I don’t encourage gendered play but I do know based on research in developmental psychology as well as animal behaviour that kids of a particular sex often gravitate toward toys geared toward their gender (for instance, boys may be more likely to play with toy vehicles). Raspberry gets exposed to toys aimed at both genders, but more often than not, she prefers playing the way many girls do, such as pretend cooking.
Recently, she’s been engaging in more stereotypically feminine play and I have no idea where some of it even comes from. Like, she’s taken to wearing imaginary high heels whenever she goes out. By the way, her heels have a bungee cord and a zipper and are waterproof. I own nary a pair of heeled shoes and I can only gather than she’s picked this up from seeing other people. Also, she’s been putting on what she considers to be makeup — chapstick on her eyes to keep them from drying out. I know she got this from a glimpse of a makeup ad that came before a Feist video on Youtube, in which Jennifer Garner was removing makeup from her eyes; Raspberry asked me what she was doing, I explained it and lo and behold, she now pretends to put chapstick on her eyes. I hardly (read: never) wear makeup, so perhaps the appeal of this comes from the fact that it’s novel and maybe because my sister uses makeup too.
Oh, and a few days ago, we went to the grocery store and she carried a tiny, hideous bejewelled purse (something my sister got in a loot bag) all through the store. Her friends — a wooden duck named Buttons and a wooden cat named Puff (or Giant Poofy Cat) — were in it. Granted, she did look kind of cute and some people went awwwww, but I was a bit mortified that she was displaying such stereotypically female behaviour. I know that to her, she was merely carrying around her friends in what she thought was a cool purse but I was just feeling unsettled by it all, possibly because I despise all the pinkness and princess culture thrust upon girls these days. I suppose because I also expected Raspberry to display more gender-neutral or gender-diverse characteristics because we try to raise her in such an environment. Anyhow, maybe it’s just a phase and she’ll get bored of it and move on, or maybe she’s just more feminine than I thought. I’ll just sit back and be duly entertained by her antics in the meantime.