I’m a 25-year-old male who has a little trouble accepting the whole concept of growing up. This can be explained by my countless trips to Disneyland, my sizeable collection of plush toys, and yes, me still buying your Happy Meals for myself. When I’m craving some McDonald’s, I usually go for the more “adult” Big Mac meal, but sometimes, the toys that come with Happy Meals are too cool to resist. So I think I have to tell you that I have a problem with how your employees are trained to sell Happy Meals.
It’s pretty common knowledge that Happy Meal toys are usually rolled out in two sets: one geared towards boys and one geared towards girls. This is understandable, since you want to be able to have something that every little boy, little girl, or young-at-heart adult may want to take home. My problem arises when the employee asks me which toy I want in a way that disappoints me every time.
Do you want the girl or boy toy?
The first time I can remember this upsetting me was a few years back when the Happy Meals could come with a Sanrio watch. This was considered the “girl’s” toy, and I had to embarrassingly say that I wanted the girl’s toy. Because it took me so off guard that the boy/girl question was asked with the purchase of Happy Meals, I went home feeling ashamed and upset (but at least I had a cool Badtz Maru watch.)
The next time I encountered this question was when Build-a-Bear toys were a selection, and surprise: I found myself wanting the “girl’s” toy again. However, since I was anticipating to be asked if I wanted the girl or boy toy, I made a mental note to ask for the Build-a-Bear toy, not the girl’s toy. My friend who I was with (who also happened to be a girl) ordered a Happy Meal with a Build-a-Bear, so I asked for the same thing when it was my turn to order. However, the employee didn’t ask me what toy I wanted so I found a football helmet in my box, clearly the toy meant for boys. I went back to the employee and asked “Actually, can I have the Build-a-Bear toy?” What the employee said left me feeling a little warm in the ears:
Oh, you mean the girl’s toy?
As upset as I was, I just had to simply acknowledge that I indeed wanted the “girl’s” toy, and quickly went back to my friend to have a little vent session. Cut to a future McDonald’s trip, when I was asked again if I wanted the girl or boy toy, and I made it clear that I wanted a Wizard of Oz figure (a.k.a. the “girl’s” toy). Finally, cut to today, when I stopped by a McDonald’s and saw that one of the toy sets was from the hit TV show, Adventure Time. I LOVE Adventure Time, so I got a Happy Meal just for that. Even though this time I wanted the “boy’s” toy, I still asked for the Adventure Time toy. And sure enough, I was still embarrassed that this question is still being asked.
So maybe it’s time for me to ask a question to you, McDonald’s: Why do you ask if a customer wants a boy or girl toy? Surely I’m not the only person who likes stuff that is targeted towards another gender, so am I really the only one making a fuss out of the fact that this boy/girl question is still asked? It isn’t any more time consuming to ask “What toy would you like?” or “Would you like the Adventure Time toy or the Paul Frank toy?” So why not ask a question that doesn’t make anyone feel isolated?
And I’m not raising a fuss just for myself. I, at least, can understand that this question is just extremely outdated and should be changed. But what about the young child who orders a Happy Meal and wants the toy meant for another gender? How will it affect them when something they want that is supposed to make them happy is something that they feel they shouldn’t want? Kids these days already go through enough things that make them confused about their identity. They shouldn’t have to question themselves when all they want is a cool toy in a Happy Meal.
So I beg you, McDonald’s, please consider throwing out the boy/girl question and replace it with something that’s more inclusive. It’s a small change that could make a world of difference to little boys, little girls, and young-at-heart adults like myself.