Should We Still Have Pink and Blue Toys


The issue of gender specific toys has been under much debate over the last few years.  It is a very emotive subject and for every parent who disagrees with the whole pink and blue issue, there is another who is happy with it.  The issue can raise strong and opposing opinions. 


Over recent decades, more and more women have entered the labour force and the average gender wage gap has narrowed, and men have taken on more duties in the home. However, at the same time children’s toys have increasingly become segregated by gender and many toys that were traditionally made in gender neutral colours are being manufactured in pink and blue. 

The campaign group Let Toys be Toys has convinced many major retailers to remove ‘girls’ and ‘boys’ signage on toy displays and more and more retailers are now organizing toys by subject and interest rather than gender.  At Best Years we have never categorized our toys by gender.  We prefer to categorise them as dinosaur toys, or seaside toys etc. but at least half of our range has a pink and blue option.  Whatever our own views are on colour, we cannot ignore fact that the market likes to have pink and blue toys, as well as other options that can be considered gender neutral.  For the first time this year, we have introduced the option of a pink and blue dinosaur toy to compliment the bright coloured range and this gives choice for parents and children alike.   

At Best Years, we can see the arguments from both sides and also see the issue from a retailer’s and a parent’s point of view.  Whilst we do not like to see gender stereotyping and girls only being given toys that are considered suitable for girls, ultimately there comes a point where a child will only play with the toys that interest them. I soon learnt as a parent that it didn’t matter what I thought, it was my child who was choosing what to play with and what to leave in the toy box. Toys that I thought would be a big hit, often turned out to be those that were destined to lurk at the bottom of the pile.  To us it is all about choice. 

Although there are some girls who are very girly and will only wear pink and play with dolls and some boys who want to only play with guns and fight, most children sit somewhere between the two extremes and we try to provide a range of toys to fulfill their needs.  There is an assumption that for a boy to like a doll it must be macho and military but this is not the case.  As soon as we categorise something as a boys or girls toy, we not only narrow the choice of toys available but we also narrow the child’s perception about their choices in life.  Do we want to give out the message that the military is only for boys?  Or by putting arts and crafts sets in a girl’s section, we are giving out the message that creativity is just for girls. 

Toys should enourage imaginative play. It is not up to us to say dinosaur toys are for boys and dolls are for girls, each child can decide themselves what toys they are interested in. This could mean a boy only wanting our cowboy doll and a girl only wanting our pink dinosaur toy, but it could also mean two friends playing with the fairy and pirate dolls irrespective of their gender.

We hope that we offer a sufficiently wide choice of colours and characters in each of our ranges to have something to appeal to every child. It certainly won't be us deciding who plays with what and how, which is why we don't categorise our toys by gender.  What do you think?

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