Toys ‘R’ Us Terminates Gender! Is This the End of Pinks and Blues?

baby with pink and blue balloons

On September 4th, U.K.’s Toys “R” Us announced that its toys will no longer be labeled “boys” and “girls.”

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It looks like red and white may be the new pink and blue! If you have a girly girl, or a manly boy, this announcement may come as a stressful surprise for you. However, if your girl is more of a tomboy, or if your little man has a stronger, more nourishing maternal flair, you may cheer at this news. 

As campaigns, like Let Toys Be Toys, push to end gender separation, I wonder if this will really help to solve the problem these companies are focusing on. As the parent of an extreme girly girl, who seemed to enter this world with glitter and ruffles attached at the umbilical cord, this movement will truly disappoint. I did not encourage the pink – cross my heart – yet the sparkles continue to infiltrate our home at full speed. They were sneakily added to her blue bedroom walls via stickers and glue. They were demanded as polish on tiny toenails. They were cried for as bejeweled clothing and accessories. I recently caved in completely and surprised her with hot pink trim in an effort to avoid any additional covert beautification plans she might have in that shimmering mind. Would I love for her to explore the larger world of electronics and engineering? Sure! But her desire for these things is Zippity-zilch-Zero.

This is not by my own doings. As a child, I climbed trees, scraped knees, and chose to wear pieces of my brother’s hand-me-down clothing. It wasn’t until a college roommate suggested that I paint my ugly, bare toenails that I even considered it as a desirable option.

“New standards will be set for in-store signage and images will show children of both genders playing with the same toys,” according to this article. And the push for gender unification doesn’t end at toy stores. The video below shows how the company GoldieBlox is pushing for this change as well.

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A 2010 study by Melissa Hines, Professor of Psychology at Cambridge University, stated that “toys, which foster critical learning, cognitive development, and social skills, may explain sex differences in the adult brain when they are designed to be gender-specific … females tend to be better writers, while males excel at spatial tasks—in particular, the ability to mentally rotate an object. Pink toys designed to foster language skills may discourage boys from similar opportunities, whereas boys may be acquiring critical spatial skills from blocks and other ‘boy toys.’”

Though, other experts have debunked this, saying, “It lacks evidence. Adult men and women have characteristic neuroanatomical differences, though [it] is likely due to nature over nurture.”

Whether the major male/female characteristics are developed due to nature or nurture, the differences are certainly clear. Will taking away the girl and boy aisles at toy stores help improve the avoidance of gender-specific roles? Will it become more socially acceptable for boys to play with dolls? Will girls flock to remote-controlled cars and building blocks? In my personal opinion, the answer is no. Not unless we are going to retrain everyone’s mindset world-wide. There will still be fathers who abhor the idea of their sons playing dress-up and house, regardless of which aisle the toys came from and their color. And there will always be mothers who opt to enroll their daughters in ballet, instead of football. And as these parents influence their children, those children will develop opinions, which will affect their classmates.

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The issue is not color choice – blues and pinks replaced with red and white – nor is it whether or not a store is organized by theme instead of gender. The issue is social. Perhaps this movement will help unify the genders and close the gap between them … but … I can’t help thinking about the fact that there ARE two unique, specific genders: male and female. Why not celebrate our differences while still encouraging and supporting exploration, teaching tolerance, kindness, and acceptance along the way, instead of erasing our genders completely and pushing to become a nation of “its,” who play with it-gendered toys?

Perhaps that's putting it too harshly … and a bit close-minded of me. I just don't know that we should be worried about whether or not a pink toy or blue toy defines our child one way or another. Can't our children, boys and girls, like blues AND pinks, dolls AND tool belts, without adults telling them to get out of the wrong aisle, but also without us taking the masculine and feminine genders away entirely? 

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{ MORE:  Gender-neutral Term to Replace the Words for ‘Mother’ and ‘Father’ }

I think I just feel that we are so focused on gender “terms” that we are missing out on opportunities to discuss the deeper issues, which certainly exist. You can put Band-Aids on boo-boos, but that wont stop your child from falling over and getting hurt again.

Do you support the movement to end gender labels on toys, or do you prefer and support the separation? 

 

What do you think?

Toys ‘R’ Us Terminates Gender! Is This the End of Pinks and Blues?

Kimberly Shannon is a wife, a mother, an editor, a writer ... She is always working to find the perfect balance¹! After Kimberly received her bachelor’s degree in Journalism, she worked on two master’s degree programs (Creative Writing, and Marriage and Family Therapy). At various times in her life she has signed up to study Naturopathy, only to back out at the last minute, and humored the idea of returning full-time to the world of dance. Kimberly has also started 10 different children ... More

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10 comments

  1. Angela says:

    When the ultrasound technician couldn’t tell us for certain we w were expecting a girl, I was happy. That meant I could legitimately ask for gender neutral baby shower gifts. I want my daughter to love all colors and not to be surrounded by pink princesses. I love the idea of playing dress up but I also want to her to play in the dirt and watch football with me.
    We still got a lot of pink things, but we got lots of greens, yellows, and even some blue things too. And she has already started watching football at 6 weeks old.

  2. Anthony says:

    Just found out my wife and I are having a girl today… I hope this is true. We both hate pink!

  3. KEIYONDA says:

    THIS IS A SUBJECT THAT WILL NEVER BE DECIDED. EVERYONE DEALS WITH THIS ISSUE WITH THEIR CHILD DIFFERENTLY. SOME ARE FOR IT SOME ARE AGAINST IT. IT EVEN CAN VERY WITH A CHILD’S OWN MOM AND DAD. LONG LIVE THIS ISSUE.

  4. Abby says:

    I absolutely love how you but it. There are two unique genders and they should be celebrated. My 1 year old girl is Minnie and Mickey all the way so we have toys with Minnie AND Mickey on them. I plan to build the girls a tool bench as well as a play kitchen and a grill. It really is the parents view points and no matter what some big store says or does they will not change that. My girls will know that girls can fix things (use tools around the house and the car) and boys can cook and clean because their dad and I do both tasks. There are not Male and Female tasks around our house. However, this doesn’t change the fact that my daughter love Minnie mouse and ruffles and baby girl loves pooh bear and dresses.

  5. Phammom says:

    I like the gender neutral for the big stuff so you can use it for more then one child but I think separation is important.

  6. Debbie says:

    dont think it really matters but i like the pinks and blues myself lol

  7. nichole says:

    personally, gender seperation or not, its all what the parents have in their mind. i personally grew up playing with cars just as well as barbies. and so far, both of my girls are too. they both have been crazy over dinos, and dirt, and bugs, while also wanting their nails painted and to wear dresses. i am curently expecting a boy, and while i cant say ide be happy with him at 5 years old running into school with pink frilly dresses on, if he wants to join his sisters and play with monster high dolls, or even play dress up with their dresses, its all good to me. and stores being less boy/girl wouldnt effect my mindset. i think its a good idea tho, defiently, adults need to stop being all thats for boys thats for girls on toys. i have listen to family complane about my girls playing with trucks. but im not sure a stores makeup would change their minds either…..

  8. Diana says:

    i think it is a good idea too.

  9. I LOVE the new GoldieBlox that are geared towards getting girls to enjoy more thought provoking toys that lead to careers in engineering and science. Interesting read…I’m not sure how I feel about it. I think taking out the gender is a good thing, but I also agree with celebrating our uniqueness – as people and as boys and girls, so maybe a little of both? It shouldn’t have to be all one way or all the other, right?

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