I came across this article on twitter tonight http://www.achilleseffect.com/201103word-cloud-how-toy-ad-vocabulary-reinforces-gender-stereotypes/. It is a blog post about gender stereotyping in the marketing of children’s toys.
Below is a tag cloud created by the website of words used in toys TV adverts in America. Words that are bigger are words that are used more often. Below is words used for boys toys, what strikes me is the words “battle”, “hero”, “stealth”, and “power”. I find it slightly bizarre that “battle” is the most used word – what are we trying to tell you boys?
Below is the tag cloud for girls and as you can see the some of the most used words are “love”, “magic”, “fun”, and “babies”. According to the advertising all girls obviously just want to fall in love and have babies while painting their nails, right?
Surely this puts such pressure on young children. What if you are a boy, but actually you really want to become a Dad one day and you would like to play with a doll? Or what if you are a girl and you want to become an engineer and want to build train sets? Or actually what if you are a kid and you just want to play with a toy?
This then got me looking at the rest of the website. The website discusses the effect of gender stereotyping on boys. It makes me a little sad, as I have a 4-year old boy myself, and although I myself avoid stereotyping (as much as possible), he is still getting subliminal messages from somewhere. Only the other day he told me he couldn’t play with a particular toy because “it was for girls”.
There are other great posts about stereotyping in boys clothing http://www.achilleseffect.com/boys-clothing-the-brat/ showing t-shirts that depict boys as lazy, rebellious, and other negative stereotypes.
What initially got me planning my unisex childrenswear brand was so that girls do not have to wear pretty pink clothes, with butterflies and glitter. But actually I owe it to boys (and my son too) that not all boys are strong, naughty, aggressive, and tough. This has all reinforced my idea that creating unisex clothes for kids with no messages (subliminal or otherwise) on them is the right path.
Reference: The Achilles Effect http://www.achilleseffect.com/blog/ [6th Jan 3017]