll ignore that point for now…
Now, that’s not to say that the beauty and fashion worlds are an exclusive girls’ club – in fact, some of my favourite people from these industries are men. However, my point stands that I have happened to go into an industry predominantly aimed at women despite a very tomboy-oriented childhood (let’s face it, I’m still a tomboy at heart. I’m sure my friends still think it’s hilarious that I’ve ended up doing what I’m doing). I always say that I fell into doing YouTube make up tutorials by accident, and always tried to focus on the form as an art more than anything else, but nonetheless it is what fills my days.
But I’m just one person. One case study, one example. I would absolutely love to know what you think about this, and to hear of your experiences too. In the past, I’ve had all sorts of explanations given to me, the most popular being that I obviously ‘missed out’ on being girly as a kid, so I’m ‘making up for it’ now. Yawn – I was as happy as larry being a tomboy, and wouldn’t change a thing.
As for the general toys debate, there is little doubt that gender segregation is rife. You only need to step into a toy shop, or down the children’s aisle in a supermarket to see that. But as for damaging the future ambitions and dreams of the nation’s kids – I’m not sure. I can totally, 100% see how it could be the case, but personally I haven’t experienced it.
So what’s your take on this? Was your room filled with My Little Pony and Barbie memorabilia as a little girl, or Transformers and Action Man as a boy, and how do you think it has impacted on your future? Have you ever felt pushed in a particular direction, or excluded/dissuaded from pursuing a particular path?
For me, the jury’s out – over to you!