Today I took the children to the shops to pick up a few bits and pieces. As I browsed my local Mothercare my children started playing with an offensively pink toy, so I took a look at it. What I saw prompted me to write this blog post, here is the Fisher Price laugh and learn magical musical mirror ;
If you would like to read more details it is available on Amazon. Basically it’s a vanity mirror with a comb, powder puff, lipstick and two bracelets. It has a lift up flap that in the time I looked at it said to me “you’re pretty”. Oh and it is aimed at six months plus. So we are basically talking about a vanity mirror for babies/toddlers to role play putting on make-up after which they are told they “look pretty”. Is it just me or is this all kinds of wrong ??
As the mother of a 15 month old girl this is not the message I want to send to her, or any of the future generation of young women. I want my daughter to grow up with strong self esteem, to love her body (and her face) for it’s own unique beauty. I want her to prioritise love, strength, intelligence, compassion, kindness, in fact many many qualities over beauty.
I feel so strongly about this that I would like this product (and preferably others like it) taken off the shelf. I know that I can’t stop her eventually reading magazines, watching television and being sold vanity as an older child, hopefully by then she will already be able to see it for what it is. However as a toddler, to be exposed to that is totally unnecessary and, I have to repeat myself this is a rant, all kinds of wrong !!
If you feel the same way please share this post wherever you can, perhaps we can get the attention of Fisher Price and at least in a small way make a difference.
*Amended. I have had a lot of responses to this post talking about play make up sets remembered from childhood and dressing up in mums clothes. Just to be clear I also played with make up as a child, I painted my nails and played with lipstick. The point is I was at least 3+ at the time. You have no memory of being six months old, so you don’t remember being given make up at that age, I doubt you would have been.
What it is that I strongly object to here is the age range that this product is being marketed to. Do you really want your six month old learning about make up ? Do you really want your toddler’s first words to be ‘lipstick’ or ‘you’re pretty’ ? Perhaps I’m out on a limb here, it feels a little like I am, please share your thoughts folk.
I think a girl can grow up with strong self esteem, love her body (and her face) for itâ€™s own unique beauty and prioritise love, strength, intelligence, compassion, kindness and many other qualities despite playing with a toy like that. I played dress up with my sister or raided my mum’s make-up bag to smear lipstick all over my face. I think it really depends on the environment your parents create for you and how they raise you. I doubt Wonder Girl would turn into a spoilt little brat with a horrible attitude, if she played with this mirror…
I agree that an older child will play with lipstick, be a princess, have a pink phase. This toy is aimed at toddlers like Wonder Girl and your daughter. She doesn’t know what make up is, or what vanity means. It’s too young to introduce the concept I think.
But they don’t know what the utensils are for. To tollders they are just toys to explore and mirrors come with many toys…
Ok I guess we will have to agree to disagree , Wonder Girl is learning ‘chair’ and ‘door’ , why not ‘lipstick’ and ‘pretty’. I think her age is extremely impressionable and completely object to this toy.
Haha, looks like it 😉
Carolin, if it’s just a toy to explore then why does it have to be so gendered? It sends an early message that equates femininity with a certain attention to physical appearance. Lipstick is not just pretty. The point is to accentuate the lips in a way that is sensual – sexy, even.
You can say that we wear makeup for ourselves but we’re not the ones who see it. It has a lot to do with caring about how other people view us. That’s a concept for grown ups to handle. Children and babies are naturally naive of that kind of thing and should stay that way as long as possible.
It may seem a little thing but these little things build up to create a culture in which the way women are viewed by themselves and others is restrictive.
Good post, Ella.
Thanks Adele , so brilliantly put so glad to have your perspective here.
But is femininity always a bad thing? I’m not saying that girls should only play with doll and mirrors etc, not at all, but I honestly don’t see anything wrong in this. I’d happily let Amy play it, because I know she also plays with cars and Lego and lots of other toys that aren’t gender-specific. I played with pink toys and think I have turned out quite well in terms of being an emancipated and independent women 😉
I normally love Fisher Price stuff, but have to agree that this is totally wrong. There is a huge difference between playing with mummy’s things when they aree older and starting with this stuff at 6 months. The Play & Learn handbag is similar, I think, although I have only glanced at it in shops.
We tell our daughters that they are beautiful several tiems a day, because we want them to have high self-esteem. We aalso tell them they are clever and funny etc, this toy won’t be countering that, and will be giving the impression that beauty needs to be bought with the right make up and other products. Totally wrong!
I spent many years wasting money on all the appearance stuff because I thought it mattered, only to finally meet the perfect man for me who couldn’t care less about any of it, and this has thankfully released me from the pressures that come with societal notions of beauty too.
