Would You Like Pink or Blue Fries With That?

Lightning Lad McDonald’s ToyI really wanted to send McDonald’s an email letter complaining about this, but since they won’t let me do that without including my address and telephone number, which I object to, and insist I agree to the terms of a document that I can’t find on their website (their website really sucks), I decided to post my complaint here instead. Besides, maybe if I post it here other people will understand the frustration and it won’t just be me sending my complaint into the void that is a corporate complaint box.

I am extremely disappointed in the current Happy Meal toys. I understand that sometimes they need to have multiple toy choices because of typical preferences (it makes sense that every kid isn’t going to be happy with a Barbie in their Happy Meal), and I accept this. I think choices are good. You learn to make big choices by being allowed to make little ones. My objection right now is the very offensive gendered division between the two choices. There doesn’t always need to be heavily gendered choices, simply having choices is probably enough if the choices are different enough. It is very frustrating to see the “girl” choice and the “boy” choice every single time. Especially when it’s often very insulting to girls!

Right now the “girl” choice is a set of mostly pinker-than-cotton candy stuffed animals wearing pink dresses (some of which say things like “baby” or “princess”) and their selling point is that you can take their clothes off and put them back on. What if you aren’t a “princess” girl? Or are just plain sick of baby stinking pink? It gets very old, you know. It’s especially frustrating because the “boy” choice is a set of superheroes from a series (The Legion of Superheroes) that appeals to girls as much as it appeals to boys, much like Teen Titans did. The problem is that none of the very dynamic, interesting and appealing female characters from the show are included in the line of toys. Of eight figures, not one is a girl. Not one.

Princess Bear McDonald’s ToyDid they really think that girls wouldn’t want the superhero figures? The Supergirl symbol is one of the hottest properties for little girls right now (clothing with it sells like crazy, as do notebooks and backpacks and everything else), that’s not just because they often put it on a pink background. It’s because being Supergirl is as appealing for little girls as being Superman is for little boys. The logo is very inspiring no matter who’s wearing it. Everyone wants to be a superhero at some point. In fact, being a superhero has always been appealing to children regardless of sex. It’s just often harder for girls to find role models for that wish. That’s why shows like The Legion of Superheroes and Justice League Unlimited are so awesome – they show strong, competent female heroes side by side with male ones. They give us girls role models to look up to and imitate in the superhero worlds just like our brothers have always had, and they make them easy to find (which has really always been the problem, since none of these characters are at all new).

It’s not fair that only boy superheroes should get to be in Happy Meals, and it’s not an easy thing to explain to a little girl who really wanted a Saturn Girl or a Phantom Girl figure why they can’t have one. And no one should have to. If McDonalds was going to make the major characters of the show into Happy Meal toys, they should have made the girl characters too. Or at least some of them. How hard would it really have been for them to have made figures of some of those girls? It’s not like they are elaborate, jointed figures or anything!

This is the year 2007, I would have hoped that we’d have moved beyond thinking so blatantly in terms of blue and pink, but obviously we haven’t. At least, McDonalds hasn’t. And in their world, superheroes are strictly blue. Sorry girls. Evidently McDonalds thinks boys=superheroes and action, girls=teddy bears and dress up. Hope that matches with your and your kids’ world view, because if not, you should probably go buy kids meals elsewhere. At least until McDonalds decides to give us girls some credit, but I wouldn’t hold your breath on that happening for a very long time!

If you want to see all the current Happy Meal toys, you can see them at the official Happy Meal website: HappyMeal.com
And if you want to write to McDonalds and are willing to give them more information than I was willing to, you can do that at their corporate website here: Corporate McDonalds Email Form

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