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Pink Girls and Blue Boys?

June 24th, 2014 | Posted by Sam Ireland in Bigjigs Toys

You may not be aware but today is Fairy Day.  Those that choose to celebrate it are likely to see more female fairies than male ones, along with lots of pinks and purples – paraded on a range of pink dolls, pink costumes and pink accessories. In recent years, it has been highly publicised through campaigns such as Let Toys Be Toys, that particular colour or themed toys should not be marketed at specific genders.

In a lot of retail stores there have been pink sections of playthings aimed at girls, comprising dolls, handbags, jewellery and all manner of other ‘girly’ items in pink and purple colours.  At the same time, boys have been targeted through cars, action figures and roleplay weapons, usually in darker shades such as blues and greens.

magnetic talk

To some, this is blatant gender-specific marketing that is having a detrimental effect on our children and should not be allowed. One organisation that shares this feeling is the Pink Stinks movement, started by a pair of mums back in 2008 with the aim of confronting the “damaging messages that bombard girls through toys, clothes and media.” Founders, Abi and Emma Moore, were frustrated by the gender-segregated products aimed at young children and wanted to make a stand against the pretty, passive girls’ products which they feel “promotes a dangerously narrow definition of what it means to be a girl.” Abi Moore stated in an article for The Guardian in 2009 that ‘pinkification’ “sets them (girls) on a journey, at a very, very early age. It’s a signpost, telling them that beauty is more valued than brains; it limits horizons, and it restricts ambitions.”

Some retailers have responded to pressure put on them by campaigns such as Pink Stinks and Let Toys Be Toys. Toy giant Hamley’s, have recently scrapped their pink and blue colour coded floors after they were accused on Twitter of “gender apartheid” and Sainsbury’s updated their dressing-up clothes to a range of unisex items after they found themselves in the spotlight.

BJT016-lIt was shortly after the end of the Second World War that the pink-girl and blue-boy colour coding really took off, which critics say was a result of the retail industry wanting to make more money by differentiating between boy and girl products.

The crux of the issue seems to be whether colour preferences are purely natural or learned through outside influences.  Some studies seem to show that girls are drawn to toys such as dolls and household roleplay toys, while boys are attracted to more physical games and toys with moving parts.  Perhaps by offering a choice of colours and themes gender marketing will be a thing of the past.

Fairy Town Train Set

Here at Bigjigs we like to think that we provide toys that appeal equally to boys and girls. For us, toys should encourage imaginative play, cognitive development, be good quality, safe and of course, fun. Whether they’re pink or blue doesn’t really come in to it.  In the long years that the company has been going we’ve found that boys enjoy our kitchen roleplay toys just as girls do, and that girls are as happy as boys  when playing with blue magnetic trains.

We fully understand this is a contentious issue but we would really love to hear your thoughts and feelings on the subject – to ensure that we rectify any mistakes we have made in the past and to ensure that we continue on the correct course in the future.

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15 Responses

  • Having only a boy, I’ve gone out of my way to make sure he has kitchen play items, shopping basket, till and food and a tea set. Yes, predominately he loves trains, construction toys and tractors. But he will just as happily have a teddy bear’s picnic and play shops. He’s 4 and half and I have a feeling that ‘peer pressure’ will prevail as he starts school. It’s a shame. It’s somehow acceptable for a girl to play with trains (and yes I still do now!) but not for a boy to play with dolls.
    I’m not a fan of ‘everything pink’. I hated pink as a child and if I had a daughter I’d have certainly steered away from pink and bought items in primary colours, That’s just my opinion.

  • Tina Smith says:

    I have both boys and girls, as my children grew they would choose toys that they enjoyed, it did not matter what colour they were, or the gender that they were aimed at, although my boys preffered cars, dinosaurs, trains, rockets etc they would also play house and with dolls acting out the roll of a Daddy, just as my girls would choose to play house and dolls, they also loved to play with cars, trains and dinosaurs etc.

  • Dawn says:

    I have two girls. One of whom prefers dolly/tea parties, dress up. The other likes digging for worms in the mud. I personally try to pick a balanced variety of toys to encourage freedom of choice. We have a lot of pink toys, but we also have dinosaurs, batman jumpers and pirate ships. Children should be free to play how they wish and there is nothing wrong in boys playing with prams!.

  • Maddi says:

    I have a 2 year old boy and a baby girl. My son loves trains, cars, kitchens, tea sets, prams and balls, basically a whole range of toys. He also loves pink and chose a hot pink potty over a blue one. I do think that gendered marketing limits children’s choices and steers them in certain directions and that boys are affected as well as girls. I’d really like to see less gender specific toys, food and books.

