Eight Year Old Blasts Gender Stereotypes

by 22paris on November 4, 2016 - 2:36pm

      What exactly comes to mind when you hear the words and phrases: “Think outside the box,” “hero,” “let’s explore” and “desert adventure awaits?” Most would answer that question with words such as, daring, creative, courageous, etc. These phrases were displayed boldly on t-shirts within the boys’ section of a clothing store, symbolizing the world’s image of the stereotypical boy. An eight year old girl from the U.K. realized something was wrong when she traveled from that section of clothing to the girls’.

      Daisy Edmonds expressed to her mother her concern of gender stereotyping within the store, as her mother recorded the eight year old on her phone. Unlike the messages on the t-shirts described above, the phrases on the girls’ section included things such as “I feel fabulous,” “hey,” and “beautiful.” The little girl could not understand why the shirts in the boy section were inspiring, whereas the clothing for girls was not. Edmond says within the video, “It’s unfair because everyone thinks that girls should just be pretty, and boys should just be adventurous... Why should boys and girls clothes even be separated? Because we’re just as good as each other.” The girl then goes on to explain that the clothing gives boys a message to follow their dreams, whereas the clothing within the girls’ aisle is simply pink and uninspiring. Edmonds later on in the video chooses to buy a “boy’s shirt” in her favorite color (green) and scatters some of the shirts with inspiring messages into the girls’ section. The mother of Edmonds has since posted the video to Facebook, where it has gone viral.

      Although many would see this idea of an eight year old expressing her opinion on gender stereotyping as shocking for her age, it actually is a normal thing. According to TrueChild Institute, “children become aware of gender and ethnic stereotypes around 3 years old, and they begin internalizing them as early as kindergarten.” As I watched the video regarding the clothing, it was outrageous to me that a child could see what was wrong with the underlying message within the retail, but adults could not. Retailers put these products on the shelves, without even thinking about the gender stereotypes that are as clear as day on their products. When I was a child, I was considered the stereotypical girly-girl. I loved pink, Barbies, glitter, etc. I now question if that was my own opinion, or was that overall idea something my parents unintentionally inflicted upon their one daughter. I personally am not a parent, but I find myself pondering about what the future will be like when I do have children. I have always envisioned putting my daughter in pageants and my future son in basketball, but I see now that maybe that idea is wrong. As a parent you have to ask yourself, “Am I tuning into my own biases? Or do they actually want to do this sport, or have this toy?” The solution to this overall problem is pretty simple. We have to reinforce behaviors that shatter stereotypes, because as Edmonds stated, “(children) are just as good as each other.” That is regardless of their gender, favorite color, or the clothes they wear.

 

                                                                                                                                                           

                                                                                                Works Cited

Feldman, Jamie. "Watch This Little Girl Destroy Gender Stereotypes In Clothing." The Huffington Post, 4 Oct. 2016,

       www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/clothing-stereotypes-daisy-tesco_us_57f3ae9....

"TrueChild: Myths & Facts." TrueChild: Let Every Child Shine, www.truechild.org/PageDisplay.asp?p1=6211.

 

Comments

22paris,
I want to first say that this was very well written and your title was intriguing. I have to say this is by far my favorite piece I have read through out this assignment. Your ideas flowed from one to the next very smoothly and I had no trouble at all following your thoughts while I was reading. I like how you used your own personal experiences to express your main idea and this helped drive it home for me. I can honestly say that much of my " girly-girl-ness" as well was instilled by how I was raised. I was bought dolls and not cars to play with, I was taught how to cook and clean but not how to change the oil in my car. As a woman I can relate to this topic. I was wondering if while researching this topic you found any accounts of boys " blasting the gender stereo types" as well? I think adding a boys view on this it would show a great comparison on the difference in gender views. Again, I enjoyed this very much! Great Job!
Nikki M

Hi there,
First of all, great post! I chose to read your post because the title immediately caught my attention. On top of that, as soon as I went into your introduction piece, your writing style drew me in and I had no difficulty following your summarized story and opinion. Gender stereotypes is always a critical topic but many disregards when and how it is represented in our social life. Indeed, it is very interesting that many children at the age of eight have doubts about these stereotypes yet not many adults do. This may be because children at that age are still learning and understanding what gender is and what role it plays in the social life whereas adults already know (or we think we know) the distinction.

Toys are another feature where gender stereotypes appear. In an article that I read recently, it said that toys have been heavily focused on gender roles since the 1920s. In fact, in 1925, Sears advertised their toy-broom with a quote that said: “Mothers! Here is a real practical toy for little girls. Every little girl likes to play house, to swap, and to do mother’s work for her.” While girls’ toys were emphasized on homemaking and domestic task, boys’ toys were more focused on work and industrial economy. However, it said that as time goes by these gender-coded toys declined because gender role in society started to change. From the 1970s, more women started to work and therefore, housework has become an equal workload for both men and women. This phenomenon directly influenced toys and store advertisements started to show the diversity of gender and toys. Children can learn so many from toys and I believe expanding options and giving freedom is very important for them to be prepared for the future. Do you think that goes the same for clothes as well? Also, do you think that gender-coded clothes has changed or has it been the same after the 70s?

Cheers!
Aoi
P.S. The link below is the article that I mentioned.
http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/12/toys-are-more-divide...

