A Sky Full of Thunderbolts

MaxFreedomtoMarry

Sometimes life can be glorious. With all the depressing things our country has endured over the last few months, It’s hard not to get choked up with joy over the outpouring of good news that’s taken place over these past 2 weeks. Obamacare becomes the law of the land. The long overdue removal of the confederate flag, and drum roll please…the Supreme Court declares same-sex couples the right to marry in all 50 states.

I’m grateful that my LGBT friends and family are finally recognized by our country as the loving families and couples that they’ve always been.

I’m grateful that my son will feel free to choose love not based on what the government says, but what his heart says.

President Obama said it best, “Sometimes there are days like this, when that slow, steady effort is rewarded with justice that arrives like a thunderbolt”.

Tonight we celebrate what makes this country great with a sky full off thunderbolts. Happy 4th of July! – Jill Topol

Advertisements

The Gender Bias World of Toys

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It is scientifically proven that a boy’s testicles will shrink if they pick up a Barbie and a girl will undoubtedly grow chest hair if she plays with a Batman figurine. As preposterous as this sounds, this is what our society sees when it comes to our children and acceptable playtime behavior. But who decided that pastel colors and dolls should only be enjoyed by girls, and blue and trucks by boys?

As a parent, I have Nickelodeon, The Disney Channel and a whole slew of other kids networks blasting from my TV more than I’d care to admit. One thing that is blindingly obvious during toy commercials is that you rarely ever see boys and girls playing together. Boy and girl commercials are two very separate entities, with the very rare exception of a board game or Slip and Slide commercial. How do we expect our children to broaden their creativity when the toy companies and retailers themselves are stunting their growth by dictating what toys they should play with based on gender?

Even Disney’s beloved Frozen sadly falls into the category of gender bias commercials. Almost every child in the universe (boys and girls alike) have seen and fallen in love with the movie Frozen. And who can blame them? It’s a wonderful movie. It grossed over 1 billion dollars in worldwide box office revenue, making it the highest grossing animated film of all time. But if you take a look at toy commercials for Frozen you’ll see one obvious thing missing, the boys. Why is it ok for little boys to love the movie, but not ok for them to play with the toys? I just don’t get it. It makes me really sad. We’re stifling our children’s creativity in fear of what? That they’ll turn gay if they play with an Anna and Elsa doll. You know that’s not how it works, right?

I take this whole stereotyping toys BS very personal. As the proud mother of a 7 year old boy who sees no gender when it comes to his imagination and love for toys, Frozen dolls were on the top of his holiday wish list last year. Like millions of other children, my boy couldn’t get enough of the movie and was constantly singing “Let it Go”. A ballad that for many parents became as annoying as nails on a chalkboard due to the fact our kids were belting it out from sunrise to sunset. But for me, the song always made me tear up. I’d listen to the lyrics and my heart would slowly break a little inside. This was my son’s anthem. “Conceal don’t feel, don’t let them know…Well now they know!” As “Let it Go” lyricist Kristen Anderson-Lopez explained it, “I was really excited to write an anthem that said, ‘Screw fear and shame, be yourself, be powerful,” That’s my beautiful little boy in a nutshell. A boy who makes no apologies for liking pretty things. A boy whose imagination takes him on adventures we only wish we could experience in real life. A boy who’s been called “Barbie” by bullies in an attempt to make him cry (and failed). A boy who stands up for himself on a daily basis at school because his peers don’t understand why he likes “girl” toys. Well whoever taught these kids that these were “girl” toys? Why can’t they just be TOYS!

It’s time we realize that toys don’t have a gender. We assign it to them.

My child’s story is far from an isolated case. There are tons and tons of children out there who like toys originally created with the opposite sex in mind. The problem is that many kids are afraid and embarrassed of the repercussions if exposed. A boy who only feels secure playing with his Hello Kitty doll in the privacy of his own bedroom because he’s ashamed someone might see him. A little girl who’s turned her locked bathroom into Spiderman’s lair because she’s worried her brother will tease her if she’s caught playing with the web slinger. Playtime should be a joyous time for our children. They shouldn’t feel worried that making the “wrong” toy selection based on their gender might get them teased or bullied. Or are we a society so narrow-minded that we really do believe a boy should only stick to sports, super heroes and bloodshed and girls are better suited for shopping, beauty and tiaras. This is the same type of mentality that says “A woman’s place is in the home”.

