Why should toy guns only be for boys and dolls only for girls? Toy retail giant Toys “R” Us has agreed to stop using gender stereotypes when marketing toys to girls and boys in the UK.
The announcement follows a recent meeting between Toys “R” Us UK board members and Let Toys Be Toys, a consumer campaign group “concerned with the influence on children of sexist stereotypes that are still widely used in the toy industry”.
The move by Toys “R” Us marks a major change in the UK’s toy sales landscape. The company’s Managing Director Roger McLaughlan said, “We very much enjoyed meeting Let Toys Be Toys. We will work with the Let Toys Be Toys team to ensure we develop the best plan for our customers”.
The retailer confirmed that they would draw up a set of principles for in-store signage meaning that, in the long-term, explicit references to gender will be removed and images will show boys and girls enjoying the same toys.
They promised to start by looking at the way toys are represented in their upcoming Christmas catalogue.
This is not the first time Toys “R” Us has been praised for adopting an inclusive approach. Following complaints from school children in Sweden, the Swedish Toys “R” Us franchisee, Top Toy catalogue, set out to move away from sexist stereotypes, and contained photographs of boys and girls in non-traditional roles.
The changes promised by Toys “R” Us follow in the footsteps of similar commitments from several other major retailers including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Boots, The Entertainer and TK Maxx. All have agreed to banish ‘girls’ and ‘boys’ signs from their aisles following intervention by Let Toys Be Toys.
“Even in 2013, boys and girls are still growing up being told that certain toys are ‘for’ them, while others are not,” said Megan Perryman, Let Toys Be Toys campaigner. “This is not only confusing but extremely limiting, as it strongly shapes their ideas about who they are and who they can go on to become. We look forward to seeing Toys “R” Us lead the way to a more inclusive future for boys and girls.”