With Metric blaring in the background, you can't help but cheer on the little girl as she steps out of the assembly line in GoldieBlox's ad for their new Zipline Action Figure. We see her slowly reach into her belt for a hammer, and we know what's coming next.
It's a well-produced ad and it's hard not to smile during the ending as GoldieBlox's product is revealed.
The message in the ad is clear: Let's attempt to smash gender stereotypes. Let's break through the mold that society created for little girls. Let's destroy the idea that beauty equals perfection. Let's revolutionize the toy industry.
And, people have definitely noticed this trailblazing effort to do exactly that. In recent days, there has been a flurry of articles written about the company. Many writers have noted the homage paid to Apple's 1984 ad, and many have also praised GoldieBlox for introducing a toy for girls that isn't a Barbie-like product.
Additionally, however, piles of compliments have poured in. People are reacting as though this toy is the end of a sexist era.
GoldieBlox's Zipline Action Figure is a step in the right direction, but everyone needs to calm down a little because it's definitely not the ultimate answer. There are still some issues in the gender-specific marketing of toys that we need to address.
Obviously, it is great to see women represented in action figures. And, it's also undeniably positive that we are moving toward a society in which girls aren't limited to playing with dolls that promote unrealistic body images.
But, what people should realize is that girls don't have to play with "girl dolls." Girls should be encouraged to play with whatever toys interest them, which may mean Ninja Turtles or Transformers. Girls can also choose to play with action figures that are male.
It would be amazing to see more gender-neutral products on the shelves and more toys that encourage critical thinking and puzzle-solving. It would be even better to shift toward an attitude where girls and boys are encouraged to seek out toys that are marketed as gender-neutral.
At the same time, girls should also be able to express genuine interest in Barbie dolls, if that's what truly appeals to them. It's okay to be feminine, and it's okay to be a girly girl. An attitude that comes with the praise for GoldieBlox seems condescending toward girls who may genuinely enjoy the color pink and not just because they are told to.
Playing with toys is not only fun for children, but also allows them to explore their interests. When growing up, toys were our vehicles of expression; we created stories with them and we also learned about ourselves.
Considering that children can identify gender as early as age two, we should allow them to use toys as a means for figuring out who they are. We should encourage and embrace this.
If little kids have a host of options, and if parents provide them with the freedom to explore who they are, it shouldn't matter with which toys they choose to play. We should encourage children to explore their gender identities through a range of different products.
The bottom line is this: If a little girl wants to play with a silver and blue Power Ranger, she should. If a boy wants to play with a Disney Princess, he should. And, if a girl wants to play with Barbie, she also should be able to do so without facing society's turned-up noses.