There’s no denying that stereotyping can have an adverse impact at any age; it hurts all of us, is passed from generation to generation and can particularly affect our children. It can start with something as simple as the toys they play with. For example, when little girls and boys are given are a particular toy, this can shape their childhood games, long-term dreams, and aspirations. So, yes, the choice of toy is important – girls’ toys are typically liable to lead to passivity – combing the hair of Barbie, for instance – not building, imaging or being creative with Lego or Meccano and the opposite can be true for boys in that they might be encouraged not to pick what is typically known as a more feminine toy. To restrict either gender from their choice of a toy isn’t healthy either, though, what’s important is shaping and encouraging our children’s active, curious minds, regardless of what toy they choose to play with.
Luckily, times are changing. Barbie is becoming more diverse, and toy companies are slowly warming to the idea of gender neutrality. Case in point, this latest adorable ad from UK toy store, Smyths. The ad, ‘If I Were a Toy’ (yes, sung to the Beyoncé tune of ‘If I Were A Boy’) is receiving praise on social media for its refusal to conform and perpetuate old stereotypes. In the short clip, we meet Oscar, a young boy imagining what he’d do if he was a toy for a day and he goes on any amount of adventures; flies through space as a rocket, rides alongside Chewie in the Millennium Falcon, and dons a pink dress and crown before waving to his subjects from the roof of a castle.
— Man vs Pink (@ManVsPink) September 25, 2016
@Katyschnitzler We couldn’t agree more Katy, thanks so much for the feedback!
— Smyths Toys UK (@SmythsToysUK) September 25, 2016
The new Smyths Toy Superstore ad shows a little boy playing princess and I’m just
De-gendering toys is so important !!!
— Meg[atron] (@Jacks0nsWang) September 24, 2016
We love it, and you will too:
The topic of gender stereotyping, particularly when it comes to children’s toys, was big news last year, when big US retailers such asWal-Mart and Target announced their intentions to eliminate gender labels from all their children’s toys and bedding, so families didn’t feel “frustrated or limited by the way things are presented.”
More of this in 2016, please.