Bear’s third birthday is coming up in a few weeks, so recently I’ve spent a lot of time planning it. We have left it up to him who he invites, what his party theme is and while in the card shop at the weekend we let him pick out his own wrapping paper. As for his presents, I’ve asked him what he would like for his birthday while we’ve wandered around toy shops, have been taking note of things he plays with at friend’s houses when we visit and have bought presents accordingly. The reason I’m sharing all these odd snippets of information is to highlight the importance of scrapping gender specific marketing.
If you follow me on social media, you will know gender specific marketing is a bit of a bug bear of mine. If we want equality in the world, we need to look at the messages we give to children from an early age. This is really important to me and it impacts the way I raise my children, so we tend to avoid any stereotypical connotations to things.
But anyway, back to the birthday preparations. Let’s start with the birthday presents, we’ve decided to put a lot of focus on experiences this year and so for Bear’s main present we are taking him Thomas Land. However, it is always nice to open a present or two, so we bought him a Kiddizoom camera and The Sylvanian Families Cosy Cottage Starter Home. Bear has become really interested in photography since I bought my first ‘proper’ camera and as we are travelling a lot over the next 18 months, thought it would be nice for him to have his own camera. Bear loves playing with the doll house at the library, but they can be a bit on the expensive side, so we decided to buy him a Sylvanian Families set as it is far more affordable. I still have a lot of my old Sylvanian Families sets as well, so it will go nicely with those.
Bear absolutely loves the TV show ‘How to Train Your Dragon’, so it didn’t surprise me when he wanted a ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ themed party. He only asked for a few of his friends to come, so are keeping it simple with a little party at our house, with themed decorations and cake.
At the weekend, we took a trip to our local card shop to look for Mother’s Days cards and while I was there I asked him if he would like a certain wrapping paper for his presents. There were loads hanging up, one with a blue background and cars on, a brown one with presents on and a yellow one with balloons on, but Bear wanted the pink wrapping paper with flowers on it. We spend a lot of time in the garden and I teach him all of the different names for the flowers throughout the year and tell him about how important flowers are for the bees, who visit and pollinate them. He absolutely loves smelling the flowers and looking for all of the creepy crawlies that live among them. So again, it didn’t really surprise me that he picked the pink wrapping paper with flowers on.
These may seem like small and trivial things, but these choices Bear is making really highlight to me just how much he is taking in about the basic foundations of equality. It shows me that he is more focused on what it is that he likes, instead of what is marketed to him because he is male. I’m aware that as he gets older and peer pressure becomes more rooted into his day to day life, his interests may become more guided by what is thought of as ‘for boys’. But by implanting the foundations of equality now, he will be more inclined to question and challenge those outside sources and if an entire generation were to do this, then equality will come to us all a lot sooner.