'No Gender Stereotype December' Urges Retailers To Rethink Marketing Strategies For Children

03/12/2015 6:18 AM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
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Girl in Toy Store

Dolls are for girls, trucks are for boys -- right? Well, no, not necessarily. Each child is an individual and department stores -- as well as parents -- should take this into consideration in the lead up to Christmas.

This is the argument behind No Gender Stereotypes December, an Australian grassroots campaign from advocacy group Play Unlimited, aimed at eliminating the segregation of toys along gender lines.

The issue has gained significant traction recently, with Target in the US announcing plans to stop using gendered marketing and, last year, President Barack Obama choosing to place a t-ball set and a basketball into the "girls" pile at the annual Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots event. (At around the same time, Australia's then-Prime Minister Tony Abbott famously declared "let boys be boys, let girls be girls" but that's another story.)

No Gender Stereotype December encourages retailers and consumers alike to think outside the box when it comes to children and the toys they play with.

"Kids should be able to come up with their own ideas about what their own capabilities are," co-founder Thea Hughes told The Huffingon Post Australia.

"Rather than having toys marketed in a way that uses gender stereotypes to categorise whether a certain product is suitable for girls or boys."

The awareness campaign, launched in 2014 to mixed responses, has garnered the support from some notable figures, including Greens Senator Larissa Waters, academic Dr Christia Brown and author Lori Day.

"We really want to raise awareness with parents to stop and think before they bought something gender specific for their children," Hughes continued.

"That's not to say dolls and trucks shouldn't be available -- after all, each toy creates a different skill set -- but people should take into consideration the individual personalities and needs of their children, rather than just buying a girl a doll because she's a girl."

Child Psychologist Kimberley O'Brien from TheQuirky Kid Clinic, agrees.

"When it comes to Christmas presents, it’s not very forward thinking to just go with pink for girls and blue for boys," she told HuffPost Australia.

"Everyone wants to feel their personal tastes and preferences have been understood and a present wasn’t just picked for them based on their gender.

"I can't stress enough how important it is to follow individual interests. It goes both ways. There's no point buying a girl a truck because you don’t want to be gender biased, when she actually really wanted something else."

So if my #boys would rather play #doctor than #pirate ..? #nogenderdecember

A photo posted by Ronnie S (@memotype) on


As with last year, Hughes is urging campaign supporters to use social media to help spread awareness, using the hash-tag #GiveGiftsNotStereotypes.

You can also record a 30 second video and post it to the campaign's video wall in order to deliver your No Gender December message.

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