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.
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.
It 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.
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.