My Son Wants A New Doll…

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playing with dolls new

My son wants a new doll, he has given his other one’s to his younger siblings. Now, he would like a more “grown up” one. One that is a bit more like him.

I find an Internet store selling nice dolls and they even have a “eco-friendly” box you can tick to select one you like from that range. However, I am not quite clear what they mean by “eco-friendly” and decide to ring them. The conversation goes as follows:

Me: Oh hello, I would like to find out what the criteria for your “eco -friendly” dolls are? I assume they are all phthalate-free?

Shop-owner: Oh yes, they are all phthalate-free. The dolls in the eco-friendly section have all been made in Europe, but they are all made of the same materials, more or less.

Me: Ah, great. Good to know. Then we could choose one from that range…

Shop-owner (interrupts me… wanting to help me choose): How old is the girl you would like to buy a doll for?

Me: Ah, ehm, my son is seven.

Shop-owner: Oh. (Pause) That’s good you are buying a doll for your son.

Me: Eh… yes. He has outgrown his other one’s and would like a new one and I thought I try and buy one that’s as eco-friendly as possible.

Shop-owner: Yes, we have very nice boy dolls. Have you seen our pirate boy doll on the website?

Me: Yes, he doesn’t like that one. He doesn’t really like pirates and dolls with short hair.

Shop-owner: Oh, but that brand has other boy dolls, I could order some in for you.

Me: Hm… he would like the doll to sort of look similar to him and he has long hair and all the boy dolls have short hair.

Shop-owner: Oh. Well, you could also buy boy clothes…

Me: But, he likes their beautiful dresses. And seeing that he likes wearing dresses too…. and anyhow, I guess the dolls you are selling, well most of them, could really be boy or girl as they don’t have body parts anyway, have they?

Shop-owner: No, that’s true. Hm… you have quite a character there *laughs*

Me: Eh!? Yeah…

Then she proceeded to explain more about the different brands and that some of their dolls are made in China and how some are shipped from China to America, then to Europe and which one’s she liked best. Bla, bla, bla.

In the end it left me feeling a bit odd. My son had also listened to the conversation (being so excited about finally getting his doll…) and I felt sad he had to listen to his dad AGAIN having to explain to others that really boys can like dresses and long hair and dolls, too. Does he feel he is not normal, that his dad has to explain his choices to others? How different would the conversation have been had I said the doll is for my daughter?

IMG_3223Why don’t toy shops sell dolls? Just dolls. Rather than boy or girl dolls? Why have some dolls “make up” on, i.e. red painted lips and dark eyelashes, very rosy cheeks etc.? Yes, can you hear me Mattel? It’s not good enough to have a boy in your ads, the actual problem lies in the doll itself. Barbie doesn’t look very natural to me.

Apparently, children at the age of my son, want dolls as an identification figure. But the only dolls I can find that, sort of, look like him (meaning having long hair) are “girls”. Well, I try and pretend they aren’t but they all have a female name and many very gendered clothing.

However, maybe the more we speak to toy shop owners directly, the more they will think: it’s not just the odd one out. The one weird child… there must be others, like my son! Well, I don’t care if not, he is definitely wonderfully unique, and just right the way he is!

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Author: Torsten Klaus

I'm here to talk about modern fatherhood and about the way dads of the 21st century could live a happy, content and relaxed life. What actually is modern fatherhood? Fathers who can show empathy, who can listen and reflect, fathers who love unconditionally. I'm the author of the amazon bestseller 'The Empathic Father' and I believe in equal parenting.

9 thoughts on “My Son Wants A New Doll…

  1. My 6 year old son has long hair too. Yesterday he bought a toy boat and the shop assistant asked, so are you buying that for your boyfriend then? They obviously thought he was a girl and so wouldn’t want a boat toy! My poor son was really confused and didn’t know what to say!

    • We get that very often as well. My & year old son has lomg hair, loves wearing dresses and when we go to shops/cafes/playgrounds people think he’s a girl. And, yes, the comments. We/I often respond by giving them the truth ‘Oh, HE is actually a BOY. But nevermind, we buy the boat for a friend!’ – That leaves them a little speechless. 😉

  2. Start your own line of custom made dolls! 😉

  3. I’m glad to hear there’s kids out there who are rising above the gender stereotypes, although sad, people out there can be so closed-minded. Each time my daughter got compliments about her lovely dress or how nice she looks I feel like society is shaping her into a girl where looks are what matters. She was once in tears because she couldn’t find a lovely dress to wear, and thought that would mean she was a boy!

    • Yes, I find it alarming how our children are being affected by gender stereotypes. For me it is so important to trust my children in what they choose to wear, to play with… so they become self-confident when approached. Step by step we can change old-fashioned ideas about gender roles.

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