YouTuber Mikki Willis makes videos. They often feature his growing kids, very occasionally his beautiful wife, Nadia, and always the family’s delightful escapades.
But one day, back in 2015, Willis added another string to his bow.
Posted by Nadia Salamanca on Monday, December 10, 2018
Willis’s young son Azai had a birthday and received two of the same present. Taking him out to pick a replacement, Willis willingly gave his son free rein in the toy store, but what did Azai bring back? A mermaid doll.
His son’s request prompted Willis to film an impromptu YouTube video in the parking lot of the toy store. “Now, how do you think a dad feels when his son wants to get this?” Willis asks the camera, before bringing the colorful mermaid doll slowly into frame.
His young son poses cheekily in the background, trying not to laugh. “Yeah!” Azai shouts joyfully. And Willis mirrors him: “Yeah!”
Posted by Nadia Salamanca on Friday, April 5, 2019
Some fathers may cringe at the idea of their young son playing with dolls, but times are (mercifully) changing, and increasingly, gender stereotyping children’s toys is old news.
Willis decided to film the aftermath of Azai’s birthday shopping trip in order to post an example to others; gender stereotyping is a choice, not an obligation. Willis supported his son’s decision to choose whatever toy he wanted, and it just so happens, this kid wanted a mermaid doll!
How would you feel if your son chose this??
Posted by Mikki Willis on Friday, August 21, 2015
The video garnered a flood of support from all over. To date, the inspiring dad’s message has over 4.2 million hits on YouTube, and is still doing the rounds. In fact, Willis’s posting of the video even coincided with a momentous decision by one huge American store to discontinue “boy-girl references” of their products.
Consumer giant Target revealed a new policy whereby they believe that “suggesting products by gender is unnecessary.”
In a corporate statement released on Aug. 7, 2015, the store shared: “We never want guests or their families to feel frustrated or limited by the way things are presented … we know that shopping preferences and needs change and, as guests have pointed out, in some departments like Toys, Home, or Entertainment, suggesting products by gender is unnecessary.”
If you ever think you’re too small to effect big change, think again! Disney was about to film an all girl commercial…
Posted by Mikki Willis on Thursday, September 24, 2015
“We heard you, and we agree.” Kudos to you, Target!
Melissa Atkins Wardy, a children’s retail expert and business owner, spoke to Upworthy to contribute her support for Target’s decision. “Why would we tell a kid they can’t like cars or pirates or fairies or pink?” she said. “Go for it, kid.”
Willis explained in his video description that, truth be told, he didn’t bat an eyelid when his son chose a mermaid doll. “It didn’t surprise me at all,” he revealed. “Azai is equally fascinated by princesses and robots.”
The family and I just taped one of the highest rated Spanish language TV shows. I’ll reveal the name of the show shortly…
Posted by Mikki Willis on Monday, October 26, 2015
“One moment he’s all boy,” the loving dad continued, “the next he’s expressing a softer, more angelic side. For me this behavior rings more authentic than playing one note all the time.”
“I let my boys choose their life.”
And there you have it. A toy is a toy, and we all need to chill out about the gender thing. Willis, you set an example to us all! We only have one question remaining…
Three years on, does Azai still play with the mermaid doll?