Gender-Neutral Toys: Experts And Parents Discuss How Toys Encourage Stereotypes (VIDEO)


Should we blame toy makers for teaching kids that "blue is for boys" and "pink is for girls" at an early age? Or is it OK to market toys to specific genders because of demand? HuffPost Live host Nancy Redd recently spoke with parents and toy trend expert Reyne Rice about these long-running debates.

Leslie Heister joined the conversation to discuss a recent blog post she wrote about hating pink. Though her daughter is only 11 months old, and not particular about toy purchases s yet, Heister has trouble finding baby clothing that isn't pink. Keri Wilmot, who has an almost-3-year-old boy, shared Leslie's frustrations. Beyond apparel, Wilmot said that she finds all toy "kitchen items" are pink and girly as well, which is unrealistic.

Many toy makers are unapologetic about their choices to divide toys by gender, Rice explained. Their rationale tends to be that if girls show a greater interest in pink sparkly things, they're going to continue making princess gear and targeting a female audience with it. But, she added, it is certainly OK for boys to select those toys and for girls to opt for "rough and tough" products. "Let kids be who they want to be," she said.

The group agreed that children should not be taught to associate gender with colors. "If you don't ever teach them that pink is for girls and blue is for boys, I don't think they'd ever come to that decision on their own," Heister said.

But, as we learned last December, some youngsters notice the toy divide at an early age. Four-year-old Riley Maida thinks toy marketers should stop forcing "pink stuff" on girls because girls like superheroes too, and footage of her ranting about sexism went viral.

Select retailers are defying the norm when it comes to toy marketing. London's famous department store, Harrods, made a splash when they unveiled a toy department separated by theme instead of gender. But despite their efforts, the HuffPost Live guests agreed that many sellers don't offer neutral options. Young kids are learning that specific toys and colors are meant for individual genders.

What do you think? Share your thoughts on whether toy makers are responsible for perpetuating gender stereotypes in the comments.