Friday, 25 May 2012

Careers for Girls According To Felicity Wishes

Felicity Wishes is a British children's book series created by Emma Thomson. The main character Felicity, is a fairy who “makes friends with lots of people wherever she goes”. She is blonde and her favourite colour is pink. She always wears a lot of pink and her signature is her pink and white stripy tights. Felicity wants to be a “Friendship Fairy” when she is older.

Surprisingly, Felicity has turned out to be quite popular. I say ‘surprisingly’ because after reading her description I already want to throttle her. Sadly, her popularity has led to the launch of a magazine series.

And here, my friends, is where this whole depressing mess reaches new levels of facepalm. The magazine encourages little girls to dream about their future lives. "Every issue I try out a new job, from cake-maker to nurse, to popstar!" Felicity squeals. "Part 1 comes with a cute Felicity Wishes doll and with every issue there's a sparkly new outfit to dress her in!" If you like smacking yourself in the face, you can view the TV ad here.

It would seem that besides aspiring to be a “Friendship Fairy”, Felicity also fancies herself as a careers advisor. Unfortunately I’ve had the unpleasant task of sifting through the magazines, an experience which has scarred me for life, and I can quite confidently say that Felicity should stick to her day job. The occupations she recommends for girls include (in alphabetical order)...





'Butterfly House Attendant' (WTF?!)



'Circus Clown'


'Fashion designer'

'Flight Attendant'

'Flower girl' (is that even a career?)


'Hat maker'


'Jewellery Maker'



'Make-up Artist'



'Party Planner'

'Perfume Designer'



'Ski Instructor'


'TV Presenter'

'Teacher's help' (not even a teacher FFS!)

'Tour Guide'


'Weather girl'

Woah thanks Felicity for inspiring the next generation of trolly dollies, butterfly feeders, and clowns. “Felicity does not come with an astronaut's costume or a train driver's hat, and seems to want little girls to grow up to be homemakers and pop tarts and use too many exclamation marks” commented The Independent.

The majority of careers promoted by Felicity are low paid, a significant number involve servicing people (not like that), and 91% require no higher education. Why not go the whole way and have Felicity Lap dancer, Felicity Dinner Lady, Felicity Surrogate Mother, and Felicity Chip Shop Worker.

Here's an example of the magazine's contents, taken from the "Beautician" issue:

"You'll need to look perfect". "Not a hair out of place and a BIG smile". Translation: you must be visually presentable and a perfectionist. You are expected to be nice and sweet, to make other people feel comfortable, to be a people-pleaser.

As this magazine is aimed at girls aged 3-6, isn't their skin 'silky-smooth' enough?

The magazine is an example of how girls are socialised to be *prepared* to accept their place in the sexual division of labour. That is, to aspire to jobs which are less skilled, lower paid, and often part time. This Capitalist Patriarchal setup keeps females as cheap, unorganised labour which can be called upon to supplement the workforce in times of economic upturn, and discarded in times of recession. *and breathe*


emilyreacts said...

This is why my parents gave me non-gender orientated books instead of magazines (I did choose to read the Beano though). Where is Felicity the scientist?

Holly said...

Shit me I don't want any of those careers, I must be a man!!

PUKE If anyone gave my daughter this magazine I would be removing them from my house/ christmascard list (I don't have one but you get the jist) and I would also be emptying nappies into their shoes.... Seriously how do they get away with selling this sort of tosh?
It didn't used to bother me, then I had a baby & that baby was a girl now it bothers me a LOT...
"Butterfly house attendant" My arse! How many people in the UK have that in their cvs? How many butterfly houses even are there?
Girls like butterflies though right because they are pretty but we don't like moths because they are just boring coloured. Guess what Felicity? I like tarantulas and my tarantula is gonna eat your pretty little butterfly and its gonna crawl up your pretty stripy tights to scare the shit out of you mid makeover, because it can-

jamielynk said...


Anthony Hart-Jones said...

Wow... Why do people do this to their daughters? My 4-year old daughter would much rather read the Octonauts magazine or an X-men comic.

I work in a male-dominated industry and one of the biggest reasons for the gender-disparity is that girls are brought up being pushed toward certain jobs and away from others.

Beautician? My daughter would rather be Batman and I'd have it no other way...

capojop said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tammy said...

I am a hair stylist and I own my own business.(And I do like to think of myself as a feminist) I do agree with the article, but I think putting people who do those jobs down is counterproductive. Let each person be who they want to be. I am sorry if you feel being in the service industry is lowering yourself. I hope you don't let those who are below you know how you feel.

Alpha Parent said...

Tammy, it is the disproportional nudge in the direction of low-paid service industry jobs which I find abhorrent, rather than the service industry per se. This magazine clearly sees women as supporters of men: flight attendant but no pilot, nurse but no doctor, etc. There's no scientist, no lawyer, no engineer, no business woman, no politician. How can we complain that there isn't enough women in these jobs when we actively guide our daughters away from such roles?

Tammy Hervey said...

Serious respect to the person above who runs their own business.
I do worry about how feminists should react to these - it's no good just saying "avoid them" - they are everywhere and all-pervasive. And I'm envious of those whose daughters choose Octonauts or the Beano or the like. I kept this stuff out of the house (along with ALL women's magazines) while my girls were little. But now they have their own pocket money, it's not so easy.

