Parents say …

‘My 4 year old daughter is now starting to get self conscious walking into the ‘boys’ section to get her favourite things and it’s heart-breaking to watch.’

‘My girls love Lego, trains, swords and pirates, along with dolls and crafts. They’re getting to an age where they worry about things for girls and boys, and hesitate to play with “boys” toys now as they feel they’re doing wrong. I hate having their options limited by retailers and the media.’

‘My son confessed that he has always wanted a dolls’ house but has always been too embarrassed to ask for one because he thought they were just for girls. He’s 11.’

‘I purchased my godson a beautiful freestanding kitchen for his birthday. His father huffed and moaned about it being a “girl’s toy”’

‘I feel sad because my 5yo daughter … only just realised that some people think girls and outer space don’t go….’

‘I was looking at scooters with my daughter a while back, she was quite happily whizzing up and down the aisle on a blue flashing light type thing when the shop assistant came over and said, ‘here’s a nice girly one for you’ and handed us a clunky Disney Princess heap. My daughter got on it and gave it a try, then handed it back with a look, said ‘it’s too slow’ and got back on the blue one. He looked confused. It’s this kind of interference though that can make kids think they should be a certain way, I hate it.’

Read our blogpost here about how children are affected by gender stereotypes.


  1. Nic

    Santa came to playgroup today. He gave my son a motorbike and a rocket. He gave my daughter a doll in a pink babygrow with a pink potty and a bottle. My daughter who loves motorbikes was upset and argued with my son, who wouldn’t immediately share the toy.

    While I appreciate the gifts from the playgroup, my son and daughter both love motorbikes, rockets and babies. Why are they being treated differently?

    I fear that if I mention my unease at the gender stereotyping, I’ll be seen as ungrateful, but I worry about what my children are gradually learning every time something like this happens.

    Last time their grandparents visited they brought my son a toy robot and my daughter a set of 2 My Little Ponies which came with combs and hair accessories. Again, I felt both grateful and dismayed.

    When my daughter preferred to play with a Spiderman figurine her Aunt told her, ‘No, we don’t like that, that’s yucky – for boys…’ and encouraged her to turn her attention to the ponies’ hairdos. My husband however brought Spiderman back over to ride on a pony, which was a brilliant way, I thought, of dealing with the situation.

  2. Nic

    We are giving our son and daughter gifts from Santa to them both to share, as well as stocking fillers that are not gender stereotyped and reflect their individual interests.

    However, I’m dreading watching them open their presents from other family members – last year my daughter was given a rosebud doll’s house and my son a pirate ship. I appreciate people’s kindness, but I wish that my children were not treated differently because of their gender.

    Frequently when I discuss my concerns about gender stereotyping and the changes I’d like to see in toy/clothing/book industry marketing/advertising etc. I’m met with the ‘If you don’t like it, don’t buy it for your children’ response.

    However I have no control over which toys/clothes/books/films other people bring into my children’s lives and these do influence my children, teaching them that they have separate roles along different gender paths.

    If I was to explain these worries to any of the aforementioned generous gift givers, I’d be seen as ungrateful, a spoilsport or a control freak. Societal peer pressure to conform and to encourage your children to conform is immense.

    That is why industry must change – when marketing and advertising change, attitudes in society will change and children will be freed to be themselves, unlimited by toxic ideas of ‘boys things’ and ‘girls’ things.’

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  1. “You can’t play with that, you’re a girl!” – Geographies of Children & Young People

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