Your post made me smile, 22paris. I am always glad to hear about protests to gender stereotypes, no matter how small they are – or how small the protester is. That an eight year old was able to recognize the ways that gender is policed by social expectations, and to articulate her issues with this policing, is great. I am also a protester of gender stereotypes, and am glad that this young advocate is on our team!

As someone who works at Walmart to make ends meet right now, I spend my shifts in a building filled with gender stereotypes and expectations for children. There are girls’ toys and boys’ toys – thankfully, they are not labelled as such (usually), however, they are marketed to certain genders. Little boys are shown on all the Nerf packaging, for example, exept on the pink and purple bow and arrow set. That one is for girls. And of course, it’s called the Rebel. Is it really that rebellious to want to play with Nerf as a little girl?

Clothing is worse – it’s exactly like what you describe in your post. Kids’ and babies’ clothing is entirely gendered: baby boys can wear shirts with constuction vehicles and sports equipment adoring them, but girls get frills and sparkles. Girl-marketing clothing suggests inaction and passivity. Socially, we reproduce the ideas that these qualities are inferior.

I encourage you to keep looking into issues like this, and to stories of people protesting gender stereotypes. I find it especially interesting that this situation is about a child taking action – perhaps it’s in the hands of younger people to keep pushing for change. Check out Everyday Feminism (http://everydayfeminism.com/) as they often post interesting articles as well!

Hi 22paris!
I really enjoyed reading your post, the issue of gender stereotyping is something I have always been compassionate about. I found your personal connections to the issue quite inspiring and insightful, which made me connect really well to your thoughts on the matter.
The article you reflected on made me very excited to see the changes occurring towards gender stereotyping, and how it is now transitioning towards the youth. What I found most exciting about your post, is how it shows an eight-year old girl is asking questions about gender roles. To expand, most of the time parents just tell their kids to do one thing or another because "that's the way things are"
Being a girl, I have always found it frustrating how people expect me to wear certain clothing or get the girl toy in my happy meals at McDonalds, even though I would think the "boys" ones were cooler. Unfortunately this issue has always been around, making it very difficult to phase out people traditional views. For instance, this was seen a few months ago when people got mad in regards to a male model on the cover for CoverGirl!
I know the solution is easier said than done, but I think a good way get more awareness is towards changing marketing techniques for gender-neutral products. attached in this comment is a site that reflects the power of advertising to gender stereotypes. As mentioned in this article, advertisements normalize what genders should and should not do. With this being said, we can use this power to reverse the effects that have already took place. For example, commercials can be made which include both boys AND girls playing with a toy, so it will be "acceptable" for both genders to be interested in it.
https://storify.com/kae_boykin/history-of-gender-sterotypes-in-children-...

Hi,

I thought your post was really well written. It brought my attention because a young girl was able to see something that adult can't. We have been normalized to see gender stereotypes but this generation is starting to fight against that. We want equality for all, girls and boys can achieve anything they want and not be restricted of things based on their sex.

This brought me to think about how this happens pretty often in sports. I have started playing Quidditch the past two years which is a fully competitive, gender integrated, and full contact sport. It's awesome how they have integrated both genders into a sport which can be played at high level. We play universities from across the country. And there is even an intentional competition every two years! This is the first gender integrated sport that I have seen / played / heard of that plays at such a high competitive level. Typically when you get to high competitive levels, there are only teams composed of all males or females. But even within Quidditch there is still some gender stereotypes. Almost always keepers are played by large men that can guard the hoops. I have only seen 1 female keeper. With that being said I think Quidditch has taken the right steps forward to a gender neutral world and I hope to see more sports welcome females and males to play competitively together!

This is a really cute story and I am glad you shared it. I think this speaks a lot of what we can do as parents, and it sounds like the mother of this eight year old did a great job. If it does not hurt the child then let them pick what they want. There is really no such thing as a boy's or girl's section but its all just clothes. If it fits, anyone can wear anything and this young girl helps us to see that.

Hello,
First off I'd like to say that this was a great post. I really enjoyed reading this. I choose this post because this was something that I had little knowledge on. I wanted grasp as much knowledge as I can on this particular subject and this post was very informative. Opened up new insights that I didn’t know. The title was also very catching a blew me away. Sometimes the title is all you need to persuade a reader to read your blog post and you did just that. Great job and well done!

Hello there,

Thank you for the insightful analysis of the relationship between young children and our gender-polarized culture. I first saw this video a few weeks ago and I was quite surprised at how aware eight-year-old Daisy Edmonds was of the differences between products that are produced to appeal to young girls and those that are designed to appeal to young boys. However, when I think critically about it, it makes perfect sense! Children are not born with preconceived notions of what clothes girls should wear or which toys boys should play with. Rather, children are influenced by the ideas that they are exposed to and grow up to believe that boys and girls should act in certain distinctive ways and carry separate values. In that context, it is no surprise that Miss Edmonds is able to detect the inequalities between boys’ and girls’ clothing- she is young and the inequality has not yet become normalized in the mind. Meanwhile, adults see each of the two very separate categories of clothing as inherently appealing to boys, or to girls, but not both. She is brave to question the fact that women are expected to conform to a set of expectations and I am glad that her mother is accepting of whichever clothes she decides to wear.
Do you have any advice about how parents should explain gender inequality at such a young age?

All the best!