  • Ashleigh says:

    As a parent and a toy retailer I fully back the Let Toys Be Toys campaign. It’s important to realise the colours pink and blue do no damage in themselves, problems occur when retailers specifically state that a pink or blue toy is for a specific gender, or that any toy, regardless of colour, is for a specific gender or only give the option of pink and blue which suggests a gender segregation. It’s great to see Bigjigs using photographs of girls playing with a neutral coloured train set (as they do all over the world) online, but I would still love to know why the Pink Engine of your website includes the line “girls play with trains too!” Thus specifically stating that the toy, and the colour, are aimed at female children. Why is your girl train whistle pink and you boy train whistle blue? Why does your girls dressing puzzle include exclusively stereotypical colours? Why do your roll rattles only come in pink or blue? Why do you only appear to have pink dolls prams,high chairs and dolls cots despite very few real life items being pink? I could go on… This blog post highlights a really important issue, and if Bigjigs are committed to considering this then I look forward to seeing a change in their products, marketing and attitudes!

    • Boggle says:

      Thanks for your comments Ashleigh. As you point out, there are a few of our products that could be less gender-colour specific and we will be using this sort of feedback to influence our future product design updates and new product development. We do try to ensure that the hundreds of products we sell avoid gender stereotypes, but there are some items that still need some work to achieve this.

  • My partner and I have 4 boys, 3 girls. When they were younger two of the girls loved anything pink and fluffy, and one hated it. Now they’re teenagers only one likes pink and the other two despise it.
    Two of my boys are colour blind, and red/pink stand out to them as being very different colours to everything else. I think partly because there are so many of us and we’ve always taught the children they can be whoever they want, there’s support there for everybody, and my 5 year old son will happily and confidently tell anyone that bright pink is his favorite colour. When people sneer at him or pass comment he has the confidence to tell them it’s beautiful and looks best. I hope he doesn’t ever bow down to peer pressure. He would definitely choose a pink train set for aesthetic reasons, but he’d be put off by the ‘Princess’ angle 🙂

  • And on a wider scale – I spent 3 years in College studying Child Psychology and nature/nurture – but real life has shown me without any doubt that actually on the whole iy’s absolutely true that boys lik things with engines and wheels, and computer games, competitive things much more than girls, and girls will play at nurturing more than boys. All 7 children have had access to everything – boys play differently to girls. They’ll all play with a doll’s house or dolls, but boys will have ‘fires’ and emergencies and tie string to characters to make them climb on the roof, and girls will recreate far more everyday events such as ‘eating tea’ or ‘having a baby’ 😀

  • Simple Si says:

    I’ve mellowed as my children have grown, but as the Dad of a 3 year old girl & 1 year old boy there’s a lot I find hard to love about the Big Jigs pink trainset.

    Pink, not a bright pink but mainly pastel pink. Tick.

    Princess crowns. Tick.

    Flowers everywhere. Tick

    Fairies. Only female fairies. Tick. (Do fairies reproduce asexually?)

    Only photos showing only girls playing with it. Not siblings. Tick.

    I’m sorry Big Jigs. You may have dropped the words “for girls,” but the message is clear. This isn’t just a train for kids who happen to like pink. This is a train that it’s “acceptable” for girls to like. I’m sorry I’m not buying it. Surely kids deserve better?

    What makes me feel so strongly about this?

    I was looking for a train set for my kids to share as my daughter loves the brightly coloured trains in Chugginton, Thomas the Tank Engine & when we go to heritage railways. I’d hate for someone to suggest that she should have to choose the girl’s train set (as a shop assistant did to me. That’s limiting her choices. We might buy a different Big Jigs trainset, but we’ll give this one a wide berth.

  • CrisC says:

    I have a 2.5 year old boy who steered towards cars and train toys by himself. We bought him primary coloured gender neutral toys until about a year old when he expressed a desire to play with anything that had wheels and could be pushed (such as turning his walker upside down to play with just the wheels) It was completely his choice, but his interests are varied as he gets older. His train sets are his one true love, but he has a toy kitchen and tea set which he plays with every day and enjoys crafts and making cakes with me too. Now I have a baby girl arriving in a few months and plan to adopt the same approach, but fear it will be difficult. Have already asked my mother not to buy baby doll toys until such an interest is expressed. Don’t see a need for an all pink train set like the one featured in the image on this blog. It perpetuates the belief that girls toys should be pretty and pink, that if a girl god forbid like trains then okay, here’s an acceptable option. Why should there be more pink train accessories available than any other colour? If my son or daughter asks for a pink train, there should be the option to buy some, but entire sets in pink send the wrong message, in my opinion. Also dislike toys that only come in blue or pink, would really like a larger range of colour options please.

  • Travis says:

    I really don’t like to have gender-specifics with the toys I bought for my children. I want either children could enjoy the joy of playing with the toys I bought. All of the children has the right to play any toys they want, they shouldn’t be feel restricted because of gender-specifics. I am also a seller of toys and I made sure that the toys I am selling are unisex. I’m trying to eliminate gender specifics toys in my life.



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