Stand Strong Girls

Archive for the tag “Hamleys”

M&S to rebrand toys

You may remember a post I did some time ago about the sexist marketing of the toys in Hamleys. Hamleys are certainly not the only shop to sell gender specific toys; some shops seem to be doing more to change it than Hamleys.

Marks and Spencer have recently announced their intention to rebrand two of their children’s toy ranges so that all of their toys are gender neutral by spring 2014. The two ranges to be rebranded are ‘Lil’ Miss Arty’ and ‘Boys Stuff’. These two ranges are both currently marketed as being for either boys or girls. The rebranding will see Lil’ Miss Arty turn into Poppy and Blue while ‘Boys Stuff’ will use a simple graphic logo. The decision was apparently made several months ago but was only made public this month.

                                                     M&S Toys:

Lil’ Miss Arty: includes fairies, princesses and a handbag decoration kit.

Boy’s Stuff: includes planes, a pop-up fire station, racing cars, dinosaurs and a marble run.

I’ll update you soon to tell you how the rebranding is going and what the new packaging looks like.

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The ‘pink and blue effect’ on young children

Vtech 'KidiWatch'. This toy is not advertised as being for a specific gender.

Vtech ‘KidiWatch’

A Vtech 'KidiWatch'. This product is advertised on the Hamleys website as being for girls

Vtech ‘KidiWatch’ Girl

During my visit to Hamleys I was particularly shocked by the section for babies and young children. A large portion of this section was taken up with electric gadgets for young children. These gadgets are versions of laptops, watches, tablets etc with games on them to encourage the learning of letters, numbers, colours and other things like that. A lot of the gadgets like this that Hamleys stock are from a company called Vtech. Many of the Vtech products that I looked at were designed to be used by children from a very early age and most of them are either pink or blue.

Introducing colour to children from a young age is very important for their development and this is why children’s toys are often produced in bright, bold colours. So really, producing toys in pink and blue has two potential problems, firstly that the shades used are often pastel and not primary, and secondly that young children are often encouraged to associate themselves with one of two particular colours and are not encouraged to explore the wide range of colour that is available.

Several examples of the lack of primary colours could be seen, I have chosen one to illustrate my point. On a shelf of soft toys, the type that are given to a baby at birth there was a soft toy of the rabbit character, Miffy. Miffy features in picture books for very young children written by Dick Bruna. She is usually depicted in bright primary colours, this toy was pink.

An extra point that I will make here is that it really doesn’t matter whether a toy is blue or pink as long as it entertains and educates a child in someway, after all, that is the purpose of toys. They are not to teach you that you have a place in society that doesn’t really exist.

I think that the Vtech issue is one that Hamleys would do well to look into. It is actually a bit silly that they stock such sexist items considering that their own brand is fairly equal and balanced. Another problem with these sexist items is that they teach children that there are many barriers between girls and boys. There are of course differences between the two genders, but these should be taught so that children understand them and understand that they are merely differences and not things that should prevent us from talking and being friends with members of the other sex.

The Beauty Corner at Hamleys

This post and one or two more are going to be focused on stereotyping through the medium of toys. The theme of this post is the Beauty Corner in the Hamleys, the toy shop at Dundrum. Note the words toy shop. The Beauty Corner contains toys, yes, but it also sells hair accessories, nail polish, hand cream and hair brushes. A hair brush is not a toy, hair clips aren’t toys either and yet children are being encouraged to buy them or ask for them.

The toys that can  be found in this section of the shop are very limited. There is an entire section filled with shelves of Barbies and other dolls. A lot of them are wearing dresses and this is not a realistic interpretation of 21st century girls. Here  we come up against our old enemy (when attached to girls), pink. The colour scheme of the entire section is pink

The next problem is that of the dressing-up costumes. There is a whole wall displaying only net tutu style princess and fairy costumes. And just for the record, I’m not condemning these costumes, I owned two such dresses when I was younger and got no end of pleasure out of wearing them. But I really don’t think that there is any need for a whole wall of them. There are other dress-up costumes on offer but they are all extremely sexist. The pirate costume has a skirt in it and the girl advertising it in the picture manages to look extremely glamorous in it. There was a beautician outfit as well and a cowgirl who is also made up to look very attractive.

Another issue is that of the princess and fairy influence. A lot of the games, costumes, bags and other products in this section had images of princesses and fairies on them. Another very common theme is Hello Kitty and Hamleys stock so many Hello Kitty products that it commands several shelves all to itself.

The last issue that I will mention is the nail polish bar that has been set up at the entrance to the ‘girls’ section. There were two female members of staff running this bar when I was there. They were offering to paint the nails of or do glitter tattoos on any girls that came to the section. I heard one of them assuring the mother of a young girl who was having a glitter tattoo done that it was perfectly safe, good quality etc. That is not the issue, the issue is that girls are being forced into the realms of personal adornment from a very early age and in this they are often encouraged by their parents. This could potentially increase body image insecurity when they are older. It is up to us as the consumers to make the decision. If people do not buy these types of products and if there is no demand for them manufacturers will be forced to stop producing them. This will then no longer be an issue that could affect developing girls.

 

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