Toys are an essential part of a child’s growth. We need them to express ourselves and to bring out our creative sides. In general, when a kid wants to play with a certain toy, they won’t care what gender it is marketed toward. I am no stranger to that. I always enjoyed playing with action figures, remote controlled robots and cars, toy snakes, dinosaurs and lizards. I never liked playing with dolls; I was what many would call a tomboy. My parents were supportive and taught me not to care about what I played with, as long as it brought me joy and sparked my creative side. However, growing up my peers told me that the toys I played with were considered “boy” toys. Often times I was ridiculed for being a bit of a tomboy by other kids my age. This often alienated me from other people and was one of the reasons I was relentlessly bullied. I feel that a lot of this can be blamed on the media. So when I heard about people fighting to get rid of boy and girl labels on toys, I couldn’t have been more pleased. I believe that people should stop gender labelling certain toys because I feel this could lower bullying and judgement.
I read an article on Today’s website about a boy who went to his elementary school wearing a My Little Pony backpack. He was picked on so much that the school banned him from wearing the backpack to school. My Little Pony has become popular with people of all ages and genders for both its storyline and messages of friendship and its reinforcing positive morals. Yet again, the show has still been labelled by other people as a girl show. A story such as that one highlights how cruel kids can be based on what they are shown in the media. Again, I believe that past marketing techniques are to blame for this type of negative behavior. Action figures, toy cars, toy soldiers and so on have been labeled as boy toys. Dolls, play kitchens and play princess items and so on have been marketed in the girls section. When we walk into toy stores we see they are split into boy and girl sections. As a kid, I didn’t care about going into the boys’ section, but as I grew older I felt a bit self-conscious as I noticed people looking at me. A child looking at toys should never have to feel that way. A child should only have to focus on the toys and not the people looking at them or how people are treating them.
I feel that nowadays, the media has gotten better when it comes to gendering toys; however, I feel that because toys have been labelled as being for a certain gender in the past, they educate the people of today that it is okay to be a girl and love playing with trucks or be a boy and enjoy playing with dolls. I would love to see more commercials with gender-inclusiveness because I feel that as long as we keep trying to blur the lines of gender in toys, we will see less bullying and more social progress.
Katherine Glosser can be contacted at email@example.com