I was recently shopping at Burlington Coat Factory when my mom asked me to help her find a present for one of her friend's 5-year old daughter. I happily said yes and proceeded to scour the aisles of the toy section for about 20 minutes to find the perfect gift. Unfortunately, what I found was absolutely shocking because I couldn't find one toy that wasn't gender-oriented in one way or another.
All I could find were princesses with happy faces of girls on the front cover of the box, fake kitchen sets and ironing sets with only girls shown on the box, Minecraft toys with boys shown on the front cover, or lego sets with just boys shown playing on the box. I was disappointed that I couldn't even find one toy that showed both genders playing or a neutrally colored toy that wasn't displayed in a bright pink or dark blue box.
This experience with unnecessarily gendered toys has occurred before and when I was in high school, we were assigned a project in our history class to try and make a difference in our community. We collectively wrote multiple letters to Toys 'R' Us and explained this problem that we were seeing in our attempt to bring about some change, no matter how small. We received no response back, and the problem keeps growing.
I am writing this article because I believe this issue is still ever-present and the first step to fixing a problem is recognizing that there is one.
It is still very possible to solve this problem, and I ask that each and every one of you who are reading this do something to help fix this issue. It could be as simple as writing a letter to your local toy store or helping to promote new products on the market that hope to achieve gender equality in toys.
I'd like to recognize a few of these wonderful products and websites that I have come across throughout the years. "A Mighty Girl" is an absolutely amazing website that showcases thousands of books targeted towards girls of all ages. "Goldieblox" is a new line of toys similar to Legos that use gender-neutral colors and showcase young girls and boys on their product designs. They are construction sets designed for girls and boys with the goal of also hoping to decrease the under-representation of women in STEM by giving them the opportunity to experience the joys of science and engineering from an early age.
These products are the first steps to making a difference in the world of toys for young girls and boys alike. We don't want our future sons and daughters growing up believing that they are only confined to Nerf guns or Barbies, respectively. Let's continue to strive to bring about change in the toy industry.