I’m not supposed to give my daughter girlie toys. According to the unwritten, but you’re supposed to know them, modern-day rules of parenting, parents of little girls are not supposed to encourage them to do typical “girlie” things like wear pink, pretend to be Princesses, and play with dolls with a stripper-worthy tit-to-waist ratio like Barbie or those whore’ish looking Bratz dolls I saw today at Toys R Us.
Instead, our daughters should play with gender-neutral toys in hopes they’ll grow up with a positive self image, see themselves as something beyond pretty and aspire to something more in life than having a stripper-worthy tit-to-waist ratio.
The problem, as most parents of girls quickly realize, is that little girls really like gender-specific toys. Self-image isn’t nearly as fun as styling your own Barbie’s hair.
Which leads us to Hello Kitty.
My two-year-old pink lover has shown an early obsession and passion for Ms. Kitty herself. In fact, when faced with a Hello Kitty image, my daughter nearly hyperventilates. This invariably leads to her running around the store, house or friend’s house for ten to thirty hours screaming, “Kitttttttteeeeeeee!” If there is such a thing as a toddler orgasm, she’s having one. I half expect my kid to say, “I’ll have what she’s having,” as if she’s in “When Harry Met Sally.”
So, we’ve gone full Kitty. We have Kitty cups, Kitty shirts, a Hello Kitty swim towel (with Kitty hood, natch), a Hello Kitty sweatsuit and will be receiving (it’s on backorder) a very special sequined Hello Kitty swimsuit.
But it wasn’t until today, in my house full of Kitty, that I realized that Hello Kitty doesn’t have a mouth. One of the most iconic little girl toys is a fucking mute, by design. Some toy manufacturer (is there a Mr. Sanrio?) sat in his office and looked at one Kitty mock-up after another and thought, “Something’s just not right.” And after months of contemplation, Mr. Toy Manufacturer realized that what was wrong with Hello Kitty was that she could talk. And so, Ms. Kitty lost her mouth. And, in turn, her voice.
And I just can’t quite move past it.
Honestly, I think most modern day parenting rules are bullshit. Parents are supposed to be obsessed with what our kids eat while encouraging them to be open-minded about food. Little girls shouldn’t like fairy costumes but should feel the burden of letting an entire gender down because they actually do. It’s okay if little boys want to crash into things and play “action,” but should fully expect teachers and parents to say, “Oh he’s just a boy” every time said boy asks to play Ninja. And parents of little girls should think twice before admitting they’ve 1) bought their daughter a Barbie and 2) played it with her.
But, at least Barbie gets to talk. Sure, Barbie’s probably talking about how she hasn’t eaten in days and how she’s worried one of her implants just burst, but at least she can talk. Hello Kitty is just a submissive little cat who, according to her bio (and yes she has a bio), likes “shiny things.”
To my daughter, it’s just a cute little cat with a bow in her hair. But to me, she’s everything I worked hard not to be. If there’s one quality I could give my own daughter, it would be the ability to speak up. I’ll take mouthy over mute anytime.
So if my daughter becomes a weight-obsessed teenager, you can blame me for buying her that Barbie. But if my daughter becomes a strong, opinionated grown-up, you can credit her. Hopefully, she’ll play with Hello Kitty without becoming Hello Kitty.
At least that’s what I’ll keep telling her.
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