GenderBiasToys2

Instructions from a 1973 Lego set has recently made news reminding us of the beauty of gender equality through play. It also shows that over the last 40 years we have sadly taken a step backwards. (Pardon the grammatical errors. This was translated from a German Lego toy set)

The urge to create is equally strong in all children. Boys and girls. It’s imagination that counts. Not skill. You build whatever comes into your head, the way you want it. A bed or a truck. A dolls house or a spaceship. A lot of boys like doll houses. They’re more human than spaceships. A lot of girls prefer spaceships. They’re more exciting than dolls houses. The most important thing is to put the right material in their hands and let them create whatever appeals to them. – Lego

And let’s not forget Marlo Thomas’ 1972 ground-breaking film Free To Be… You And Me. Teaching children (and parents) the concept of gender equality and finding acceptance within. The song and video for “William’s Doll” (the story of a boy longing for a doll) is still as meaningful today as it was 40 years ago.

While companies like Toys R Us are still segregating the boys from the girls into different sections of their brick and mortar and online stores; making it virtually impossible for a child to feel comfortable shopping outside of what’s expected of them, there are companies trying to make a difference.

Back in 2011, London’s historic Hamleys (the world’s oldest toy store) took steps towards gender equality by taking down their pink and blue signage and replacing it with floors divided into themes. A year later Harrods followed suit by creating their own 26,000 square foot gender-neutral toy department called “Toy Kingdom” which is also divided into themes, rather than sex. Hopefully this is just the very beginning of a new trend on how we view toys.

While I’m not saying every little boy should drop their race car in exchange for a princess;
I long for the day when Cinderella can hop into a Hot Wheels and drive off into the sunset…AND IT WILL BE NO BIG DEAL. – Jill Topol

 

 


I Love You Keith Haring

Since our latest “T-Shirt of the Week” is a Keith Haring tee, I thought it was only fitting to repost this tribute I wrote 2 years ago dedicated to one of my all-time favorite artists. xo, Jilly 

Back in my high school days, I was a funky new wave chick with a mad passion for art, music and fashion. To paint a clearer picture, I would have been the perfect casting choice for “the best friend” of Molly Ringwald & Duckie in the movie “Pretty in Pink”.

I remember wearing my Keith Haring pins on my denim jacket, and a limited edition Keith Haring Swatch Watch that I got as a birthday present from my grandma. I literally wore that watch everyday until it fell apart. Pop art always had a special place in my heart. The bright colors and whimsical attitude just seemed to fit in perfectly with my lifestyle. Andy Warhol was the master and Roy Lichtenstein was a genius, but growing up in the 80’s nobody could come close to Keith Haring. He was the Andy Warhol of my generation.

Throughout his career, Haring devoted much of his time to public works of art including hundreds of white chalk drawings in subway stations and painted murals throughout New York City. He also collaborated on numerous projects with the likes of Madonna, Grace Jones, Yoko Ono and his own mentor Andy Warhol. Though his images had a childlike quality, the messages behind them were anything but. They were deep and relevant to modern day issues. Touching on subjects as serious as drug abuse and AIDS.

Sadly, Haring died way too young of AIDS related complications at 31. His legacy will forever be immortalized through his art.

