Toys R Us Goes Gender-Neutral, In The UK At Least – UPDATE About US Stores

Toys R Us announced today that they’ll be taking a huge step toward breaking down the barriers of gender bias endemic in the toy industry. Realizing that boys and girls like and play with the same toys, they’re going to start marketing them that way.

In the Uk, that is.

From now on, all Toys R Us stores in the UK will no longer have signs denoting “Boys’ Toys” and “Girls’ Toys” sections and all advertising will feature children of both genders playing with toys traditionally considered gender-specific.

Let Toys Be Toys, a UK-based lobbying group that focuses on gender-neutrality in toys, is thrilled with the development.

“We’re delighted to be working so closely with a major toy retailer and believe there is much common ground here. Even in 2013, boys and girls are still growing up being told that certain toys are ‘for’ them, while others are not.

 

This is not only confusing but extremely limiting, as it strongly shapes their ideas about who they are and who they can go on to become. We look forward to seeing Toys R Us lead the way to a more inclusive future for boys and girls.”

Toys R Us has already made the move toward gender-neutral advertising in Sweden, which led to adorable ads like these.

blowdry Spidey

As of press time, we have not received on whether Toys R Us would be making this same switch in America. We’ll keep you posted.

UPDATE – 9/9

Toys R Us replied to our email. This is their response.

Thanks for your inquiry below regarding gender portrayals at our stores in the U.S.

There are no gender-specific toy sections in our U.S. stores.  Toys are merchandised by product category, so customers can easily see the breadth of assortment.  All learning toys, for example, (from a variety of manufacturers) are merchandised together.  The same is true for all categories, including sports toys, pre-school toys, construction sets (ie:  LEGO and MegaBrands), bikes, dolls, arts and crafts, action figures, musical instruments and more.  With regards to advertising, Toys“R”Us regularly features girls and boys playing with all different types of toys.

 

In 2011, the company’s efforts to portray gender equally were noted by Gifts and Decorative Accessories, an industry trade publication.  In his review of the 2011 Great Big Toys“R”Us Book, our annual holiday catalog, author Richard Gottlieb states, “For starters, ‘The Big Toys R Us Book’ had more gender equity than any of the others I reviewed. It contains 93 pictures of boys and 83 of girls; 47% of the images were female. That number is close to parity and looks pretty good compared to the ratios in the other catalogs that ran from 17% for Sears, 34% for Kmart, 36% for Wal-Mart and 37% for Target….Well, if you look on page 67 in this year’s catalog you will find police car driven by a girl with a boy passenger. Not only that, there are twelve pictures of ride-ons in this year’s book and riding in them are 9 boys and 11 girls. When you figure that Sears, Kmart and Wal-Mart showed zero girls in cars, that is quite a statement.”

 

At Toys“R”Us, we understand that children have many diverse interests, and we consistently strive to portray that in our aisles and in our advertising materials.

 

While I applaud their near gender parity in advertising (seriously, that’s a big deal), I do have to point out that this is a picture of a TRU in Philadelphia.

IMG_20130909_134821

It’s true there are no signs that say “Boys’ Toys” or “Girls’ Toys” but the toys that are traditionally for one gender or the other are color-coded with a photo of either a boy or a girl on the sign.

Skott Stotland is a thousand monkeys in a man suit. He has been writing for the internet for over a decade.

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