gender bending toys: how to tell if a toy is for a boy or a girl

I think and talk a lot about not pigeonholing girls into what are typically thought of as “girl” categories. I’m the mother of two girls, so that makes sense, no?

I know that making girls believe they belong in certain categories (whether on purpose or by accident) can be seriously stifling. And I think the same thing is true for boys.

The whole gender neutral toy thing is sort of a hot button issue. There’s this whole should girls toys all be pink and purple battle that people spit fire over. I have a difficult time falling on either side of the argument because I don’t think either side is completely right.

Should girls only have pink and purple marketed to them while boys have darker more “masculine” colors aimed at them? No. You know why? Not all human beings are the same. Some girls (like mine) really like pink and purple. They have a pink and purple bedroom and I routinely joke about the fact that it looks like someone vomited pink and purple all over our house. There’s nothing wrong with that. They like it. Some girls really don’t like pink and purple. There’s nothing wrong with that either. They’re colors. There should be a variety available for the variety of personalities out there.

Then there’s the whole debate about boys playing with dolls and girls playing with trucks. As a mother whose three year old can frequently be found hammering away at her work bench while wearing high heels, I think it’s ridiculous that this is even a conversation.

gender bending toys: how to tell if a toy is for a boy or a girlvia Kristen Myers Design

My opinion on the matter is simple: kids should be allowed to be kids. If that means a boy wants to throw on a wedding veil and feed a baby doll while his sister digs for worms in the dirt with her dump truck, they should be allowed to do so without feeling like there’s anything wrong with it.

Our kids will have their entire adulthood to be aware of prejudices and misconceptions based on their choices. Don’t put that on them now.

Also, newsflash to those worrying about their children’s sexuality: If your kid is going to be gay it’s going to happen whether you let him play with dolls or not. The toys he chooses to play with will not make him gay. Biology will. And if you’re seriously concerned about your 3 year old’s sexuality or what implications their choice in toys might have or might convey to others, you are a bigger problem than the toys.

End rant.gender bending toys

1 Melissa & Doug wooden medieval castle / 2 Melissa & Doug royal family wooden doll set / 3 Baby Stella doll, boy / 4 The New York Doll Collection Umbrella Doll Stroller
5 LEGO Friends Emma karate class / 6 Green Toys race car / 7 Green Toys dump truck
8 Easy Bake Ultimate Oven / 9 KidKraft Everyday Heroes playset / 10 Melissa & Doug shopping cart / 11 Melissa & Doug wooden project workbench / 12 Educational Insights dishes set / 13 KidKraft Vintage Kitchen / 14 Pottery Barn Kids wooden appliances and coffee maker

As for the other side of the argument: playing with princesses doesn’t mean my daughters will be prissy damsels in distress. In fact, the other day, Ellie was busy playing with “Dr. Princess Sophia” who was saving some pirates from trouble. For her, gender differences are not an issue. And they won’t be until someone makes it an issue for her. She likes what she likes and she plays with it—whether that means she’s into princesses or pirates or both at the same time.

What are your thoughts on the issue? Do you agree with me or do you think boys should play with “boy things” and girls should play with “girl things?”

Written by Jennifer Garry
Jen is a freelance writer and girl mom from New York. When she's not knee-deep in glittery crafts and girl talk, you can probably find her sprawled across her couch in the middle of a Netflix marathon with dark chocolate smeared on her face. The struggle is real.