American Girl Could Make Even More Billions If We'd Stop Being So Freakin' Confused About Gender Roles

It was only a week after his birthday this summer when I realized I had gotten Pip the absolute wrong present.

Bunny is so easy to shop for - clothes, craft kits, doll accessories, cute pjs, shiny things, sparkly things....

Pip is tougher.  He'll ask for something but you just KNOW he'll only play with it for one day.  Then he'll either break it or abandon it.  And so it went this year, as it always does, that each toy in turn was played with for about 30 minutes max - never to see the light of day again.

We took a little road trip a week later - me, Pip, Bunny, and Saige (Bunny's American Girl doll).  As per usual, at some point along the way, Pip reached over between the booster seats and lifted Saige into his lap.  Bunny squealed in protest.  I explained, as I had several times before, "He just wants to hold her, Bunny.  He likes her."

It took me two or three times of repeating this on that drive before the light bulb clicked on in my head.  Jeez!  Have I been programmed or what?!

Pip wants a doll.


So, I asked him, "Would you like a doll like that, Buddy?"

"Yes!" said Pip.  "I want an American Boy!"

I told him that they don't make American Boy dolls and Bunny, who reads the American Girl catalogue cover to cover as if it is great literature, explained that they do, in fact, make boys but they are younger and smaller.  They come as twins and are babies.

"I don't want a baby.  I want a boy."

"Alright." I said.  "We'll find one.  As soon as I can get to a computer, we'll find a boy doll who is not a baby."

Yeah.  Easier said than done.

Bunny and I got on the computer at her aunt's house and began our search.  We found dolls called My Twinn that have boys and girls.  They are also hideous (and, ps, why the extra "n" huh?  What does that MEAN?!)  While scrolling through the website, Bunny and I occasionally yelped with horror as a new image would appear.

"We're not trying to give him nightmares, right?" asked Bunny.

We moved on.

I found a thread from an old parenting forum about this same topic.  There were links to some dolls but the links were dead.  The thread was helpful, though, because I recognized that I was not alone in my search.  Universally, the moms reported boys who wanted boy dolls that were not babies who came with clothing so that their outfits could be changed.  There are a gazillion companies marketing a gazillion toys.  Why is this so hard to find?!

I did find two options.  I found one lone boy doll on the Walmart webite (because when I think "forward thinking", I think WALMART).  I showed that one to Pip and he was perfectly happy with it.  He told Bunny that Santa would bring him that boy for Christmas.  He has told her the same several times since.

Just today, I found another option.  Rowdie Boy dolls on a very DIY-looking website.  It looks like the dolls have to be shipped in from some other country and they are expensive (though not quite as expensive as American Girls).  They are pretty cute and there are a few clothing options as well.

Pip will get his doll this Christmas if he still wants one by December.

I imagine his desire to play with the boy will be short-lived, though, because he'll be told it isn't what boys do.  He's going into first grade - he'll be trafficking with bigger boys.  I worry they'll ridicule it out of him pretty quickly.

Just like he doesn't want his fingernails painted anymore.  He used to like to have them painted red or silver sometimes - because then they shot lazers.  But I think he was teased about it.

We have had several conversations these past couple weeks about the color pink.  It used to be Pip's favorite color.  Now he has switched to orange.  He has asked me if it's OK to like pink.

I said, "There's no such thing as a boy color or a girl color.  It's a COLOR. I mean, how silly to think there are colors boys can't like.  Pink is an awesome color.  It is bright and happy and it's also part of every sunset I've ever seen.  We can all love pink."

But he'd be teased if he wore pink to school.

A few months ago, we went to Claire's - you know, the costume jewelry store?  Bunny found a set of necklaces - each with a charm shaped like half a heart.  One said "big sister" and the other said "lil sister." Bunny bought a set so that she could wear the big sister one and she could give the other one to her stepsister.  Pip brought a set to me and said he wanted the necklaces, too.  I asked why and he said "Because I have a big sister and a little sister and I can wear these necklaces to show I love them."

Well, jeez.  That's the sweetest thing ever so then I had to buy them for him.  The next day, however, when he wanted to wear them to school, I panicked a little.  I didn't think he'd catch any crap from the kindergarten boys but he had before-school care first with a bunch of big boys.  I told him that he should wear them tucked into his shirt so they didn't get caught on anything while he played.  I just imagined that he would be ridiculed and what started out as a very sweet and loving gesture would end up being a source of pain.

Pip has one of the kindest hearts of anyone I know.  A mom came up to me at the beach the other day and said, "I like it when Pip plays with my son because he seems to have an emotional maturity beyond his years.  He compliments my son and he empathizes in a way my son can't seem to do yet and I think he's a good influence."

He wants to nurture a doll.  He picks up Bunny's doll and he hugs her.  He cradles her and he smoothes her hair.  He wants to care for something outside of himself which is something we encourage little girls to do from the moment they can hold a toy.

We want men in our lives who care for their wives and their children and their loved ones and their society with empathy and understanding but we are hard-pressed to allow them to play those roles as children.  How unfair.  How short-sighted.

American Girl seems to be willing and able to make almost any product imaginable if their product research crew thinks they can make money off of it.  You can get girl dolls of any skin, hair, or eye color.  She can be in a wheel chair or on crutches.  She can have a horse, a dog, or a boat.  Certainly, there is no doubt in my mind that they have researched the financial viability of a boy doll - with his own wardrobe and his own story book - and they have found it not to be financially viable.  If they could make money on it, yáll, they totally would.

No, this is our downfall, really.  Not theirs.

But I can promise you that Pip is gonna by-God get that doll.  And if I have to write that doll a story and commission my sister to sew him some clothing changes, I'm gonna do that, too.

It's just a little sad to me that I have to.


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