Gender Biased Marketing: Heaven Forbid My Daughter Love Trains {LIFE}

I grew up with an older brother, which means I had access to just as many boy toys as I did baby dolls.  I played with cars, climbed trees and made a doll house from an old book shelf and bits of fabric and wallpaper.  No one really made a big deal about what toys I liked more- the trucks versus the dolls.  As a parent and a preschool teacher, I try to give children the same freedom of choice. As long as the toys are safe and age appropriate- play should be child directed and can help build many developmental milestones.

Because my classroom has been stocked with mostly non-branded toys, I had lost track of gender biased marketing of popular toys.  Have I lost you already?  Grab a coffee, switch on a children's channel {Treehouse is one of the channels I have restricted from viewing in our home}and look at the commercials that pop up every 10-20 minutes because of the short programs.  In 30 minutes I saw a number of ads. These are two examples:
A commercial with GIRLS playing with pink, yellow and blue ponies.  This resulted in Princess Destructo pondering; "MOMMY I WHY ARE THOSE PONIES PINK?"
Another ad with BOYS playing with diecast cars on a cool track. Princess asked; "MOMMY WHY ARE BOYS PLAYING WITH CARS LIKE MINE?"
My dilemma as a parent isn't that my child is asking questions that are difficult to answer.  She's only 3, I'm sure we have a lifetime of dialogue and teachable moments ahead.  My issue is that I have a little GIRL that is struggling to find her self-esteem as a GIRL and is already hitting roadblocks. She is in l-o-v-e with Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends.  I believe that Thomas is an excellent role-model for young children. His stories and TV shows usually promote positive social skills and kindness.  

She has a few of the trains and tracks, but wishes for t-shirts, hats, or pyjamas with her favourite character.  Every piece of Thomas wear I have found is made for and marketed to BOYS.  I bought her these pyjamas with a lump in my throat.  The manufacturer was sure to mark BOYS in bold print just in case I didn't already get the hint with the boy cut shirt and boyish colours.  I didn't want to give my hard-earned money to reward the gender-biased marketing.  Since she won't be wearing them in public I relented and let her keep them. I don't plan on making any other clothing purchases with this character, I like to think of it as a silent protest against this type of marketing.

I would love to know- is there any reason on God's green earth why Thomas can't be made into a night gown or sundress?  I'm not even asking for pink or purple, and they can stick to the original train character colours.  Don't give me the line "Our market research shows that boys like Thomas trains more than girls do."  I just sat through a hokey Thomas & Friends live appearance at my local mall and there were just as many little girls in the audience.

Am I making a big deal about nothing? Or can you relate?

Disclosure: This is not a compensated post. It is neither sponsored nor endorsed by any of the brands mentioned within. All opinions remain honest and my own.


Popular Posts