My son enjoys dressing up like a princess and playing dolls with his sister. My daughter has a blast racing cars around a track and taking orders to fix things around the house. The kids share most of their toys because within our home, there is no such thing as a "girl toy" or a "boy toy." And apparently, I'm not the only one.
In response to their customers, Target announced they are getting rid of their gender-based marketing and signage. According to Target's blog, they "never want guests or their families to feel frustrated or limited by the way things are presented." I was thrilled by this announcement, because it's an important move.
Gender-based marketing has influenced my children despite my best efforts to promote toys as simply toys. Without gender. Without stereotypes attached to them. While shopping my daughter has pointed out items at the store and told me, "I don't want that. That's a boy toy. I want a girl toy."
When she starts labeling things that way I simply say, "It's a toy. Boys and girls can play with it if they want to." But, it's hard to be heard over the signs and colors used to signal what toys and other items are considered for boys or girls.
No matter how hard we've tried to encourage our children to play with whatever toys they are interested in, they are still influenced by society's gender stereotypes. About a year ago, when I asked my daughter to help pick up the crayons strewn across our living room, she told me to pick up the "boy" crayons. That gave me pause. Where did she get the idea there were boy crayons? I explained that crayons were crayons—everyone can use them.
It didn't stop there. She arbitrarily assigned certain colors as being for boys and others for girls, even if they didn't follow stereotypes. I could tell she was trying to work this out in her mind. Of course she knows there are boys and there are girls, but I don't want my kids to think their biological sex or their gender limits the things they can play with, wear, or become.
Yes, it'll be easier to take my children shopping in their new toy section, because both of my kids can look at all the fun toys without feeling uncomfortable and questioning their placement.
And that's exactly why I applaud Target's revolutionary move.
Yes, it'll be easier to take my children shopping in their new toy section, because both of my kids can look at all the fun toys without feeling uncomfortable and questioning their placement. But I think it's more than that.
I hope this helps expand toy offerings that have continuously been marketed in stereotypical gender colors, such as pink brooms.
I hope it helps people think outside the gender box when shopping for kids' gifts.
I hope it paves the way towards more gender neutral items, such as clothing.
I like that both my son and daughter pretend to cook in our play kitchen, cradle baby dolls, build towers, conduct science experiments, and dress up like Anna and Elsa. I want them to play, explore and have fun. I never want them to fear judgement for their interests. I just want them to be happy.
Thanks for listening to us, Target. That was a smart move.