Dirt, Glitter, & Football: A Lesson in Gender Stereotyping

I recently made a post on my Instagram page that prompted this blog post, but in case you didn’t see it, here is a much longer synopsis:

My daughter recently received two books through a subscription book club. One of the books she received, however, had an illustrated picture of a man driving a backhoe on the cover. I flipped through and it was all about said man, his dog, and the jobs that he works throughout the day.

I put it on the shelf immediately. My darling daughter, in her cute polka dotted outfit and bow, wasn’t going to enjoy reading about a man driving a backhoe. This was obviously for a boy!

And on the shelf it sat for two straight months! I never pulled it down and my daughter passed it by since she was more interested in the all the books Mommy had been picking out and reading her.

And then one day she came across the book about the man with the backhoe. And she loved it. She flipped through it happily. She pointed to his pet dog and smiled. She brought it to me and turned around to plop down in my lap. I read the book and she was enthralled the entire time. She interacts with the words I say, she watches my fingers as we read and count, “one, two, three, four, five.”


And that’s when it hit me. I was total guilty of gender stereotyping! Shame on me!!! I had seen the cover and coined it a “boy book.” But, what does that even mean? I can’t believe I was ignorant enough to completely disregard this book because I coined it gender specific. Why did I think it was so wrong for my daughter to love a book about a helpful man on a backhoe? Hadn’t I grown up with a father and a grandfather that both drove backhoes and that I’d love riding along on! Me, a girl, had loved riding on the backhoe, playing in the dirt, and exploring their construction sites (when it was safe to, of course!) What I had done broke my heart!

If she wants to play with trucks and get dirty in the mud, great, if we have a son one day and he wants to play with dolls and wear pink, great. These things should never be attached to a gender to begin with. I want my daughter to know that I truly believe she can be anything she wants to be and do anything she wants to do! Maybe that means climbing Mt. Everest, or being an astronaut, or playing football, or competing in beauty pageants, or maybe, just maybe, it means driving a backhoe!

After I realized the fault, I reached out on social media, admitting what I had done and immediately wanting to grow awareness of this! And you know what, I received such support!

I had many mothers comment about similar instances they’ve dealt with. Not necessarily that they were at fault like I had been, but mothers that had addressed gender stereotyping in one way or another. And let me tell you, these mothers are far wiser than me!

It was so wonderful reading the stories of fellow moms and it meant more than they know that they reached out to me and showed support. I wanted their responses heard because I think this is some powerful stuff!

These are the comments they left on my Instagram post that day:

“[My daughter] loves cars and tools and I’m sure [my son] will be playing with dolls in no time at all! My brother used to play Barbies with me!” – Suzanne, The Glorious Mundane

“My son brought home Pinkalicious the other day and I loved it!” – Sarah, This Awkward Mom

“[My son and daughter] love sharing books! A lot of nights we read together now, and it’s always fun to see who’s collection they choose from.” – Jessica, Kozy & Co

“My son plays with Barbies when we go to my niece’s house.” – Shadia, Sound of a Bird

“My son asked for a stroller and a baby doll for Christmas last year. When asked why, he said because he wanted a baby just like Daddy (he had a new baby brother). He also asked for a kitchen. Two stereotypical ‘girl’ toys that Santa most definitely brought him. I got some flack from friends who didn’t understand. But you know what? [He] told people he was a “good daddy” when he pushed that stroller and he “cooks” for me almost everyday. He also has a massive collection of hot wheels cars and dump trucks that are his world. We are fostering imagination and life skills.” – Keala, Recipe for a Sweet Life

“My baby girl can get just as rough and tough as her brothers.” – Stephanie, I Literally LOL

Let’s put an end to gender stereotyping!

Please share any experiences you’ve had! I’d LOVE to hear them!!!



7 thoughts on “Dirt, Glitter, & Football: A Lesson in Gender Stereotyping

  1. Life By Mugs says:

    Love hearing about other moms breaking down stereotypes! I’m a former tomboy who would not be the adventurous person I am today if my mom had told me to stay clean or not play with trucks and dinos! Our son is a pretty typical boy picking out cars and dinos as his favorite toys but he also loves to rock his “babies” aka his teddies and put them to bed. He prefers Minnie’s pink roadster over mickey’s and LOVES to cook (which should never be a “girl thing” anyways)


  2. Deanna B. says:

    I don’t mind the girls playing with whatever toys they choose! They love adventure books, getting dirty, trucks, tractors, & everything that isn’t your typical girly toy! We don’t have a son yet but will do our best if we ever do to not gender stereotype. We hear a lot of lectures from my MIL about they shouldn’t get dirty, should wear more dresses, too wild “like a boy”, & it infuriates me! Kids are kids & deserve to be just that! Play is play…it’s not going to change anatomy or their lifestyle!


  3. Stephanie Gilbert says:

    It’s funny how we sometimes think that way…that a boy can’t learn to be a good daddy by playing with a baby doll or a girl can’t roll in the dirt, getting her pretty face dirty. Live hearing what you and these other moms had to say about the matter. Thanks for including me!


  4. kozyandco says:

    Such a great post Chelsea! I’m certainly guilty of gender stereotyping, having 2 sons and 1 daughter, but as they grow, I love watching them interact with each other regardless of which toys/books they “should” be playing with!


  5. Ryan says:

    Growing up with three brothers I distinctly remember playing with their GI Joes and parachuting them from the top of the stairs, tackle football was a favorite of mine because like my brothers I enjoyed the tackle part where I got the chance to show my strength by taking someone down, and to this day when men try to coddle me by carrying things “too heavy for a little lady like you” I take pride in being able to carry heavy things and prove them wrong.

    Everyone also always assumed that I would be super girly with make up and cologne and doing my hair, but it was my twin brother and guy cousins that were more interested in clothing, watches, hair products, and cologne. I just wanted to do the natural look and live in jeans. It didn’t make my brother or cousins any less manly than it made me any less of a woman. Each person finds themselves and expresses themselves in how they see fit as they grow and for as much as my daughter loves cars, trains, buses, and playing in the dirt, she also loves her stuffed animals and stickers with glitter. She is already showing a great interest in science (which has oddly been classified a male dominated field), but the way I see it, the world needs more women interested in math and science, just as much as we need more guys interested in what is classified as women’s work (cooking, sewing, and even art).


  6. Jacki says:

    My son plays with baby dolls and strollers and my daughter plays with a workbench and tools. We don’t segregate boy from girl toys. Way to go realizing it and making the change!


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