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Starting the moment we find out the gender of our child, gender stereotypes are everywhere — especially when it comes to children playing with toys. The toy aisles are divided by gender instead of interest. Shouldn’t toys be used to try new roles, experiment and explore interests whether you’re a boy or a girl?

As parents, we can push our children into the mold and shelter our children from expressing themselves in their own way, OR we can just let them choose for themselves and let them grow into the person they are meant to be.

You can’t deny that from a very early age, children gravitate toward certain types of toys and activities, and some will reject their gender. Our son reaches for a pink and purple grocery cart in the Target toy aisle, gets the My Little Pony toy at McDonald’s and falls in love, or wants to watch “Frozen” for the 4,000,000th time – who are we to deny that? Our daughters want to wear ball caps instead of bows, love the feel of dirt between their toes and would rather pretend to be Superman than a Disney princess – that decision is Theirs. Taking toys that were once created just for boys and offering them in pink isn’t a solve. One company that is trying to disrupt the gender stereotypes is GoldieBlox, which started with a mission to inspire a new generation of female engineers. Now, after a few years, GoldieBlox has made its way onto the shelves of Toys “R” Us, Amazon and more than 1,000 local retailers worldwide. Girls are embracing these toys, and there should be more brands trying to do the same with all toys.

Now let’s look at a very public case of Shiloh “John” Jolie-Pitt. In a 2010 interview with Vanity Fair, her mother, Angelina Jolie, said, “She likes to dress like a boy. She wants to be a boy. So we had to cut her hair. She likes to wear boys’ everything. She thinks she’s one of the brothers.” She has a family that embraces her differences and allows her to be herself in the high-profile nature of their family and — even amid the numerous amounts of public backlash and support.

In the recent Bruce Jenner 20/20 interview, he opened up about his gender struggles and how at 65 years old, he will be transitioning from male to female and he said he finally feels free. It’s time to have more conversations and fewer assumptions.

We praise this country as a melting pot of differences. This should not be just about race or origin but also about children and people who are given the ability to express themselves as individuals. What can marketers do to help this nation of parents embrace their children’s preferences and differences? To continue the conversation, contact Chief Marketing Officer Shaun Stripling at 336.774.9397 or by email.

Elizabeth Bragg About the Author
Elizabeth Bragg Former Account Director

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