Where Did Catboy Go?


Where Did Catboy Go?As I look back on photos of when my daughter dressed for Halloween at her pre-K school, one thing sticks out: in a line of tutus, glitter, and pink, my girl was at the end, perfectly posed with confidence and dressed up as Catboy. I don’t think she noticed she was dressed differently than the other girls in her class. She was more concerned about corralling the two boys dressed as Geiko, Catboy’s teammate, and fighting crime on the playground.

But later that day, it started. “Mommy, why do I have to be Owlette?” she asked. Owlette is Catboy’s other teammate, but this team member happens to be a girl with a skirt and cape added to her costume, an accessory the other team members don’t have. “You don’t have to be Owlette. You can be Catboy. You can pretend to be any character you want,” I told her. That was enough in that moment to satisfy my daughter and make her ignore the little boy on the playground who told her she couldn’t be the character she loved.

We did not follow gender norms when buying toys or playing with characters at our house.

My daughter has Tonka trucks and Matchbox cars and tool sets. She has princess tiaras and play make-Up and Barbie dolls. We didn’t encourage her to play with anything based on gender — she was able to play with what she liked. And she liked everything. She had an interest in fixing things and building things as well as dressing up things and babying things.

And then came the princesses.

It started with Moana, and then Elsa, and now there is an overall obsession with all of them. I have no problem with this; she can like what she likes. But it wasn’t until so many people (mostly kids, but adults too!) told her that she shouldn’t want to be Catboy. She shouldn’t want to be Sonic. And they asked why she didn’t like pink more than dark blue. I’m annoyed at it. Why can’t she just like what she likes? What’s wrong with a little girl liking dark blue? It bothers me beyond just letting her choose her preference; it bothers me because it’s often restrictive. The female character of the group, especially with mostly male counterparts, is almost never the leader, the strongest, or the center of the plot line. Not to mention the wide array of skills boy toys feature, versus mostly a focus on beauty, fashion, and mothering for girls.

I’m over it. Do any other parents feel this way? It’s frustrating and as she gets older, it is only getting worse. She liked what she liked with full confidence until people told her she shouldn’t for no other reason than she is a girl.


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