The best gift: A chance to grow up without limits.

Decades ago, little girls (my sister and I) were playing with Legos, and they weren’t even pink. We also enjoyed playing with trucks, and dressing up in mom’s old prom dress.

My boys have found cars, trucks and construction toys under the Christmas tree. They’ve also found craft supplies. They like to build, and do art! Imagine that. One of them was into baking one year, and he received an electric mixer. He was delighted.

Boys and girls are individuals, with a wide range of interests. So why then, more than 100 years after Marie Curie won the Nobel Prize in physics,* are we seeing advertising like this?

Photo of Toys R Us catalog courtesy of Pigtail Pals

At Pigtail Pals, Melissa Wardy’s primary research found that in toy catalogs for major retailers, the message to children was overwhelmingly gender-stereotyped, as reflected in this photo.

This is a problem.

Research on the educational value of toys shows gender stereotyping in the production and marketing of toys has become extreme, and it’s having an impact on how and what children learn.

“…go into any toy shop and you will find separate aisles, and even separate floors, for girls and boys,” says Becky Francis, professor of education at Roehampton University. “The packaging is geared towards either boys or girls by colour, wording and the images portrayed on them. This creates the impression that certain toys are just for boys and others just for girls, and so some toys are completely out of bounds.”

Ms. Magazine explains why Gendering Toys is Good for Nobody:

“By the time they are in elementary school, children are well aware of which colors and products are intended for them. Their choices have been severely limited by the adults around them…”

To see how toy marketing enforces gender stereotypes, take a look at this terrific deconstructivist video.

And, from Pink Stinks, “Sugar and spice and all things nicely stereotyped.

You’ll love this cartoon at Marinagraphy, which sums it up nicely.

Then, for some ideas on where it’s safe to shop for your future well-rounded offspring, go back to Pigtail Pals for these shopping tips.

This holiday season, let’s not limit our kids.

*12/10/1903: Marie Curie becomes the 1st woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize. 8 yrs later, she would receive another.This fact courtesy of @ShelbyKnox, via Twitter.
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