Today, I got this comment on Reel Girl from Dr. Vanessa Paugh:
This is a little off topic, but it is about girls and food. I think you practically got a shout out on The Big Bang Theory last night. Raj, one of the male characters, complained about the lack of female cereal box characters. He said that he had done the research, listed about a dozen famous male characters and concluded that there are no female cereal box characters at all. He was dismissed by the other male characters in the scene, but at least it’s out there.
Go Raj! I am so happy this guy called out the lack of females in imaginary world on national TV. I think it’s fascinating he made this observation to an all male group who dissed him. I would love to see this episode.
Reel Girl has had several posts on the lack of female characters on cereal boxes. Food packaging is one more space where female characters get sidelined, stereotyped, or go missing all together. And once again, this is an imaginary world. So why is it sexist? Why do females, half of the kid population, go missing?
One of many endless examples of sexism from my cupboard: Cocoa Pebbles. On the front of the box, there’s Fred, waving at us. At the top of the box, you can see buddies, Fred and Barney, driving cars and having fun.
More fun for Fred and Barney can be found on the back on the box. There they are playing a racing game with their cars. A game you can access on your smart phone as well. How cool is that?
Where’s Wilma? Is she car racing? Is she in a game at all? No, silly. Women can’t drive! They’re not fast, they don’t compete, they don’t care about winning. Women are above all that boy stuff. Women care about “health.”
There’s Wilma, on the side of the box (could the term “marginalized” be any more clear?) hoping kids are getting enough Vitamin D.
Want to see another place where a female shows up on a cereal box?
She’s an actual person. She’s dieting. Her weight loss gave her “a sense of pride” that she’s never felt before.
(Check out this link where a guy posts nostalgically about his childhood cereal eating days and the greatest kids’s cereals of all time. Except for one box with three characters that includes one female, his list features 100% male characters.)
I will be buying Wheaties this year. Sam Gordon became the first female football player ever to be shown on a box.
Think about this: the celebration of Sam Gordon is a huge accomplishment, but why is it so hard to show gender equality in the imaginary world, a fantasy world that is supposed to inspire our children to imagine, create, and dream?