I have always tried to give Vivian choices. I don't like her to feel like she "has" to like anything, or that there are toys that she shouldn't play with because she's a girl. That doesn't mean that I keep her away from things though - I think there are positives to be found in most toys. Monster High and Disney Princesses might have their faults, but there are good aspects too. And if Vivian likes those things and wants those things, I'm not going to stand in her way. She is just a kid, after all. I do, however, like to sprinkle in some toys that will show her things in a different way, or that give her a different perspective.
With Vivian's birthday and Christmas fast approaching, I thought I would do a little roundup of some of the more feminist-leaning toys that I'm looking at for Vivian.
I love Playmobil toys. I think they do a great job of providing a variety of gender-neutral options. Sure, they have the princess fairy castle fantasy sets too, but there are also the zoo sets, dinosaur sets, hospitals, vet clinics, horse farms, hotels - lots of great options! That's why I was so disappointed when Vivian and I received our Playmobil catalog and it featured this:
Playmobil claims that they were featuring the fact that the figures now have interchangeable clothes, and not that the girls'dream come true is the shopping centre. I still feel like interchangeable clothes shouldn't be a selling feature to girls though - last time I checked, boys have to change their clothes too.
For Vivian I'm looking at things like this...
Vivian is really into both horses and pandas right now. I don't really know where the panda thing came in, but she's into them. I love Playmobil sets like this - and Vivian loves them too. She'll spend long periods of time setting everything up and creating little stories for the animals.
One new toy that's really caused a stir and has come under a bit of fire is the new GoldieBlox action figure. I really admire what GoldieBlox is trying to do, and have bought Vivian a couple of their sets for Christmas and am planning getting her the action figure. While there is some controversy over the fact that the doll is still a slim, white, blonde doll I think it's a step in the right direction. There's also controversy that by labelling this an action figure for girls, it immediately deems that all other action figures are not for girls. Sorry, Vivian loves her Iron Man just as much as her other dolls. I do, however, like that she does something (you can build her a zipline) and I like that she has a child's body, similar to the Lottie Dolls that I've written about before.
As I said, Vivian is pretty into horses right now. This is what I'm anticipating Santa bringing as her big gift this year - the Our Generation Saddle Up Stable. While is is all pretty pink and gendered, I like that horse toys focus on her taking care of something else rather than just brushing the hair of a doll.
I came across these architecture stamps on the A Mighty Girl website, which is a great resource for books and toy ideas. What a fun way to encourage kids to think about things in a creative way!
I've been getting Vivian a lot of books lately (damn you, book orders!) so I definitely want to put a few more under the Christmas tree! This children's book written by ballerina Misty Copeland is supposed to be wonderful for young girls.
And I love sneaking in any comic book heroes when I can!
I love this toy, but I think it might be a little old for Vivian and may be better next year. Roominate allows kids to build their own dollhouse and then wire it with real working lights and fans. I've shown Vivian pictures, and she seems into it, but I think it might be a little complex yet.
I've been trying to get Vivian as many female superhero toys as I can. It's proven to be quite the complicated task. Many superhero action figures are geared to adults so they're often too pricey to give to a kid for a toy, and their proportions are often a little too extreme for a 4 year old. So far I've found her a Black Widow and Wasp, and hope to get a Wonder Woman, Batgirl, and Supergirl as well. She loves the Funko Pop! series, so they might be a good option as well!
I have kind of held back on LEGO with Vivian, only because I was worried that she would get frustrated with more complicated sets if I started her too early. I found a great deal on this Merida set a couple of months ago, so I tucked it away for Christmas. She loves Merida, as do I. Hopefully we'll both have fun putting this set together!
Like I said, there will still be lots of more "traditional" girl toys under the tree as well. And that's okay. She's allowed to like Barbie and Equestria Girls and all those other things. It's just up to her parents to try and sneak in a little variety as well!
Let me know if you have some other suggestions!