Unfortunately, despite my best efforts, there are a few barbies floating around this little girlpower house of mine. Yeck. While I’ve never bought one of those oddly proportioned creations, I’ve also never thrown the ones we’ve been given away. Fun fact. After a session of playing with barbies girls are less likely to think they are capable of the same things men are able to do. Even if they are playing with a doctor or scientist barbie. If the girl is playing with something like a potato head they are many times less likely to think so poorly of themselves.
Toys matter. They are the tools through which kids gain perspective and understand the world around them.There are some really good options when it comes to figures that look like my children. Lottie Dolls are some of my favorites. But kids want to play with figures that are aspirational, as well. They work out their understanding of adulthood by playing with toys that look like adults. And for girls, unfortunately, that means barbies or Monster High dolls or the truly alarming Bratz figures. By the time you go down the list, that grinning lycra’d Barbie almost seems benign. So they stay in my house. Because I can’t figure out how to say,
“I know you want to play with something that looks like a grown up, but the only options are hyper-sexualized versions of womanhood or hyper-sexualized versions of teenagehood. So ummmm..go out and paint a rock.”
Lately, my youngest has become interested in superheroes. I have considered it a half-baked respite from the world of dysfunctional girl toys. Ironman, Spiderman and all things Superman. Especially Superman. Like - wears a cape and shouts "Where’s Superman??" anytime she sees red - kind of love. I don’t mind this. In fact, I kind of love it. It seems better than an undying love of Shoe Fairy Barbie. It doesn’t really offend my feminist sensibilities. I don’t just like men, I love them. And she could have worse fixations than a kindly reporter by day, super guy willing to risk everything to save the world by night.
I have felt the void left by the absence of relatable, go get it, girl superheroes. I want my girls to have characters that help them tap into their feminine power. Their total awesomeness. Their intrinsic kickassery. Cool super chicks exist, but they aren’t traditionally accessible to the under ten set like the standby Superdudes. So we watch a lot of The Incredibles, obsess over Elastigirl and talk about how Lois Lane is partners with Superman, not some damsel in distress. It’s not enough, but it’s something.
Guys. Oh my gosh. A collection of female superheroes. Each one a direct representation of the Elements of Courage: Bravery, Honesty, Industry, Persistence, Enthusiasm and Fear. And they look so amazing. Like real strong women wrapped up in steel and superpower. Their tagline makes me weep big - damn straight, girls are amazing - tears.
“If you give a girl a different toy, she will tell a different story.”
I mean. Can I buy five hundred and then just pass them out to toddlers in the grocery store? An action figure that appeals to both boys and girls! That empowers! That illuminates! That is about principle rather than plastic. Holy, hell. My head is about to explode with the sheer joy of the thing.
The I Am Elemental Kickstarter just funded at 452% of their original goal. But you can still pre-order for the holidays, here.
Your girls are elemental. (As are you. Take a minute to read this.) Now give them the tools and toys to help them figure it out.