How does children's play with dolls and action figures engender exploration of gendered identities: from aesthetics and appearances, to social standards, and various rituals and performances? This paper examines recent research in art education and gender studies concerning dolls and figural toys marketed to girls. As an artist and teacher educator, I will draw upon my teaching experiences and examine artifacts of pedagogy from popular material culture. I will address issues of consumption while taking into consideration taboos of gender and sexuality within public and private play. While children's toys as symbolic bodies may pose narrowly gendered and heteronormative models of adulthood, this article argues children may also begin to counter paradigms of gender and sexuality within unintended, subversive play at home and school. I will also propose coalitions of art and material culture, through which teachers can facilitate inquiries and projects around thoughtful juxtapositions of play, performance, and art-making.
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