by Holli Rubin, AnyBody/UK Endangered Bodies member
There's more to life than being a princess, right? Don’t we want our girls to know that? Don’t we want them to know that life is made up of a palette of more than just pink?
It has been a long time coming but today there are several websites working hard to show our girls there is much more to life than playing a princess. Having the choice of interesting and non-stereotyped books and toys is so refreshing, and so very necessary. Recently, we applauded Toward the Stars, but many other groundbreaking online initiatives also deserve our recognition and support.
Another standout platform is A Mighty Girl, an impressive repository of books, toys and clothing, all consciously chosen for promoting values of strength and equality. Their tag line (which I love) is:
“The world's largest collection of books, toys and movies for smart, confident, and courageous girls.”
The website is divided into the following sections: Books, Toys, Movies/TV, Music, Clothing, Best Of, Book Club and Character Collection. The Character Collection takes all of the characters from every section on A Mighty Girl and houses them together, making it easy for parents and kids to find their favourites. The characters range from empowered princesses such as Supergirl and Princess Leia to the strong and intelligent Dora the Explorer to historical figures such as Helen Keller and Anne Frank. Personally, I loved seeing the well-known French character Madeline completely transformed as she swapped her usual uniform of a vibrant blue coat and yellow hat to become a soccer star donning a team shirt, shorts, knee pads and socks: Go, Madeline, go!!
Since your typical princess does not spend much of her time doing DIY, the Toy section, containing over 2,000 empowering selections, offers toys like Connectagons, Gears and Blokus, which help foster a love of building, encourage exposure to science and improve spatial skills. They are gender neutral, and games that girls (and mothers of girls) tend not to reach for, but if they had the opportunity to play with, would likely enjoy. (I have two older boys and in the early days, we never had any ‘girly’ things around, so my daughter loved trains and cars because that’s what was available.)
Another interesting resource is called UltraViolet, an online non-sexist guide to shopping in the 21st century. It facilitates shopping by presenting a Gift Guide, broken down into four different age groups. While staying on the theme of developing girls’ enthusiasm for maths and science, I uncovered one of my favourite products on Ultraviolet: Roominate. It’s a kit of building pieces and circuit components that a child can use to design, build, wire and decorate her very own interactive room. Products such as this one help increase young girls' confidence and enthusiasm for maths, science and learning directly through fun hands-on play.
Yet another invaluable resource is Pigtail Pals and BallCap Buddies, the brainchild of Melissa Wardy, a mom and entrepreneur who was tired of the limited types of clothing available for children and wanted to see strong role models that would encourage and empower kids to make their own choices. The categories range from Full of Awesome Shop to Colors Are for Everyone Tees. PigTail Pals has also partnered up with another excellent online resource, New Moon Girls, selling “girl-centered art” in the New Moon Girls' Shop.
New Moon Girls is an ad-free supportive global community allowing girls (8 years old and up) the opportunity to express themselves creatively. It aims to help them explore the world conciously and teaches them to develop empathy and self-assurance. There is a fully-moderated online chat room, Luna's Chatterbox, which makes it a safe place for supportive learning and fun. In a high-tech society children can end up on many unsafe sites so it is great to know that New Moon exists. My favourite section is called Girl Caught, which encourages activism by asking girls to differentiate inappropriate adverts, which are circled in red, from the respectful and empowering adverts, which are circled in green. Comments on all the ads are made by the young readers themselves.
Two other online resources are HearthSong and the Golden Apple Learning Store. HearthSong is committed to helping parents choose playthings they’ll “feel good about giving”. Categories include Outdoor Active, Imaginative Play, Playful Apparel and Beyond Toys. The Golden Apple Learning Store offers a wide selection of low-tech and no-tech learning materials and toys which help to promote early brain development and early learning.
Last but not least is She Heroes, which “tells the stories of extraordinary women who are role models in diverse careers.” Additionally, this U.S.-based non-profit provides various resources for middle school-aged children and their parents that can be used to inspire future career paths for both girls and boys, as well as to foster and strengthen media literacy skills.
Are there any other girl-positive online initiatives you would add to this list? Let us know in the comment section below.
For additional information about empowering resources for kids, check out Pink Stinks, an award-winning UK-based "campaign that targets the products, media and marketing that prescribe heavily stereotyped and limiting roles to young girls."
Inspired by my daughter Scarlett I started making Space Pinafore Dresses and Dinosaur Skirts, and now sell all over the world to parents looking to escape the gender colour coded toys and clothes, princess culture or just a change from the negative stereotypes so prominent on the high street.
I want to promote colourful and fun clothes to girls and boys with no gender stereotypes or pink/blue options. Bestsellers including Construction playdresses and Space Cloaks
As a small family business we actively support Let Toys be Toys, Pinkstinks, No More page 3 and Child Eyes UK