Let’s see how old my readers are:
This isn’t exactly a deep revelation or anything, but for some reason this commercial popped into my head this morning as I was getting ready for work. I strongly suspect if you’re within five years or so of my age you have this jingle memorized still, but have you ever really thought about just how impossible it would be to market My Buddy in today’s kids’ toys market? Things weren’t as rigidly gendered in the 1980s as they are now– that is a straight up doll being marketed directly to boys, doing boy things like riding Big Wheels and hiding in a clubhouse and climbing trees. They’re not even trying to muddy the waters with the label “action figure.” My Buddy was a doll, and never wanted to be anything else.
There are not many ways in which I think American culture has backslid since the 80s, but the rigid adherence to gender essentialism in absolutely fucking everything related to kids is definitely one of them. I had a parent come in this morning looking for white bedroom furniture for her son, and it threw me for enough of a loop that I almost needed to have her repeat it to make sure I was hearing her right. Because no one buys white bedroom furniture for boys. We have a couple of sets that are gender neutral and you should see how incredibly confused people get when they can’t immediately figure out what genitalia the children in the room with the furniture are supposed to be. It would be hilarious if it weren’t so sad.