Totally wrong to be giving this ‘pretty pretty’ message to our children, but unfortunatelt Fisher Price aren’t the only ones doing it. Many other companies, the media, and society as a whole do the same. Maybe one day people will realise that none of this stuff actually matters, but it seems a long way off!
Thanks for drawing our attention to it,interesting post, L.
Thanks , again a brilliantly put perspective on this and I’m not really a huge fan of any of the pink range from fisherprice but this one just took the theme too far for me. So glad you have found someone who loves you and doesn’t buy into this stuff , you really are blessed.
I am, thank you.
Just re-read my reply and seen the shocking typos – dodgy phone keypad, soz!
Ella, have you written to Fisher Price?
No not yet, I wanted to gauge general opinion with the post. Sadly opinion is mixed but I’m not sure whether people are getting that I am not talking about a play make up set for an older child but a toy marketed at six months plus. Going to amend the post and see what happens and if I get enough of a response I will write to them.
I am surprised that the reaction to your post has been so mixed, you should definitely write to them – feel free to add my signature too, L.
Thanks, I am suprised too, but I guess it’s different strokes for different folks, it does make me a little sad though. I will be emailing Fisherprice over the weekend,thanks for your support.
Totally with you on this – it is deeply shocking, there is a HUGE difference between a 6 month old playing with this and a three year old. Basic development psychology will tell you that stuff that happens pre-language goes into the sub-concious, it beomes the structure on which other learning is hung – and there is no way in hell if I had a daughter I would want her having these kind of ideas programmed into her sub-concious to shape the rest of her growing understanding of the world. At age 3, a lot of that structure is in place and so playing with make up and dress up at that age is then about exploring role play within that secure base, which is just an ordinary part of growing up. I also don’t think Fisher Price are naive enough not to know that, which is what I think is so shocking about it.
Yes , yes and yes , thank you !
Brilliant reply! Get that in the letter Ella!
I have found this whole discussion extremely interesting and it definitely raises many questions about our views on the feminine versus feminism question. I believe we can have both, but as Mothers we must be concious of the sublimnal messages with regard to gender that our daughters and sons are exposed from birth. I feel blessed to have reaped the rewards of equality and choice that my great grandmothers, grandmothers and mother fought for and we continue this fight on a daily basis. Yes I also ‘played dress up’ and now I still enjoy ‘looking good’ but I was also told I was clever, strong and could do anything from a very young age. Some girls do not have this foundation and grow up thinking their sole worth is in their looks. Because this toy is aimed at such a young age, which is the main point Ella is making, it is Very wrong on so many levels and Fisher Price should be ashamed.
Yes I don’t have any issue with women wanting to look pretty, or young girls playing dress up. I wouldn’t even say that I am a feminist, just a mother who doesn’t want her daughter exposed to such superficial nonsense at the tender age of 15 months. Thanks for your comment.
Here here. THank-you Sue for putting into words exactly how I feel about the matter.
I do not like the idea behind this product and I have no idea who would even entertain buying this for a child. What’s next? Condoms in Peppa Pig wrappers, toddler platform heels, porno paint by numbers and vodka sippy cups? Unfortunately, marketing and the media is driven by society. So this type of product is a direct reflection of our society. Sad really. Rant over.
Thanks for your input.
Totally agree with the post. Playing with make up is only really something you do as you reach age 3/4 and then its more about trying to mimic what you see your mum do in the mirror than anything else!
i find it totally irresponsible of Fisher Price – a well know and worldwide toy manufacturer – to create a toy like this for babies essentially. I dont agree with young girls wearing make up anyway, but to state that the toy is suitable from 6 months is just in bad taste i feel. They are clearly giving the age guide from a choking hazzard point of view i guess.
What i detest more than anything about it Ella from your description, as I haven’t had the ‘pleasure’ of seeing this in real life yet, is the fact that it tells the owner she is pretty!!! as you say this is awarded to the owner after she applied make up. wrong wrong wrong!!
I dont have such a problem with a three years plus child using it because i guess it could be seen as role playing and copying what mummy does (like a mini me ironing board, vacumn cleaner etc..), but i still detest the fact that the mirror says ‘you look pretty’ however old the chid is. and why not include a hairbrush or some pretend jewellery instead of lipstick?
its just a sad reflection of the world we live in – kids seem to grow up too quickly and girls in particular feel pressure to look pretty, be thin etc… and this toy is not helping. *sighs* but i expect it will fly off the shelves come christmas xx
Thanks Jenny. I don’t actually even think the toy being suitable safety wise is a particularly strong argument as it really is a very babyish/ young toddlers toy. A three year old girl wouldn’t want to play with it as it would be too young for them.
I agree that role play is normal and fun for older children but yes even then lets ditch the lipstick possibly.
Thanks for your comment.