By Jenna Van De Ryt
Have you ever heard the saying, “a child’s brain is like a sponge?”
The saying goes, when children are young they are equivalent to a sponge constantly soaking up the world around them and learning a multitude of new information all for the very first time. For the sake of education, the early years of a child’s life can simply be defined as the optimum time for learning. But, with learning comes teaching, and what do toy store’s all pink and all blue aisles teach them?
It teaches children that there is a distinct difference between the segregated lines of color that divide toy store aisles. It prompts children to select one team to play on and to understand that they may never pinch hit for the other color. So, what would happen if a little girl wants to play with a dinosaur? Maybe she will grow up to be a paleontologist. Or, heaven forbid a young boy asks to have his very own doll. Maybe his professional path will lead him to becoming a pediatrician. Both, successful career paths in their own right, but for some reason at an early age it’s frowned upon for children to dabble in different subject areas that are not true to their gender.
Society says it’s unacceptable because, girls are pink and boys are blue. But not anymore. Big name retail stores Toys ‘R’ Us and Target have both announced that they are eliminating gendered toy marketing in all stores. “Boy” and “girl” labels on store aisles and toy packages will soon become a thing of the past. Gendered specific colored wall paper strung behind toy shelves will also be eliminated and transformed into a more monochromatic color. Toy products will be organized according to theme as opposed to gender.
These changes are in lieu of the UK-based campaign “Let Toys Be Toys,” which launched in November of 2012, and fights for the elimination of gender specific toy labeling. According to the campaign’s website, “isn’t it time that shops stopped limiting our children’s imagination by telling them what they ought to play with?” the site stated. “Let Toys Be Toys” is asking retailers and manufactures to start labeling and sorting toys according to function and theme opposed to gender. Allowing the child to decide which toy interests them the most will encourage imagination and creativity in lieu of their personal selection. The parent-led campaign has so far been successful in leading a total of 14 nation-wide retail stores, down the path of change and gender equality.
One of the first gender-neutral toys to be introduced to the neither pink nor blue shelves of toy stores is the Easy-Bake Oven. Hasbro, the maker of the new and improved oven, released a unisex version for bakers everywhere. Previously purple and pink, the 21st century oven is black, blue and silver, allowing all kids to simply bake!
Jon Whooley, an international relations professor at SF State, recently purchased a shopping cart and kitchen set for his two-year-old son, Miles simply because- his son wanted them.
“He likes shopping for groceries and then cooking food for himself and us,” Whooley said.
Whooley said his son cares more about the toy itself opposed to the color palette on the packaging.
“He seems to love playing with his tea set, as much as he likes driving his cars.” Whooley said.
“Let Toys Be Toys” continues to fight for gender fluidity in toy stores throughout the nation. Capitalizing on the theme that, “toys are toys for all girls and boys.”