COLUMN: Girls will not always be girls

Little Miss Inventor
Little Miss Inventor
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In the latest attempt to even up the gender stakes, a new character is joining the Mr Men and Little Miss series - a female scientist.

Makers hope to create a positive role model in the latest Little Miss - turning the princessy pink stereotypes on their head, blah blah.

I don’t mean to be sceptical - it’s great the ultimately nostalgic brand is constantly evolving.

But the prefix ‘Little Miss’ evokes an image of little, tiny, sweet, ultimately delicate and unwed womanhood that remains at odds with the ‘intelligent, ingenious and inventive’ young woman Little Miss Inventor is intended to be.

It’s probably a step in the right direction - it’s not that long since Little Miss was a controversial addition to the Mr Men after all.

And at least illustrator Alan Hargreaves , the son of their creator Roger,is trying to make a difference .

But you can’t help thinking we have a long way to go until the full abilities and potential of women get the chance to shine.

Certainly Little Miss Inventor is a step up from the Disney princess whose only ultimate desire - no matter how ball busting and quirky the character - is to wed the Prince.

And procreate.

Most brands are now buying into a new narrative, with some success, depending on the way you look at it.

Barbie, the girly, shopping-mad supermodel doll with brains of pink cotton wool -if the children’s TV series is to be taken literally - is now available in multiple different body shapes, skin tones and facial structures in a bid to reflect the fact that not all girls are six feet tall blonde bombshells with button noses and no discernable hips.

Which is great but smacks of tokenism of the too little too late variety.

While the word ‘doll’ remains synonymous with girls and specifically with young, attractive girls of a certain limited brainpower, the big toy companies might be fighting a battle already lost.

But at least they are fighting.

Meanwhile girls will go on to achieve, no matter what books they read or dolls they play with.

We just need to remember how powerful the living, breathing, variety are - with or without the label Little Miss.