Happy Meal Barbie promises girls: When you grow up, you too can be skinny and blonde

Check out McDonald’s new Happy Meal box which I read about on Phd in parenting. It features Mattel’s Barbie I Can Be with 4 different Barbie variations in doctor/veterinarian, school teacher, model and globe-trotter.

These career Barbies are so stupid. The last thing you notice from the picture is what profession they are supposedly involved in, especially if you’re an illiterate kid. What you do see is flowing blonde hair, blue eyes, and a skinny body. If you want to teach kids to DO something, give them a toy that does stuff. I recently listened to a panel of women architects talk about the newly released Architect Barbie. Those professionals didn’t like the doll, telling the audience that if they want their kids to grow up to be architects buy them blocks and Legos. So much for Legos which has recently soared to new heights with its sexist marketing, but blocks are still a good option.

What do you get if you’re a boy  with your Happy Meal? Oh, Hot Wheels.

“Get ready for the release of January’s McDonald’s Happy Meal toys sets one geared to little boys and one for little girls. Team Hot Wheels set has 8 different types of vehicles from mini monster wheels to race cars.”

This makes me so sad about my two-year old daughter who loves cars right now. But I know, very soon, with all this marketing, she’ll start to go for the Barbies if I’m not super counteractive with this relentless gender marketing. UGH. One more reason not to go to McDonalds. Wow, so much money money and effort by huge companies doing their best to stereotype little kids.

What’s your Smurf name?

On The Society Pages, Phillip Cohen writes about his McDonald’s experience and being asked, before receiving the Happy Meal, if the child who is eating it is a boy or girl.

“I’m told by the Happy Meal box that ‘Smurfs are named after their individual talents: there’s Farmer, Painter and Baker… Know your talent and find your Smurf name!’…I wondered what Smurfette’s individual talent’ was that got her – the only female Smurf- named ‘Smurfette.'”

(You should visit Cohen’s site, he includes a great table about the lack of women in power positions in the film industry.)

Both of Cohen’s girls chose boy Smurfs. So maybe there’s a positive side to a blatantly sexist Hollywood blockbuster colliding with a blatantly sexist food chain policy: the male privilege becomes so exposed its laughable. What if McDonald’s, after the Smurf experience, decides to change its sexist policy? Forevermore, instead of the servers asking if the customer is a boy or a girl, now they want to know: what talent would you most like to have? What skill would you most like to master? What character would you like to write a story about?

In five minutes, my 5 year old daughter came up with six girl Smurfs: Flyer (she has wings); Magician (she holds a wand); Sky or Weather (she makes rainbows & rain, the sun and moon rise and set, and sunset and sunrise); Singer (she holds a microphone) and Motorcycle (rides a motorcycle.) My eight year old daughter adds: Zombie (covered in mummy bands and blood); Living Dead (skeleton); Fairytale (she jumps into books) and Superhero (wears a cape); X-Ray (can look through walls) Library (holds a library card, shares her library with all the Smurfs, most popular Smurf); Guilty (always lies, holds pen and paper to write down lies so she can remember them) Sporty (holds soccer ball).

My Smurf name, according to my husband: Mouthy.

(Read my earlier Smurf/ McDonald’s post here: Free order of sexism with that happy Meal?