Toys R US announced earlier this month that all stores across the UK would soon be displaying toys in a gender neutral manner. This means that retailers like Toys R US will no longer have pink girls and blue boys sections in their stores; perhaps it’s about time too. Today’s society is becoming a more neutral society and for many of us, gone are the days of set gender roles in life thanks to versatility and options in all walks of life no matter what gender you are.
If you base the soon to be changes made by retailers based on ever-changing lifestyles etc alone, then toys being marketed at one gender or the other seems very outdated. Toy’s R US announced the changes shortly after a Swedish toy catalog Leklust’s made the recent announcement of moving away from the outdated gender roles.
Why its a Good Move
Firstly, segregation of any kind has not proved to be very successful and in many cases, extremely harmful; you just have to look back at the days of colour segregation and the sad goings-on in places like Mississippi. I’m not suggesting for one minute that this is a straight comparison with those issues, but just merely stating that segregation more often than not, is a bad thing for those involved and society in general. It’s almost like going backwards.
The choice of toys for both boys and girls could help them integrate much better than they currently seem to do. Remember the days of the playground at school when most of the time girls played with girls and likewise the same goes for boys. I can’t help but think that this was partly due to being segregated by choice in toys and what was deemed as acceptable, even peers would judge.
So, now by the looks of things, boys and girls will both be walking into the same toy sections of the Toys R US toy store; gone are the days of girls being left with no choice but to have a Barbie’s kitchen set or doll bought for them!
There’s no doubt that for some children, they would love to be able to play with a certain toy without being judged by peers and/or in fact their relatives and parents. Sometimes family members may make comments on the types of toys a child plays with in reference to gender for example, you can’t play with that, it’s too girly or do you want to be a tom boy?
These types of comments may seem harmless, but it’s already planting a seed in their mind and bridging a gap between boys and girls, when really at a young age in-particularly shouldn’t matter at all what the child wants to play with and who.
Once people take a step back and think about everything relating to this subject the chances are that more people will agree with the changes in relation to gender neutral toys is bad for society generally. Limiting children’s daily choices, can lead to Socialization, which forces children to play with toys that they might not even like.
There have been many others who have written about how Barbie’s unrealistic body reinforces how girls think about their own body image. The Developmental Psychology have previously published a studying relation to the subject matter and in light of the study, concluded that the majority of girls exposed to Barbie dolls suffered from personal body dissatisfaction and low self-esteem.
Obviously, a persons low self-esteem and ill feelings towards their own body image is not solely due to Barbie dolls and so on, but these factors of being brought up around stereotyping in these ways does not bode well.
Perhaps the best types of kids presents, whether that be for their birthday or Christmas presents, as well as retailers implementing gender neutral isles in-store are those in which have no bearing on gender i.e. Monopoly, Scrabble etc.
Source: kids Presents: Time to Ditch the Gender Sections Say Toy Retailers