Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What's wrong with this picture?

The Baroness checks in with this selection from the Lillian Vernon catalog. 

1.  How is this a toy?
Toddlers love their pop-corn lawnmowers and their toy food.  Toddlers love to do whatever grown-ups do.  A child this age already knows the difference between work and play.  She would not look this happy cleaning the 14th floor of the Chrysler Building.  Why would she be happy about pretending to?

2.  Stop it with the purple and pink already
I do not deny the phenomenon of purple's effect on little girls.  There is no explaining it.  But it can not, on its own, make a toy any more attractive.  See also.

3.  That child is wearing a smock

And khaki pants.  The universal cleaner's uniform.    And please, please, tell me she is not Latina.

4.  The catalog copy
"Pink trolley holds all she needs to spruce up her room.  8-piece set includes broom, mop, bucket, dust pan, whisk, broom [sic - you already said that - I think they meant "whisk broom"], vacuum and plastic bag.

let's continue...
"Canister style vacuum sounds like the real thing -- as light and release button to remove and empty container."  I promise you that is what it says.  Some of that sentence got caught in the brush attachment.

5. So.. why not give her the real thing?
Are you seriously cleaning her room while she follows behind not-cleaning her room?  You are being played for a fool.

6.  It got bad reviews
Note that the copy gives the size as 29.5 " high (2.5').  The child in this photo is very very small.  The reviews are a little hard to read here, but these parents call it small, flimsy, and not well made.

7. They also recommend it for Creative Development.
Say what you want about Barbie, but she was never a cleaning lady.  Not that there's anything wrong with that.  The Auntie from Asheboro, NC gives it a "VERY NICE" (all caps) and "just right" for her 2-year old niece.  Should they advertise it with a toddler, then? 

8. "You may also like...."  
This is what a little corporate sponsorship will get you: a caution sign and wet wipes.  (Kids have trouble getting access to wet wipes, after all. ) Notice that Meredith here is not a professional cleaner.  She is just having it all in her contemporary working girl apartment and business-casual internet wardrobe.

9.  I am not linking directly to the catalog because I do not wish to endorse.
That's not something wrong with this picture; I am just having trouble getting to 10.

10. $29.98, marked down from $45.
You have all that stuff in your house.  It is not purple or pink, but I promise you... she does not care.  And you might get your son to clean his room with the real machine.


  1. You know, I never noticed the purple and pink before. Now that you mention it, it really IS everywhere. I blame Barbie for that. Walk down the toy isle, and you'll always know where the girl section is. The boy section is seizure-educing.

  2. To share the email I sent to my little friend's parents:

    Dear parents of beloved aforementioned child:
    Dr.A and I are torn. (Actually, I'm the one who's probably expending the most mental energy analyzing my cognitive dissonance about the whole thing. See- even saying something like "the whole thing" makes it seem like this big hoo-ha, when in fact, it is such a small thing. But the personal is political, right?) I found this little cleaning trolley that I (and Dr.A) thought was really cute. It has a working vacuum cleaner that sucks up little foam pellets that you can then empty out again onto the floor and vacuum up again...and a mop & bucket, broom & dust bin, etc. You get the idea. While parts of me think this is darn cute, and wonders if R. is the sort of child who would like this sort of thing, I have mixed feelings. (Side thought - "Rather than getting her this stupid gift, why don't you spend more time with her so you know if she's the sort of kid who would like this sort of thing? Kids want love and attention, not stuff.") One obvious hesitation comes from the gender implications of giving a little girl a cleaning trolley. I don't want to perpetuate whatever kind of societal expectations there may be about women & cleaning. But then I thought about her following Dad around the house, imitating his vacuuming,and tell myself that it would not be a bad thing. Then it occurs tome...who does the vacuuming at your house? If it's Dad, would it be okay to give the present, but if Mom, would it not be, because it would re-inforce the idea that wives are for cleaning? (Side thought - "But everyhouse needs cleaning. Is Mom NOT supposed to clean, just to make a point? How stupid. What if she's the one who dislikes cleaning less, or maybe even likes cleaning?" Side-side thought - "This is a sign that I have not gotten to know Mom and Dad well enough - why don't I know whether they like cleaning?") The other hesitation comes from the idea that you probably don't want More Plastic Kid S*** filling up your living room. (Side thought - but what if they had a cleaning closet? Wouldn't it be so cute if she could keep her cleaning trolley in the closet with the real cleaning supplies?) Wouldn't we just be contributing to pollution, knowing that eventually this will get taken to the dump and piled up with all of the other unnecessary plastic crap out there? But are toys "unnecessary"? No, toys are good; they develop creativity, motor skills, social skills, and...whatever else is supposed to be developed in little people. But could I make her a cleaning trolley out of recycled cardboard, paint it bright colors with non-toxic paint, which would keep her equally entertained? (But WILL I?) Anyways, the email began with intentions to ask you, honestly, whether or not we should get this for Ruby. But now I'm thinking maybe we should just make a donation to NOW in her honor. (But that's not very fun...Hey, NOW could make her future a lot more fun.) OH MY GOD - HOW DO YOU GUYS DO THIS??!! Every little decision can be made to be so big...Raising kids is hard.
    Best of luck in your parenting endeavors, JB & Dr.A


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