1. Science kits in the pink aisle. Your blood reaches boiling point when you see 'science kits' marketed at girls. You know the ones, you can't miss them. They are often shockingly pink and usually have the word 'sparkle/glitter/shine in the title. Because let's face it, what girl is going to be interested in the phenomenal world of science and experiments unless it is colour coded and labelled especially for them? And if the packaging has you riled, wait until you experience the contents. Someone somewhere in the bewildering arena of toy marketing has put to one side the whole world of wonder out there, and decided that all girls really want to know is how to make a homemade bath bomb or flavour their own lip balm.
Sit down. Have a nice cup of tea. Maybe a custard cream. Find some great science toys with higher aspirations in our Amazing Alice section.
2. There is not much space in Space. Your daughter/niece/granddaughter is enthralled by the cosmos. Naturally you look for toys and books to feed her curiosity. But beware. When it comes to merchandise there is not much space in Space. At least if you are a girl. The final frontier, if our toy manufacturers are to be believed, is largely the ambition of boys. It has become a personal obsession of mine to find Space related products that are unisex, promote females, or at least feature them in some way. This wouldn't be such a huge disappointment if the first British astronaut hadn't been a woman. Helen Sharman we salute you, even if we can't see you or your kind anywhere. Half of NASA's newest astronaut class are female. But still, the gorgeous Snurk astronaut bedding set that allows any child to climb in and dream of being an astronaut, disappointingly features a boy on the packaging. The girl version? A pink frilly ballgown and tiara. Sally Ride (American Astronaut) nailed it for me when she declared 'you can't be what you can't see'. Let's get excited about our universe. Boys and girls.
Don't despair. Sandra Bullock managed to get out there. Find space related toys (some even featuring GIRLS!) in our Ambitious Alice section.
3. Pirates. See Above. You think Space is ghettoised?! Thank goodness for the feisty girls in the Night Pirates and Pirate Queen Lottie (who is based on a real life 16th century female pirate!)
4. Click clack, click clack. Your heart sinks to the bottom of your comfortable converse when your 4 year old's favourite birthday present from a classmate is a pair of clippy cloppy princess high-heeled shoes. A lump of poorly crafted plastic that might as well have 'trip to A & E' spelt out in pink diamante jewels. The next week is spent insisting that she removes said death traps at the top of the stairs, and is only allowed to cram her sweaty sore little toes back in once she is safely on ground level (and preferably holding on to a zimmer frame). It turns out these vehicles of despair, despite their poor design are surprisingly resilient to hammer attack and being thrown out of top floor windows. Melting them down and burying in a lead vault deep in the garden seems to be the only way of ensuring they do not return to your toy box.
We don't sell shoes so no link for that here. Buy her something she can climb trees in, and hurl at her brother without causing long term scarring.
5. Lego - Girl Friend or Foe? The words 'Heartlake City' give you the hump. Aside from a few laudable exceptions, Lego seems to have got it into its head that boys need the whole world to satisfy their play ambitions from the deep sea bed to the starry skies. Girls? They get a cutesy pastel suburb. Time there, it appears, is spent in cupcake parlours, pizzerias, beauty salons, hair salons and taking care of pets. They are allowed to be vets and to ride horses. Hobbies go as far as karate and magic (okay, I don't mind that bit). It all feels a bit . . . WAG to me. Inhabitants with pleasure and leisure time rather than ambitions and a career. I understand not every parent is like me, and that there won’t be much demand for a lawyer’s office, architect firm, art gallery, and orchestra in Heartlake city (and even if there were, would my children want to play with them?). And yes I know I could just walk straight past and pick up the Lego City Box featuring something more aspirational, but it just gets my goat. Trying to get my youngest child to choose the City box over the Friends box is like trying to advocate guacamole over chocolate spread. And I don't need to tell you which one wins out.
We do sell building toys if your Alice is keen to construct.
If any of these 5 signs are familiar to you. Rest easy. You have found your tribe. At After Alice we do our best to provide a great range of toys and gifts that empower and embolden. That delight and engage. Girls and boys are children first. Play is where they start trying out who they might want to be and what they might want to do, in this mighty world of ours. We have no pink aisle. We have no blue aisle. We just have a wide range of good quality toys, books and games. Enjoy.
This blog piece first appeared on After Alice Ltd. in November 2016. Minimal changes have been made to bring it up to date for November 2017.