Mother Rightfully Takes Issue With Sexist Color Activity Given To Daughter

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Our daughters are growing up in a conventionally girly-centric world with just about a pink and blue everything to determine what exactly their interests should be as girls. And while some products are obviously over the top, some messages are little more subtle — like what one mother encountered on a coloring sheet given to her daughter in a restaurant.

You’re of course familiar with the coloring/menu activities given to kids in restaurants to occupy themselves with while their food comes. In her blog entry aptly titled “Sexism By The Slice,” Jackie had the sudden realization of what precisely her daughter was coloring:

When we sat down at the table, the waitress brought over a cup of crayons and an activity placement for E. I wasn’t really paying attention at first until E says to me, “Mommy, do you want to color this purse with me?”

“This what?”

In case you missed all the super awesome cool things that my 3-year-old daughter got to color, the placemat includes: two purses (you know, day and evening wear), a cell phone, nail polish, a shoe, a hat, a CD, a CREDIT CARD (gah!) and, of course, nail polish.

But wait, there’s more! Look at these brain-boosting words she got to search for:

Why, yes, how did they know that my toddler is a mall queen diva who was born to shop, party and makes purchases, preferably when there are sales? Give me a freaking break.

Jackie’s experience is hardly an isolated one. Consider for a minute how much of this content is in everything children see — from television shows to clothes to now even color activities in restaurants. Luckily, E. has the type of mother who took notice.



  1. Zara

    September 21, 2011 at 8:15 am

    “Luckily, E. has the type of mother who took notice.”

    So, what? The kids whose mothers wouldn’t have made such a dramatic fuss over a restaurant place mat are all screwed?

    • greencicada

      December 1, 2011 at 8:35 pm

      I don’t think she made a dramatic fuss. She just RECOGNIZED it as an instance of stereotyping, which it was, and posted it on her blog. For someone who doesn’t consider it such a big deal, you seem pretty pissy about it anyway.

  2. Brandy

    September 21, 2011 at 9:26 am

    You know, there is a simple solution than just taking the free mats that the restaurant offers…bring your own. Wow. I clicked this article thinking it was going to be so much more than just a silly mat. I’m sure Jackie’s precious 3-year-old still doesn’t know what a “mall queen who loves to shop” is. That is, unless Jackie informed her.

    • Leigha

      November 25, 2011 at 1:08 am

      There is not a single word in that phrase that your average three-year-old wouldn’t know, so I’m pretty sure she could figure it out (if she can read it, which is not necessarily the case, but is possible).

  3. Patrice

    September 21, 2011 at 10:33 am

    Although I agree that the place mat is silly,I don’t see what the big deal is. It’s not something I would have liked for my dd to have when she was 3 but at age 3 she would have recognized the items as things I use every day…like a purse and a cellphone. Too many people get offended very easily these days. Get over it!!

  4. RachelJ

    September 21, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    I DO see what the big deal is and appreciated the article. If we go around saying ‘so what, it’s just a placemat’ we don’t take notice of all the other ‘little’ ways in which our children are gender-categorized. We have to start taking notice, and rejecting it, because that’s how it got to be so ingrained in society in the first place–by people saying ‘what’s the big deal.’

    • Zara

      September 21, 2011 at 1:11 pm

      OMG I KNOW!! God FORBID my daughter is recognized for what she was born as… a FEMALE!!

      THE HORROR!!!

    • kathleen

      September 22, 2011 at 2:11 pm

      Exactly — of course our children know what gender they are, but the dangerous part is when people start assigning gendered behaviors and preferences — ‘you’re a girl, so you WILL want purses and credit cards!’ What’s the point in making separate sheets for boys and girls anyway? Most restaurants, thank goodness, don’t do this.

  5. Abigail

    September 21, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    Ohmylord! God forbid our children be identified as the gender they were born as!!! What is the world coming to when we tell our children they are girls and boys??? You know, I have no problem with my three year old boy playing with princess crowns and baking cookies. He can romp in my high heels and play with glitter like the best of them. But at the end of the day, he is a boy. And he knows that. While I agree that we need to encourage our girls to be more involved in their school work and in practical things, and we need to encourage our boys to be open and emotional and learn to cook, I also thing there is nothing wrong with letting them have a placemat or a purse or a princess game or a fairy tale book.

