Peer bullying on the rise when preschool girls wear ‘boy’ shoes

Yesterday, I posted this video of my 4 year old daughter talking about getting bullied at preschool for wearing ‘boy’ shoes.

I’ve gotten so many comments on Reel Girl’s Facebook page about kids being bullied by their peers when they step out of these gender norms that surround them like shrink rap, I’ve started asking parents if they would video their children telling their stories. Meanwhile, I Googled ‘bullied for wearing boy shoes’ and found some stuff that is making me cringe and want to scream, so I’m going to blog about it instead.

From Coupon Cilpinista:

Yesterday my 4 year old wore her waterproof slip-on shoes for boy or girl to school (they are black Timberland moccasins) and she told me this morning, “The girls would not play with me yesterdays because they said I was wearing boys shoes, can you please put sparkly shoes on me ???”

I was in shock. Are you serious? Is this something I should address with the school??? BULLYING starting THIS YOUNG??? I don’t know what to think– my daughter loves those shoes and her sparkly shoes are not comfortable or for winter weather but she wants to wear them to appease the bullies in her classroom.

What would you do?????

 

Here’s some advice she got from 8 different fans of hers, without irony, each confirmed with multiple likes:

Cover them in glitter. Change the shoelaces to a girlie style.

 

Bedazzle her moccasins

 

Add something to moccasins to make it more “girly”

 

This is so sad – I’d talk to the teacher for sure. I also like the ideas of “girling up” her boots with shoe laces, etc. Good luck CouponClipinista

 

put sparkles on the shoes…that should do it.

 

Yep. I would bedazzel the crap out of em. I can tell you from experience, the school wont do anything!!

 

I agree. Bedazzle them. glue on a few rhinestones or a bow.

 

Bedazzle her shoes :o )

 

Note to parents: Gender stereotyping CAUSES bullying. Bedazzling shoes? Not a solution here. What is that teaching your kid? To do whatever the bullies say to do. And what is it teaching the other kids? Keep bullying. Is that the lesson we want to be teaching here? I honestly don’t even think these 4 year olds know they are bullying, because not enough parents and teachers are telling them that. I think these kids believe that they are stating a fact.

Some parents tell Coupon Clipinista similar stories:

At 4 my daughter LOVED Spiderman. There was no talking her out of getting the Spiderman tennis shoes. She wore them to school and was told they were “boy shoes” (They were.) When she came home telling me about it, I told her, “do you like them?” “yes.” I told her to tell the kids when they said that again that anyone can wear Spiderman shoes. She had the same situation about the same age about wearing the color blue (still her favorite color 6 years later.) Her PreK4 classmates told her blue was for boys. We talked again and I told her that she can wear ant color she wants. And if the other kids don’t like it, too bad for them…they are going to miss out on wearing lots of cool colors. She went to school confidently and told them you can wear whatever color if you are a boy or a girl. I liked the idea of teaching her to be confident about her ideas even if they were not always “girly”

 

Another mom/ teacher:

As a teacher, sad to say, yes, bullying starts this young. My son, at 4 loved his pink t-shirt. Wore it to preschool once, and will not wear it out of the house (so sad) due to peer’s comments – at 4!!!! Yes, speak to the teacher, so he/she knows what is going on in their classroom and can address it. Then talk to you daughter. Don’t let her give in to peers. Point out how to be an individual and to take pride in that. When all is said and done, I woud let her wear the shoes of her choice. Unfortunately, it will be the choice peers, unless she is strong and willing to be her own person.

 

Apparently, there was a whole controversy around this post:

Yesterday my mom posted a picture on Facebook of my 5-year-old brother … wearing a pair of shoes he picked out for his first day of preschool. She explained to him in the store that they were really made for girls. [The boy] then told her that he didn’t care and that ‘ninjas can wear pink shoes too.’

However, my mom received about 20 comments on the photo from various family members saying how ‘wrong’ it is and how ‘things like this will affect him socially’ and, put most eloquently by my great aunt, ‘that sh*t will turn him gay.’

 

From that story come links about “gender non-conforming camp.” Seriously? We’re talking about shoes here. Shoes. Preschoolers. Bullying epidemic. The solution is not sending the kids off to some camp. The solution is to stop buying into the gender segregated marketing that is so aggressively targeted at kids and parents from multinational companies.

A Reel Girl Facebook fan posted a great link about the Miller Mix story: 

My daughter, fresh from day one of a much-loved and progressive preschool, announces her sporty blue Toy Story sneakers — once adored — are for boys
and no one at her school likes girls who wear boys’ shoes.

 

Finally, a great solution posted from Melissa Wardy of Pigtail Pals: A Letter to Bella and Other Girls with Blue Shoes.

