Have you ever seen a toy catalogue like this? Look very closely and you will notice one thing you don’t see in most toy catalogues we see.
Normal representations of life. A little boy playing with a doll, little girls playing builders. Boys pushing prams and girls wielding drills. Isn’t it a shame we are so surprised?
For the second year running, a Spanish toy company is making headlines for producing their toy catalogue with actual real representations of life.
The company Toy Planet told El Pais, the initiative began a few years ago after the company tested a few posters on Twitter and Facebook and received a positive response.
“This is still an unresolved matter in the industry. They've congratulated us a lot, but the support has been more about attitude than about behaviour. It’s still hard going. If communication is not encouraged, it’s hard for someone to take the helm with the changes. Who does it? The families? The companies? It’s like a dog chasing its tail,” he said.
Unfortunately, as to be expected the usual critics have slammed the toy retailer’s move as a stunt saying it’s “politically correct” nonsense and that boys will continue to play with trucks and guns and girls will have tea parties with Barbie and Elsa.
What rot. This shouldn’t even be an issue. It’s not politically correct, it's real life.
On the weekend, I cooked my kid’s dinner and cleaned the house, I mowed the lawn and dashed to the hardware store to get some wall fixtures that I hammered into the kid’s bedrooms. I washed the car and sanded back a few chairs for painting before ironing school uniforms and taking out the garbage.
My kids watched me do each and every task without a word. (They even help.. a bit..) They don’t think twice about Dad cooking dinner or mum pushing the mower around the garden They don’t blink to see their father with a vacuum in his hand or me with screwdriver. They don’t know of “male” jobs and “female” jobs.
So why should they play with certain toys and not others?
When the US retail giant Target announced last year they were eliminating “boys” and “girls” signs from its toys and bedding departments, it created quite a debate. Along with grouping all toys together, the aisles in Target now no longer have coloured backdrops to indicate gender, such as pink and yellow for girls or blue and green for boys.
This little girl wants to know why girls have to always buy Princesses. Post continues after video...
Social media went wild with outraged traditionalist railing against what they saw as (yep wait for the cliché) “political correctness gone mad.” Some even went as far as boycotting the store.
If my children looked through the Toy Planet catalogue, they wouldn’t blink an eye at which child was playing with which toy. They would be more interested in scoring up what they wanted to mark down on their Santa list.
What the nay-sayers need to remember, is that kids will gravitate towards what they want to play with. That’s all good and fine but shouldn’t they be the ones to work it out for themselves?
Sure my daughter will pick up a pink stuffed unicorn before a Tonka truck but don't think she won't drive the unicorn around in the truck should she be given the opportunity.
When sword fighting with her brothers she’s going to be the first to pick up her pink sparkly fairy wand as her weapon of choice but she’ll have a good old go with Darth Vader’s lightsaber when her big brothers hand it over.
What many people fear with gender-neutral toys is that it is that old foe - political correctness... but it's not. It's just sensible marketing. Look around playgroup next time you are there and you will see just as many two-year-old boys playing with the toy kitchen as two-year-old girls.
It’s hard to deny that in the majority of cases their XY and XX chromosomes take over. If my sons are anything to go by, give them a Barbie doll and they will hold her length wise and shoot imaginary bullets out of those jaunty little stilettos but it doesn’t mean we can’t give them options and choices.
Let’s hope Toy Planet’s catalogue inspires Australian toy retailers to follow suit. Not for political correctness but to represent life how it actually is for our kids and to let them have a choice.
What do you think of the Toy Planet catalogue?