    • Leigha

      November 25, 2011 at 1:12 am

      What’s stupid, though, is that this restaurant deliberately got “boy placemats” and “girl placemats” under the assumption that these are boy things and these are girl things. This is obvious because most restaurants do not have separate placemats. (I’ve certainly never seen any. Actually, most of the restaurants I’ve seen use the same ones for adults and kids, with the kids’ stuff on the back. Then grownups can do word searches too, if they want, which is kind of nice on busy days.) So the question here is, WHY? Why are they going out of their way to separate something that doesn’t need to be separated?

  6. Ellena

    September 21, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    The author is not trying to stop people from recognizing that her daughter is female. She is trying to stop her daughter from equating that femaleness — that powerful drive, ambition, the ability to be strong and gentle, a mind that can see emotional connections and solve mathematical problems — be reduced to vapid, limiting stereotypes. Being a woman has nothing to do with shopping. I’m a woman. I hate shopping. That doesn’t make me less of a woman. It makes the stereotypes incorrect. These small sexist moments put women in boxes and add up to the sexist culture we live in today.

  7. Leah at One Vignette

    September 21, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    “God forbid our children be identified as the gender they were born as!!!”

    Are you kidding me? It’s the idea that we are molding our children to fit these silly, confining gender roles. My daughter is 3. Her “appropriate” placemat would have cars, and Thomas the Tank Engine, and butterflies, and balloons, and roller coasters. So would she get a “boy” placemat, or a “girl” placemat–you tell me? How dare we put our kids into stereotypical boxes. Mom Jovi was absolutely right in her indignation. We have no place to define our children’s interests–let alone based on their sex, and I’ll be darned if I’ll have anyone–a comment, a placemat, a advertisment, tell my child she has to be a shopping diva just because she was born a girl. She is better than that. All of our children are better than that.

  8. Pingback: New Children’s Books Tell Girls To Value Their Dresses | Mommyish

  9. DaddyJ

    September 21, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    Anger Management should be the topic for the comments here. Lots of “!!!” and CAPS. If you don’t agree with the blog, fine, but why get so pumped up about it? The blogger is a concerned mom and has every right to be. Also, there should be no judgement placed on the mentality of a three year old that isn’t yours. Just because your child doesn’t understand something, doesn’t mean another child at the same age can’t too. Maybe if more parents, like this blogger, were concerned about the influences around their children, we would have less Snooki’s around. Just sayin’

    Have a Disney Day. :o)

  10. Shannon

    November 30, 2011 at 6:14 pm

    Seriously? Good job the mother didn’t over-react or anything. The daughter got a sexist placemat. Give her a bunch of toy soldiers for Christmas and take away all her dolls (assuming she has any, what with them usually being representations of females) and see how that goes. Or maybe cut her hair short, dress her in army boots, and tell her she can’t ever, ever have a purse.

    Idiot mother.

  11. RKBoogeyman

    September 24, 2013 at 2:32 am

    I totally get where the author is coming from. I really do. I wasn’t a girly girl…ever. I’m still not a girly girl. But the one thing that keeps sticking out in my mind is actually what E said…not her mother or anyone else…what the child herself said. “Mommy, do you want to color this picture with me?”

    Sounds to me like she didn’t give two beans WHAT was on the paper. Didn’t seem to upset or offend or subconsciously indoctrinate her any. She jut wanted to color a picture with Mom.

    We should certainly give our children a variety of things to stimulate them so they can form their own personalities, be them boyish, girlish, or gender-neutral or some mix of the lot. But we shouldn’t freak out when something gender specific (and yes that was so friggin corny, I’ll give them that) appears.

    I personally never got the whole “OMG SHOP!!!! FASHION!” thing. It’s okay to be exposed to overly masculine and feminine things so long as you provide a large sense of variety between the two. That’s how I was raised anyway. I loved My Little Pony and Rainbow Brite…but I also loved Ghostbusters and He-Man and Go-Bots. I played with ponies and I played with cars. I loved action figures but despised baby dolls and Barbies.

    Variety Variety Variety

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