I heard from your mom that someone at school said your shoes were for boys. Maybe because they were blue or maybe because Buzz Lightyear was on them. At our house, we say, “Colors are for everyone.” Sometimes people get mixed up about that because they don’t think about it very hard. That makes me feel frustrated. All you have to do is look around the world and know that colors are for everyone.

But Bella, isn’t that silly! How could your blue Buzz Lightyear shoes be for boys if colors are for everyone and Buzz Lightyear is from a movie made for all kids and you are a girl standing in those shoes! I think people get confused about that, because they think something is only for boys because they never took the time to consider girls. I think people should consider girls.

Since you are four years old, you know a lot of stuff, and you know that girls can like or do anything boys can. And boys can like or do anything girls can. Things are kind of silly right now because grown ups keep getting in the way of kids, and some grown ups who are in charge of the companies that make stuff for kids like toys and clothes, they don’t have good imaginations like you and I do. These grown ups try to fit kids into little boxes that are labeled “Boy” or “Girl”, and then they only let certain colors or ideas into each box. They do that because it makes it easier for them to sell their stuff. Since boys and girls don’t grow in boxes, you can see how really goofy this is. But I have to be honest with you, there are a lot of grown ups who don’t question these pink and blue boxes, and then they teach that thinking to their kids, and then their kids lose their imaginations.

I couldn’t agree more. Here’s an ad I saw in a window of a Stride Rite in the neighborhood where my kids go to school. I also speak about one of the times my daughter was teased for her shoes.

striderite

Here’s me on Fox and Friends talking about the gender stereotyping in this ad and what kinds of damaging messages that’s sending to kids. I also speak about one of the times my daughter was teased.

Here’s my letter to Stride Rite Until you stop gender stereotyping, we’re through.

Once again: What happened to my daughter is not an exception. This kind of bullying is happening to kids in preschools all over America. It’s on the rise, because gender stereotyping kids is on the rise. Check out these pictures of kids toys/ clothing from the Seventies and now. What are we doing to stop this? Oh, that’s right, bedazzling.

In Europe, they’re trying something else. Due to a campaign in Europe by Let Toys Be Toys For Girls and Boys, stores in including Toys R Us, stopped segregating products by gender, and instead, are organizing them by type. Here’s what Toys Will Be Toys reported on Toys R Us.

 

The retailer today confirmed that they would draw up a set of principles for in-store signage meaning that, in the long-term, explicit references to gender will be removed and images will show boys and girls enjoying the same toys. They promised to start by looking at the way toys are represented in their upcoming Christmas catalogue.

 

But what are we doing in America? Been to a Toys R Us lately? Or a Target? Or a Stride Rite?

 A Mighty Girl has started a similar petition in the U.S. to the Let Toys Be Toys petition in Europe, hoping to stop stores here from selling kids gender segregation. Please sign. Don’t be a passive bystander. Do something to stop the bullying and these limits placed on our children.

If your kids have stories about being bullied for not conforming to these caricature gender stereotypes, please share them. I’d love to see the videos of your kids telling their stories if you would like to post them here.

 

4 yr old girl bullied for wearing ‘boy’ shoes

Here’s my 4 year old daughter talking about how kids at preschool teased her for wearing “boy” shoes. A group of them wouldn’t let her enter the “train hole,” a play structure shaped like a train, because she was wearing her Star Wars shoes.

After my daughter told me about the teasing, which happened more than once, I spoke to her teacher who then talked with the kids about how anyone can wear any kind of shoe they like.

The bullying that happened to my daughter occurs in schools every day, and we all need to be doing more to stop it. Instead, we’re exacerbating it by buying into gender marketing sold to us by multi-national media companies and chain stores.

A couple of years ago, there was a story about a first grader who brought her Star Wars lunch box to school, and she was teased. That story got some media attention, but it seems like too many people think that incident was some kind of anomaly, have forgotten about it, or still haven’t realized how damaging and limiting it is for kids when we gender stereotype them.

Whenever I blog or speak about gender segregating kids, I get the argument that it’s just “natural,” and if your kid happens to be the rare exception, she can “choose” another toy or T shirt if she wants. (Here I am recently responding to those arguments on Fox News but they are all over this blog as well.) How many kids have the courage to be the “exception?” And why has straying from pink or princess become an exception? How long until my daughter starts “choosing” the shoes that she’s supposed to wear and like, shoes that she doesn’t get teased for wearing? I’m stating what should be obvious here: When one type of product is aggressively marketed to boys, and another type to girls kids don’t have a choice.

Due to a campaign in Europe by Let Toys Be Toys For Girls and Boys, stores in Europe including Toys R us, stopped segregating products by gender, and instead, are organizing them by type. Here’s what Toys Will Be Toys reported on Toys R Us.

