New toys promote changing outlook on female image

10 months 1 week 4 days ago May 18, 2016 May 18, 2016 Wednesday, May 18 2016 Wednesday, May 18, 2016 3:06:00 PM CDT in News
By: Rachel Leigh, KOMU 8 Reporter
COLUMBIA - Some parents might notice their children's toys look much different from the ones they grew up with.
 
Barbie is now available in all shapes and sizes. Target recently released a line of DC Super Hero Girls with the power of the world’s most iconic female characters from DC Comics. Project Mc2 wants young girls to know smart is cool, with a new line of dolls focusing on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). Some Legos are also geared toward young girls. 
 
And one Columbia father couldn't be happier.
 
"It never makes your life more difficult when you have a beautiful body and a great face and all that but that is a temporary phenomenon and the thing that really lasts is your education and what you really build into yourself as you're growing up," Harold Johnson said. 
 
Johnson is the father of 8-year-old Natalia, who proudly shows off her reading achievements to those willing to listen. He said he has always rewarded her for achievement sake, and stressed that writing, reading and math skills are the ones that will give Natalia a firm foundation for the future. 
 
"It's the ability to have a wide range of interests and a wide range of possibilities that's opened up when you have good academics, and go in that direction rather than try to focus on just the appearance." 
 
Natalia plays piano, reads books and just learned how to ride her new bike. But if you ask her about her favorite toy, she will proudly display a doll named Elizabeth.
 
"She likes to go to the library and read books. And her most favorite thing in the whole wide world to do is stay at the library the whole entire day until it's closed," Natalia said.  
 
"She chose the studious doll and there was a whole assortment available. That made me feel good," Johnson said.  
 
Although some think this is a positive change, it is still gaining popularity in Columbia.
 
Scott Dyer, co-owner of Once Upon a Child, a children's store that sells gently used children's necessities, said these forward thinking toys are still a product he doesn't see. 
 
"What we get in our store tends to reflect what people are buying in regular retail. If they're not making it in here they're not getting sold anywhere yet," Dyer said. 
 
Even so, Dyer hopes this new trend will be one that consumers will gain more popularity. 
 
"As a business owner I would have to say wait and see. As a dad I would have to say I hope so. It would be nice to see things that aren't so gender specific. Pink is girls, rough and tumble is boys stuff." 
 
Dyer has three daughters of his own, the youngest being seven. He said it's great to expose his daughter to opportunities that aren't gender-specific. 
 
"When our kids are born, they're kind of blank canvases of opportunity. They start getting more and more restricted the older they get. I think it's nice to keep those options broad and open," Dyer said. "Whether it's toys or expectations about what they're going to do with their life, to be more open I think is a really good thing for everybody."

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