When I received a copy of Feminist Baby from Disney Hyperion Books, I was a little wary to review it. I’m male and while I support the idea that anybody can be whatever they want to be (a very Disney ideal), my voice in feminist discussions is not relevant to the conversation. I fully support the movement and all gender equality and will stand up for any woman or person of color who feels defeated by the systems in place, but it’s 100% not my views that matter here.
That being said, Feminist Baby is wonderful. Not just for moms to read to their newborn daughters, but for dads and boys too. Because Feminist Baby is truly about letting kids be whoever they feel they are. In other words, it’s relevant for any child who refuses to let society define them.
Glancing at the comments on Amazon’s listing for this book, I see that some are already starting a dialogue questioning whether this is truly feminism or not. I think the book’s biggest challenge is that the word “Feminism” has different interpretations and different public figures leading the cause in different ways, from Rosie O’Donnell to Emma Watson. But if you can get past your preconceived notions of what a book about a baby feminist should be, then you are likely to love this.
Within the chipboard pages, readers will find Feminist Baby enjoying all of her favorite activities. She doesn’t like pants (or most clothes), likes both pink and blue, dresses herself in crazy combinations, throws things, and plays with dolls and cars. In other words, Feminist Baby is an infant exploring her world and experiencing everything it has to offer to help her develop into whoever she’s meant to be. These ideals apply to all tiny humans, which is why it should not be restricted based on the gender of both parent and child.
I recently enjoyed binge watching the new Netflix science series for adults, Bill Nye Saves the World. In an episode called “The Sexual Spectrum,” Bill Nye (the Science Guy) talks about children’s gender identity development, which forms in their earliest years. They understand it by 2-years-old, and it’s solidified by age 4. I have vivid memories of not fitting into societal definitions of what’s for boys and what’s for girls and being told by both adults and peers in my life that I am a boy and should not play with mermaid dolls (The Little Mermaid was my jam). So a book like Feminist Baby would have been a big revelation for me. I highly recommend this to any parent with a toddler who seems to be exploring gender roles that don’t necessarily conform to their sex.
Author and illustrator Loryn Brantz has created a charming poem book with adorable images. Feminist Baby‘s artistic direction reminds me stylistically of some of the early Klaspy Csupo cartoons that were a staple of Nickelodeon in the 1990’s, like Rugrats. She has a wonderful sense of color and you will want to linger on each page a little longer to soak it all in. Fans of this book can keep up with Loryn on her personal website and through her daily work at Buzzfeed.
Feminist Baby is a charming story for all kids, girls and boys alike, and has a powerful message for parents. I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would, given my trepidation on adding my voice to this topic. The only way Disney Hyperion could have improved this release would have been to include a bonus poster that parents can hang in their child’s room of Feminist Baby posing like Rosie the Riveter, which appears on the final page of the book.
Alex has been blogging about Disney films since 2009 after a lifetime of fandom. He joined the Laughing Place team in 2014 and covers films across all of Disney’s brands, including Star Wars, Marvel, and Fox, in addition to books, music, toys, consumer products, and food. You can hear his voice as a member of the Laughing Place Podcast and his face can be seen on Laughing Place’s YouTube channel where he unboxes stuff.