The retailer today confirmed that they would draw up a set of principles for in-store signage meaning that, in the long-term, explicit references to gender will be removed and images will show boys and girls enjoying the same toys. They promised to start by looking at the way toys are represented in their upcoming Christmas catalogue.

This is great news for Europe, but go to any Target or Stride Rite in America, and you’ll see how far this country lags behind. Pinkwashed sections of stores marked for girls offer Barbies, dolls, and anything pink, princessy, or sparkly while areas marked for boys sell products in primary colors that have something to do with cars or superheroes. A U.S. organization called A Mighty Girl has started a similar petition in the U.S. to the Let Toys Be Toys petition in Europe, hoping to stop stores here from selling kids gender segregation.

Mass marketing by gender is changing how we see each other and the world around us. On the Huffington Post, Lori Day writes:

I was talking to a teacher friend recently who said that 10 or 15 years ago, if she asked her Kindergarten class what their favorite colors were, she heard many different answers. Now, she still hears the boys name many different colors, but the girls almost all say pink…

 

There are so many colors in the rainbow. Kids should get exposed to all of them. Please sign A Mighty Girl’s petition.

Calling it out: Backwards, sexist propaganda of 2013

Let Toys Be Toys for Girls and Boys posted this image on its Facebook page:

backwards

This product was seen at the John Lewis store in High Wycombe. Not familiar with this UK institution, I looked it up to find it has almost 650,00 likes.

I imagine the day this product is on display in a museum, an artifact. People will look at it, baffled, not even understanding. Students will study how backwards the world was in 2013, wondering how and why our culture allowed and accepted sexism as if it were okay or funny or normal. Can you imagine a game showing a Caucasian brain battling an African brain along with a bunch of stereotyped categories?

Today, Salon posts: On Facebook, hating a religious or ethnic minority gets you banned, but hating half of humanity gets you Likes.” Women, Action, and Media wrote an open letter to Facebook detailing how pics of breastfeeding women get banned when images of rape don’t.

The latest global estimate from the United Nations Say No to Violence Campaign is that the percentage of women and girls who have experienced violence in their lifetimes is now up to an unbearable 70%. In a world in which this many girls and women will be raped or beaten in her lifetime, allowing content about raping and beating women to be shared, boasted and joked about contributes to the normalisation of domestic and sexual violence, creates an atmosphere in which perpetrators are more likely to believe they will go unpunished, and communicates to victims that they will not be taken seriously if they report.

Here’s an ex-girlfriend shooting target seen at an NRA convention this Spring.

exgirlfriend

Violence against women is epidemic. A first step to abuse is always dehumanizing the victim. Propaganda, in the form of images and narratives, effectively dehumanizes on a mass scale. Here’s some propaganda marketed to kids:

Images/ narratives of Jews circa 1938

nazibook

 

Africans circa 1931

tin_tin_in_congo11

 

Females circa 2013

 

bratzwallpaper-source_4cj

 

It’s easy to look back on history and wonder: How did people ever put up with that? I’d never buy into it. But what are you participating in right now that is completely accepted, not to mention celebrated, by our culture?

meridamakeover

Propaganda works in steps and stages. The product marketed may not be as extreme as a bloody, scantily clad woman, but it’s likely to be a sexualized female, one that is, remarkably, often advertised to kids.

So tell John Lewis to stop selling sexism or join Women, Action, and Media’s campaign and to get Facebook sponsors to stop promoting violence against women or post on Target’s site that you’re not buying its new doll. Please do something for your kids. Take action to end everyday sexism because it numbs all of us to the mass objectification of women.

 

 

Sexist Monster High dolls win ‘best toy for girls’ in Toy Industry Awards

When I saw this post from Let Toys Be Toys For Girls and Boys, my eyes bulged out of my head:

Best Boy and Girl Toy winners at the Toy Industry Awards this week. What’s your thoughts?

monsterhigh

There is a “boy” toy and a “girl” toy award? The best “boy” toy is shown in action, shooting a web; he is a superhero who saves the world. The best “girl “toy is a possy of hair, make-up, shoes and bags; the dolls pose as if someone is taking their picture.

Here were my thoughts: This can’t be right. Cynical, jaded blogger that I am, I still don’t believe that the Toy Industry Awards would be so publicly, blatantly, offensively sexist. These are children we are talking about, after all. Why would anyone segregate and stereotype kids in this way?

So I Googled “Toy Industry Awards 2012.” I am sad to report Let Toys be Toys is absolutely correct. From Toy News:

The 2012 Toy Industry Awards winners have been revealed. The awards ceremony took place at London Olympia’s West Hall last night, organised by the British Toy & Hobby Association and the Toy Retailers Association…Girls’ Toy of the Year Monster High Ghouls Rule Doll Assortment, Mattel Boys’ Toy of the Year Web Shooting Spider-Man, Hasbro

 

Gross.