TNTaggsy said...

I bet Emma Thompson might be regretting selling the rights to the (albeit gender stereotypical) books. In her defence, she's a Baby Milk Action supporter, boycotts Nestle and publicly put her name to Best Beginnings' cause. I bet Nanny McPhee wasn't on minimum wage though...

mypoppetblog said...

Interesting post - and one I pretty much agree with. Having a 3yo firecracker of a daughter is enough to make me want her horizons to be limitless.

ClaireNelson said...

"Dress up like a journalist!" As a journalist I dread to think what this actually entails.

Gabrielle Prendergast said...

And another thing - hat-makers should be called MILLINERS. Speak English, freaky fairy dream girl!

Ross Mountney said...

Gender stereotyping is sick-makingly insidious. But so is any stereotyping! It's real tricky to avoid it as a parent. But so necessary to open eyes beyond what is expected!

dillytante said...

Goodness, I want to cry at that. I am very lucky that my DD1 wants to be a Diego the Animal Rescuer when she grows up, fear of most animals notwithstanding.

Couldn't she have been a pilot instead of an air hostess? Of course there is nothing wrong with the careers listed, But we should be encouraging our children to aim for the very highest they can, not putting the glass ceiling over them at such a young age.

Charlotte Sarson said...

Just a small point, whilst I agree with the article as such, I dispute AlphaParent's point. Nurses (male or female) are not just supporters of doctors (male or female).

It is a profession in its own right requiring three years of degree level study, many nurses going on to study at masters level and beyond. The role is completely different from medics, they are part of the same team but not subordinate.

But yes, gender stereotyping is inherent in society. It's up to us as parents to show our children the breadth of opportunities they have regardless of what they 'should' aspire to be.

Prom Queen said...

When I grow up I want to live in a world where the gender stereotyping isn't as it was when I was actually a child - in the 60s and 70s. Then there were three steps suggested for us when we left my all-girls school: university if you could jump through the exam hoops, secretarial college or cookery college. And I thought we'd moved on since then. Still, I first came across Felicity Wishes when my son was about 6 and he wanted me to buy the book. And he wants to be a lawyer.

PS. I never was a prom queen. I once wrote a blog about trying to live without a car and therefore walking everywhere hence the prom bit. I'm not techy enough to lose the name!

emma thomson said...

In around 2007 there were over 50 magazines that also included: Geologist, Architect, Doctor, Photographer, Inventor, Eco-worker, Chef, Artist, Decorator, Magician.......

...try to remember that these magazines were fun gift products created to amuse. Their primary role wasn't to offer career advice but to entertain and engage children with developing their creativity.

One of the key considerations in choosing which career options to select was whether the outfit (and content) could be made fun and colourful enough to engage the child in play.

Of course, I am well aware of the allegorical impact of children's stories. However, these were not books (intended to be read many times over) - the editorial content of these limited-life magazines often only have a single-read life span....

....the dolls and their fabulous outfits on the other hand, I hope (over 5 years on) continue to provide hours of endless dress-up fun.

emma thomson said...

Wrong Emma. There's no P in my name and I still own all the rights :)

Entorien_Scriber said...

Best reply of the lot! Having two tarantulas, one trapdoor spider and a snake myself, as well as a nice 'normal' dog, I appreciate the feeling! I'm planning for children at the moment, and no matter if I have a boy or a girl they'll be taught to love all life, and that they can be whatever they want to be!

lulastic said...

Oh, sheesh. I'm sorry. But this makes me feel ill.
The careers things is maddening enough, but the whole mag is just symptomatic of a really serious issue regarding our daughters.
Friendly pink princess fairy cakes are becoming the face of our daughter's childhoods and it DOES have an effect, it DOES limit their futures.
I wish so much that talented authors like Emma Thomson would use their creativity to tell stories that empower our young girls, that spark their imagination and ambition, that challenge gender sterotypes and limiting constructs.
I mostly hope for a world where parents would make more conscious choices for thier kids, so that this kind of stuff isn't even an option to publish. said...

"these were not books (intended to be read many times over) - the editorial content of these limited-life magazines often only have a single-read life span"
What kind of kids do you have? Seriously, my kids generally ignore magazines but then get obsessed with one random story that has to be read again, and again, and again, even when the whole thing's falling to pieces and you've sellotaped it together a million times. Hell, I can remember stuff I read repeatedly in Nikki and Twinkle nearly thirty years ago. And it wasn't as bad as this.
What a wasted opportunity. Little girls aren't born thinking their skin isn't smooth enough. They wouldn't ever think it if no one told them. Because it's not even true, and there's so much else to think, and so much else to do, and so many other colours in the world. And, btw, I work in publishing and my outfits (mainly Dorothy Perkins and TU at Sainsbury's) totally rock. Do a magazine on me!

Taryn Ruth said...

Butterfly House Attendent is a real job and also you have to be like a professional butterfly scientist with a million degrees to be one. I know this because I applied to be one last summer and they were like 'This is an english degree and we are a house of SCIENCE'.

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