Walk down any store’s toy aisle targeting girls, and it’s easy to see why many women fall victim to body image issues and fairytale delusions. For parents with girls not interested in the traditional “girl” toys—or moms and dads trying to broaden their horizons—shopping for play things can be an incredibly frustrating experience. Even Lego’s attempt at a girl’s line portrays ladies as people who only like to shop, go to the beach and spend an inordinate amount of time with animals, while the boys get to go on adventures, work and save people, as recently pointed out by a very astute 7-year-old.
Recently, a Pittsburgh artist name Nickolay Lamm crowd-funded the development of a doll being described as an “anti-Barbie.” The Lammily is said to be more lifelike than her predecessors, with a shorter, broader figure and a thicker neck. (She’s also a fitness enthusiast fond of sportswear.) While fans can pre-order the doll online, it won’t actually be available until November 2014. In the meantime, girls who like to play outside the box should consider these options.
Created by engineer Debbie Sterling to rectify the male-female imbalance in her field, Goldie Blox is a construction toy designed specifically with girls in mind. The sets involve “narrative-based building,” using a problem-solving story to help a character build a machine. (This is in contrast to the step-by-step guides found in traditional construction sets.) GoldieBlox are designed for ages 4-9, and retail from $19.99 to $29.99.
For the girl who wants to build her dollhouse before she plays with it, there’s Roominate. Created by female engineers Alice Brooks and Bettina Chen, the construction toy allows kids to design, build and electrify their own structure and furniture, then play with it once its done. Recommended for ages 6 and up, kits range from $29.99 to $49.99.
Go! Go! Sports Dolls
Sporty girls who enjoy playing with dolls have found their match in Go! Go! Sports Dolls. Currently there are 14 “girls,” soft dolls that have their own story and attached to specific sports (Maya, for example, is a gymnast). And all dolls are into healthy eating and living, and are also multi-cultural. You can also feel good about buying the dolls because the company donates some of the profits of their sales to organizations that promote healthy lifestyle and physical activities among girls. The dolls are designed for ages 3-12 and retail for about $25.
Rachel to the Rescue
Old-school paper dolls can still entertain modern kids for hours on end, so why not buy them ones that demonstrate the myriad careers open to them when they grow up. Ok, ok. It sounds a little lame. But these are cool jobs most kids fall in love, like a fire fighter, police office or EMT. Designed for ages 3 to 6, the book retails for about $1.35. Rachel to the Rescue isn’t the only empowering paper doll book on A Mighty Girl, an online toy store dedicated to “smart, confident & courageous girls.” I’m personally a little torn between the Michelle Obama and Friday Kahlo ones. (The store as a whole is really cool and worth a visit.)
Female archers have become a pop culture phenomenon thanks to Disney’s first tomboy princess, Merida from the movie Brave, and, of course, the Hunger Games’ Katniss Everdeen. Capitalizing on the trend, Nerf launched a foam dart archery line just for girls. (Some parents may find the premise too violent for their kid—which I totally get.) The line, with bow, crossbow and other pink and purple designs that shoot foam darts, has become a hit with active-adventure girls (and boys). They retail for around $19 to $29 and are designed for ages 8 and up.