Monday, January 10, 2011

only girls have eyelashes

Clare's been telling me this for months now: only girls have eyelashes.

She's right, you know. The most reliable way to determine the intended gender of any character in a little kid's media world is their eyelashes. If they're a girl, they have long sweepy eyelashes to bat at the camera. If they're a boy, they don't. Generally that's not the only gender signal, of course. Girls also generally have to have bows in their hair and all sorts of accessories. Good grief, Minnie Mouse still prances around in 1950's style high heeled shoes. But you could delete all that, honestly, and you'd still know the girls from the boys without any trouble because, as my perceptive 4-year-old has accurately pointed out, only girls have eyelashes.

So a few weeks ago, I proved to her that boys actually do have eyelashes "for realz" (that is to say, empirically). I made Brent take off his glasses so Clare could see that not only does he have eyelashes, they are way awesomer than mine. She accepted this but maintained: on TV, only girls have eyelashes.

I haven't thought much more about it, other than to grumble to myself about yet another manifestation of the ubiquitous "female-gender-as-marked" thing that my daughter is observant enough to note without understanding it. Then yesterday I came across this: Toys Receiving Makeovers. Apparently in the 80's version of these toys (including Care Bears, My Little Pony, Rainbow Brite and Strawberry Shortcake), girl characters didn't have to have Tammy-Faye mascara in order to be recognizable as girls. The worst thing about the side-by-side pics is that the toys in question were already nauseatingly girly to begin with--how much more gendered can you get than Care Bears and My Little Pony?!

So, when Clare draws girls (and her human representations are evolving quite rapidly these days! No more amoeba-spider-people!) they get two--yes, precisely two (?)--carefully drawn eyelashes. Otherwise of course you would never know that they are girls.

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