Last weekend I went with my husband and Max to see the Keith Haring exhibition at The Brooklyn Museum. The exhibit chronicles Haring’s earlier work in NYC including personal sketchbooks and preserved subway chalk drawings. It was amazing to see in person stuff I had only previously seen in books. Plus it was great to watch Max’s reactions to some of the art. Even when he pointed to one painting and started to shout “I see a penis! I see a penis!”  In his defense, he did! Plus I’m pretty sure Keith Haring would have been okay with it. – Jill Topol

Brooklyn Museum

Keith Haring: 1978-1982

March 16 through July 8, 2012

www.brooklynmuseum.org

Keith Haring 1958-1990                                               My High School Swatch Watch

Posing with Brooke Shields 1986

“Crack is Wack” 1986  Handball Court Murals on Harlem River Drive and East 128th Street,  NYC

Untitled, 1981  Enamel on fiberboard

Down in the Subway

The exact moment Max realized Keith Haring was cooler than Justin Bieber

SOME COOL KEITH HARING ITEMS YOU CAN PURCHASE:

Keith Haring Rocker $260.00 www.openingceremony.us

Keith Haring Bumpkins Superbib 3 Pack $19.95 www.diapers.com

Keith Haring IPad Case $64.00 www.patriciafield.com


My Son Draculaura

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My son Max is the most confident person I’ve ever met in my life. This year for his school Halloween party he went as Draculaura from Monster High. Choosing to dress as a female character is nothing new for him. At only 7 years old he’s already gone in costume as Princess Leia and Padmé Amidala from Star Wars, Clawdeen Wolf from Monster High and Catwoman. When he was younger he wasn’t the least bit concerned what his peers might think of his “girlie” choices, but as he’s getting older he’s starting to worry.

Kids (and some adults) can be so cruel and it’s finally starting to take a toll on him. A boy in a “girls” costume makes him an easy mark for bullies, and great gossip for the mommies. I know that I’m “feeding him to the wolves” when I let him go to a school function dressed as the opposite sex, but what’s my other option? Tell him he can’t be who he is because some dipshit little kids and their parents feel awkward around my son. Not gonna happen on my watch. Not while I’m his mommy.

Needless to say he ended up having a blast at the Halloween party. Max’s friends and their parents are amazing and have always accepted him with open arms, no matter how sparkly and fabulous he is. Yes, there were a few stares and whispers (mostly from parents), but as I’ve always tried to instill in my son, we can’t worry about what everyone else thinks. My kid is polite, sensitive, loving, and has a heart of gold. He is perfect.

Is my son straight, gay, bi, trans or a metrosexual in the making? I have no clue, but I do know whatever God (or whatever higher power) has intended him to be, he is incredible. He is stronger and more secure with himself than most adults. I can’t wait to see what beautiful costume he has in store for next year. I’m sure it will be fabulous. – Jill TopolOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 


Happy 4th of July!

Max4thofJuly

Happy Birthday, America! 

From all of us at Super Goody Bag.

xo


Max Brando sings Kids in America

Lately Max has been obsessed with Kim Wilde’s 80’s classic Kids in America. I loved this song growing up! Could this mean some of my good taste in music is rubbing off on him? I guess only time will tell. Taylor Swift if your watching, please keep your pretty little paws off this one. He’s mine. – Jill Topol

Here’s the original version for those of you who are too young to remember or want to reminisce.


The Tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School

Today we sadly mourn the tragic loss of the children and teachers killed in the senseless shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. When I first turned on the television and heard the news, my brain had trouble processing what I was seeing and hearing. How could somebody carry out such a heinous act? It doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t seem real. My heart aches thinking of the families who have lost a child today. It’s every parent’s worst nightmare come true. I’m sorry if I sound like a pessimist, but life is not always fair. Not everything happens for a reason. There is no bright side to this. This is a horror show being played out right before our eyes. When it’s easier to purchase a gun than get your hands on a Doc McStuffins doll for your kid’s Christmas gift, it puts things into perspective. Gun laws need to change! To live in fear that any psycho can get their hands on a gun and shoot you down at the movies or in the classroom is unacceptable.

Tonight poor Max had to suffer through being smothered by me with endless hugs and kisses to the point where he asked me to stop. I found myself staring at him over and over again thinking what if? What if that had been my son’s kindergarten class? While the thought is too unbearable to imagine, I can’t help but feel vulnerable. I am an over protective mother by nature and would give my own life in exchange for my child, but I am helpless to protect my baby from predators who have an agenda. I hate that this is our reality.

My heart and prayers go out to all the families who have suffered a loss today. To everyone else with a child, hug them extra tight and be thankful. – Jill Topol