Jane Bradley: Forget toy boys, in the US it’s girls only

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WHEN retailer Boots separated out its toy section into “girl” and “boy”, shoppers were horrified.

Customers took to Twitter and Facebook to express their disgust at the move – specifically reacting to the news that Science Museum toys had been branded as uniquely suitable for little boys.

Within days, however, the pharmacy chain had backtracked, admitting it was wrong to label toys by gender.

But it was too late. A nationwide campaign, urging the nation to “let toys be toys” had launched on Change.org, attracting thousands of supporters and calling on all retailers to ensure that they do not make the same mistake.

In the US, however, consumer pressure does not seem to be quite so liberally minded. I recently became aware of the existence of a company behind a range of dolls – ownership of which, it seems, is a right of passage for every female child in the country.

The brand in question? The unequivocally gender-biased “American Girl” (“Follow your inner star” quoth the tagline).

I was pointed towards this firm by an American friend – and my mouth has since been hanging open after hours spent transfixed, car crash style, by their extensive website. Young girls can create dolls in their own image – albeit a standard body shape – for the bargain price of $124.

Sweeping any nonsense feminist notions aside, little girls can play stay-at-home-mom with a “Bitty Baby” – I tried not to think of the classic Little Britain sketch – which has every possible accessory available, including a “hoodie towel” for the doll’s bathtime, which, at $16, costs more than my real baby’s hoodie towel.

Perhaps my favourite American Girl accessory is the “Allergy-free lunch” – complete with mini plastic epi-pen and allergy bracelet – but for sheer anti-feminist tendencies, nothing can rival the $10 nail kit, to give your doll a “pretty polished look”.

American Girl? What happened to American Boy? Perhaps Boots doesn’t seem quite so bad after all.