When I was 10 in October 1985, “Jem and the Holograms,” an animated half-hour program about an all-girl band, made its debut. I was all about it. Now, almost 30 years later, Jem and the Holograms are staging a comeback, via a new live-action movie, announced this March and set to premiere in 2016.
LEGOs are some of the most creative toys around for kids. When I was growing up, I loved mixing together sets and building whole worlds (including assembling a perfect replica of Jurassic Park whose quality I will defend to this day) and never saw them as a toy meant for either boys or girls.
But recently, LEGOs have come under fire for two reasons.
As a little girl, Samantha Knowles didn't stop to consider why most of her dolls—her American Girl dolls, her Cabbage Patch Kids, her Barbie dolls—were black like her. But black dolls were not common in her upstate New York hometown, whose population remains overwhelmingly white. So when Knowles was 8 years old, one of her friends innocently asked "Why do you have black dolls?" And she didn't know quite what to say.
But that question stuck with her, and in college, she started to consider how she would answer as an adult. Finally, as an undergraduate film student at Dartmouth, she connected with a small but passionate group of black doll enthusiasts who gather at black doll shows around the country, and for her senior honors thesis, Knowles, now 22, completed a documentary called "Why Do You Have Black Dolls?" to articulate the answer.
What the Brooklyn filmmaker didn't know was that her mother felt so strongly that her daughters, Samantha and Jillian, have dolls of their own race, that she would stand in line at stores or make special orders to make sure they got one of the few black versions. "My parents made sure to get us a lot of black dolls in a wide variety of hues and shapes," Samantha Knowles says. "We didn't have exclusively black dolls, but we had mostly black dolls. After I started working on the film, I had a lot of conversations with my mom, and she would say, 'Oh, you don't know what I had to go through to get some of those dolls!'"
Yup, that's right. The folks at the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood scoured the toy aisles and found (what they feel are) the top five most offensive toys, and will present the TOADY (Toys Oppressive And Destructive to Young children) Award to the one that takes home the (dis)honor of Worst Toy of the Year.
I'm not a fan of McDonald's for a variety of reasons, but beyond their tasty unhealthy food they are a perfect example of how marketing has changed over the years to further push gender stereotypes upon consumers.