As a father of two young daughters, I’m glad to see the concept of body shaming becoming unacceptable in our society. Though we should always be encouraging healthy bodies, the idea that there is an ideal body shape of type for anyone is ludicrous. Being comfortable with our bodies and their eccentricities is a concept that is vital for everyone.
Unless it’s a penis.
While I’m glad to see such focus on maintaining healthy body concepts, I was floored by the reaction to the outrage-du-jour: Play-Doh Phallus. Let’s recap quickly: Play-Doh’s Sweet Shoppe Mountain set contains an extruder (the thing that pushes the dough through a funnel to create crazy shapes) that looks kinda like a penis.
END OF CIVILIZATION.
I’m not gonna lie, I thought it was funny. Penises have a reputation as funny appendages for some reason, but why should my adolescent mind dictate what toys my kids should play with (disclosure: the reason this would never make it into my house is because Play-Doh is the devil).
So parents are freaking out, Play-Doh is apologizing profusely, and the Internet is having its usual fun. But here’s the problem: Why are we allowing our adult insecurities and hang-ups to infiltrate the world where our kids play?
Do I feel a little weird dressing and undressing my kid’s dolls? Sometimes.
Does the light on the ceiling of my daughter’s room look a little bit like a boob? Maybe.
Do I still giggle a little inside whenever someone says “balls”? Perhaps.
However I’m not going to let my corrupted grown-up mind project my insecurities on my kids. And I’m certainly not going to ban anything from my house that looks vaguely like a body part you only see on HBO.
I remember playing with Play-Doh as a kid and the extruder has always been a long, cylindrical tube that tapers at the end with an opening. How else to do force the dough through a small opening to create shapes? If body shaming is such a big deal these days, why are going out of our way to make the penis something to fear and reject?
I know a bunch of you laughed reading that (as I did writing it), but it’s true. How do you explain to your 8-year-old boy why you’re taking his Play-Doh set back to the store?
“Jimmy, we have to take your Play-Doh set back to the store.”
“Um, well it looks like a penis.”
“So why is that bad?”
“Because penises are evil.”
Raise your hand if you think little Jimmy now has body issues?
Of course in reality, most parents would have just made up a lie to cover for their own overreaction, but if we’re being real, the lesson we’re teaching here is that certain body parts are shameful. As a society, we’ve been focusing a lot on empowering little girls, and helping them grow up with confidence and strength, and this is great. But my fear is that we’re starting to demonize masculinity and tip the scales too far. It’s the same argument that some use to suggest that skyscrapers are just a projection of male dominance and phallic obsession. Actually, they are simply the easiest way to densely pack a lot of square footage into a small footprint. Do we really need to start banning things simply because our adult minds can’t manage our own insecurities and biases?
I’m not going to say I wouldn’t laugh my ass off if my kid opened up that Play-Doh set on Christmas morning, but I certainly wouldn’t ban it and take to social media demanding the head’s of the corporate executive involved in releasing it.
Get over yourselves parents. Have your giggles, make your double-entendres, but don’t start hanging your baggage on your kid’s shoulders. The Play-Doh extruders of today are the bananas of tomorrow, and they can pry my banana from my cold, dead hands.
Oh, get your mind out of the gutter!