It’s high time for gender stereotyping of toys to be stopped. There’s always a distinction when it comes to toys – cars for boys, dolls for girls, etc. There is no specific or logical reason for why toys are gendered.
If you take a look at the toys a girl owns, she will have a collection of dolls, Barbie dolls for example, a kitchen set, makeup set etc. And a boy will own cars, robots, BB guns, etc. Kids at a young age are already assigned toys to play with. A girl who plays with the ‘feminine’ toys gets the ideals that a female should be beautiful, kind and manage a household. The boys are encouraged to play rough, the ideals of fearless and strong ingraining in them. Girls and boys see the toys marketed for the opposite sex as not suitable for them to play with.
A child’s understanding of gender roles begin at a young age. It influences their character and how they develop bonds later on as adults. Toys are a main element of childhood. But often, it is parents who decide what type of toy their child should play with. They select a toy based on the gender of the child and belief that they will enjoy the toy regardless. With the division in toys, it is quite clear that discrimination exists between females and males.
Not only are toys divided based on gender, it is also divided based on colour. The same toy could appear in blue and pink and a parent would pick the blue for a boy or pink for the girl. There is already a notion that some colours are ‘girly’ and boys shouldn’t associate with such colours, and so on.
When lines are drawn too strictly with toys, a child’s world is narrowed. A child is supposed to explore and discover, which helps them to find their interests and a possible career scope. But instead, they’re limited.
Childhood is the time when children learn skills and how to interact. With limitations placed on them based on gender, it reinforces stereotypes and limits their horizons. Experimenting with toys and such would enable them to think about themselves (identity) and discover choices and possibilities.
We can encourage kids to have diversity in their interests and skills, starting with toys. Allowing children to choose which toy they want to play with, regardless of who the toy is marketed to or what colour it is, is a first and minor step. Gender-neutral toys would be more beneficial than harmful. Toys that cater to both genders without discrimination would promote healthy development and mindsets, which would be useful in their adulthood.