This post and one or two more are going to be focused on stereotyping through the medium of toys. The theme of this post is the Beauty Corner in the Hamleys, the toy shop at Dundrum. Note the words toy shop. The Beauty Corner contains toys, yes, but it also sells hair accessories, nail polish, hand cream and hair brushes. A hair brush is not a toy, hair clips aren’t toys either and yet children are being encouraged to buy them or ask for them.
The toys that can be found in this section of the shop are very limited. There is an entire section filled with shelves of Barbies and other dolls. A lot of them are wearing dresses and this is not a realistic interpretation of 21st century girls. Here we come up against our old enemy (when attached to girls), pink. The colour scheme of the entire section is pink.
The next problem is that of the dressing-up costumes. There is a whole wall displaying only net tutu style princess and fairy costumes. And just for the record, I’m not condemning these costumes, I owned two such dresses when I was younger and got no end of pleasure out of wearing them. But I really don’t think that there is any need for a whole wall of them. There are other dress-up costumes on offer but they are all extremely sexist. The pirate costume has a skirt in it and the girl advertising it in the picture manages to look extremely glamorous in it. There was a beautician outfit as well and a cowgirl who is also made up to look very attractive.
Another issue is that of the princess and fairy influence. A lot of the games, costumes, bags and other products in this section had images of princesses and fairies on them. Another very common theme is Hello Kitty and Hamleys stock so many Hello Kitty products that it commands several shelves all to itself.
The last issue that I will mention is the nail polish bar that has been set up at the entrance to the ‘girls’ section. There were two female members of staff running this bar when I was there. They were offering to paint the nails of or do glitter tattoos on any girls that came to the section. I heard one of them assuring the mother of a young girl who was having a glitter tattoo done that it was perfectly safe, good quality etc. That is not the issue, the issue is that girls are being forced into the realms of personal adornment from a very early age and in this they are often encouraged by their parents. This could potentially increase body image insecurity when they are older. It is up to us as the consumers to make the decision. If people do not buy these types of products and if there is no demand for them manufacturers will be forced to stop producing them. This will then no longer be an issue that could affect developing girls.