I was flying home with my kids a few days ago, and we stopped at Subway in the airport. After answering all their other questions -- "What kind of bread? Which cheese? Toasted or not? What toppings?" -- one of the questions floored me. "Girl or boy?"
I was confused because Subway's kids' meals aren't usually as polarized as some -- where, say, at McDonald's, the Hot Wheels must be for the boys and the Hello Kitty for the girls. Never mind the fact that the time my son found a cat toy in his dinner bag, he was thrilled, or that plenty of girls love cars, too.
"Do you want a girl bag or a boy bag for the meal?"
"What's the difference?"
"Dolphin or tiger?"
Wait, seriously? Dolphins must be for girls and tigers must be for boys? Now kids can only like certain animals depending on whether they're girls or boys?
Come on, people. I get that this is fast food, and that there is a built-in need for efficiency. "Girl or boy?" seems like easy enough shorthand, but it's putting kids in boxes so early, while they're still figuring out their interests. "Car or cat?" or "Tiger or dolphin?" works just as well and gets rid of the baggage.
I'd never encountered this at Subway, so it was probably a fluke, but it's not unheard of.
I'm hardly the first one to notice this. I'd like to give a tip of the hat to Pigtail Pals and Ballcap Buddies, whose Facebook postings on the matter caused me to have my antenna up a little more. This was just the most blatant, nonsensical stereotyping I'd seen in person in a while.
(Yes, I know one answer is to not eat fast food, but I reiterate: We were at the airport. And I'm a realist.)Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun