Last Updated on December 23, 2019 by Danielle
Is the Toy Industry ready to break with gender stereotyping?
It has been documented that many girls grew up playing with Barbie and their body image suffered as a result. Realistically, how can anybody have body proportions like Barbie’s. Simply put, it’s unrealistic and detrimental to young girls. In fact, research has shown that Barbie’s unrealistic body proportions negatively impact girls’ self-esteem. So what is the solution?
In the wake of declining Barbie sales, Mattel revealed new figures with different body types: tall, petite, and curvy. The game has changed and we’re only beginning to see retailers like Target and Amazon remove gender categorization in their toy aisles. Toy brands, such as Barbie and American Girl, are leveraging girl empowerment as a tool in their marketing strategies and initiatives. Practically every day there are toy startups on Kickstarter teaching STEM ideas and making girl empowerment a central part of their strategy. According to a study, construction toys help to develop motor and spacial skills and an early interest in STEM.
At the heart of the matter is a cultural problem. Gender stereotyping occurs in children’s toys at an early age. This results in a narrow view on what is possible for them. Toys are influential in shaping kids’ views of themselves – what they are good at and what profession they choose in life. So it is time to eliminate these barriers.
Clearly, an industry shift is underway and with proven market demand for empowering toys for girls, the industry has noticed and is beginning to change.
Some examples of empowering cool girl toys include Goldiblox, DC Super Girls, Roominate, littlebits, Wonder Workshop, A Mighty Girl, Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls, JewelBots, Hello Ruby, and Go! Go! Sport Girls.
Some parents may be frustrated with the choices of dolls available for young girls. Many dolls in the aisle have short skirts, cropped tops, belly button rings, big hair, and makeup. Not too many parents would want their daughter to look or act like this. We need to send a different message to our young girls. Girls need to be encouraged to use their brains and bodies in a healthy manner. We certainly don’t want young girls to feel they have to look or act a certain way.
For many years, the toy industry has been mired in the past, promoting gender stereotypes that don’t resonate with today’s young girls and parents. This shift toward more empowering characters and toys for girls and boys is a step in the right direction and it will only become stronger in the coming years. Young girls should be free to feel confident, happy, and be what they want to be.