The Globe and Mail had an interesting piece before Christmas and the great toy-buying season, about how toys are more gendered now than before.
This was particularly striking to us this year, as The Boy is hovering on that fine line between going all the way over to the boy side of toys, clothing, and interests (more on that later), and still straddling the two divides. Remember, this is my lovely son who loves fashion toys like this and this.
So the good news is, he has been interested in My Little Pony (MLP, for those in the know) for the last year or so, and there seems to be no end in sight. He is a proud young “Brony“, and doesn’t get embarrassed when he asks one of his friends, “Are you into MLP?” and a few of them reply with a snort, “No!” He simply declares proudly, “Oh well, I am!”, and is enthusiastic when he finds another Brony to share his interest.
He watches the episodes on Netflix, trying to catch up to the most recent season; reads the graphic novels as his “non-serious reading”; and recently used some allowance money to purchase a small figure at our local comic book shop, forgoing the wide range of superhero merchandise. His sister kindly bought him another one for Christmas, and he showed great appreciation for it. The figures now both sit proudly on his bookshelf, where he lovingly guards them. (Last night as I put away some books, he called out, “Be careful. Don’t knock over my ponies.”) He’d buy more, but his wants are currently divided between MLP and LEGO.
Though I myself was never into MLP when I was a kid (yes, they’ve been around that long), I’m glad that the message of “Friendship is Magic” delights children of both sexes. And I’m glad that despite some slight hints of criticism or mockery from some of his male friends, my son hasn’t abandoned yet his path of gender-free play. In a world where others have been treated badly under similar circumstances (like this and this—seriously, what’s with North Carolina?), my son continues to enjoy his ponies without fear or embarrassment.