I walked into Pottery Barn Kids with my girls yesterday and they darted into this.
It was the girls bedroom display. It was filled with dolls, baby carriages, phones (yup telephones), kitchen stuff, jewelry boxes with the little dancing ballerina, butterflies, and flowers. All playing in some way or another into the princess effect. (more on the princess effect here and here)
As my girls ran into the girl side, I looked across the aisle to the boys side and saw this;
The boys room display was filled with books, puzzles, science mobiles, pictures of the constellations, chalkboards for writing and more.
I couldn’t help but feel the contrast. There was nothing in the girls display emphasizing learning, or intelligence. There were no books. There were no constellation posters, or puzzles, or brain games, there was nothing that suggested girls like to learn. The room was filled with 1950’s stereotypes. Girls cook, take care of babies, need places for the jewelry a man gets them and talk on the phone.
Our daughters deserve more. I spend everyday letting my daughters know there is nothing they can’t do. That science isn’t just for boys. That sports are as much for girls as they are for boys, that their youth isn’t about preparing for marriage.
I get sales and marketing and the need to cater to your audience. However, sales also includes influence. Young girls are very impressionable. Pottery Barn Kids and other retailers can be creative in merchandising for girls and include intellectual products. They very easily could have had puzzles, science mobiles, books and more displayed and targeted to a little girl audience. Sales is no excuse for not raising the bar for what we market to our girls.
After a few minutes, I pointed my girls to the boys side. They hustled over and started playing with the puzzle. I asked my 4 year old what the planets were, pointing to the mobile above her head, she named; Pluto, Mercury, Saturn and Venus (she didn’t name the earth, 🙂 oh well, I was still impressed). They grabbed some books off the book shelf and started to read, the way only a two and four year old can read.
When they were on the girls side they observed. When they were on the boys side, they interacted. The message being sent was sad to me.
Our little girls deserve more from our society. They are more than butterflies, phones, kitchen stoves and jewelry boxes. They are little scientists, Dr’s, entrepreneur’s, computer programmers, accountants, and professional skiers. If we keep from telling them this until they are older, it’ll be too late and they won’t believe it.
PB Kids, start telling our girls who they are now. They deserve more and so do we.