When British mom Karen Cole and her daughter Maggie were shopping at chain store Tesco on Saturday, they came across an upsetting sign in the toy aisle. Seven-year-old Maggie loves superheroes, so she was none-too-pleased to see the advertisement for Marvel alarm clocks as a "fun gift for boys."
Mom Karen captured her daughter's displeasure in this spot-on photo tweet:
— Karen Cole (@karlou) November 22, 2014
Clearly, Maggie is not the only person to feel this way about needlessly gendered kids toys. Within days, Karen's photo had gone viral, with over 10,000 retweets and 11,000 favorites.
In a blog post about the sign, Karen writes that she and Maggie had discussed gendered toys before:
Last year she started coming home from school saying some of her friends were suggesting some toys were for girls and some for boys. I explained that they were wrong, if the toy looks fun to play with then anybody should be able to play with it. She could play with knights and dragons (her thing at the time) and boys could play with dolls and kitchens if they wanted to. We agreed that "everybody can like what they want to like."
Karen told The Huffington Post in an email that she sees real harm in classifying children's toys as either "girls'" or "boys'" products. "I wish toys weren't gendered," she said. "I realize most children will choose the toys aimed at them but I firmly believe all children should have the freedom to choose what they'd like and to be free from ridicule or bullying if they don't conform to the gender norms."
In her blog post she adds that children "believe what they're told and if they're constantly seeing signs telling them something is 'for boys' or 'for girls' they may start to believe it, particularly when their peers are also seeing these labels and parroting them at school."
While the mom-of-three daughters didn't expect her photo to go viral, she "wanted to show Maggie that it's worth standing up for what you believe in," she writes, adding, "I do want her to grow up believing people are equal, regardless of their sex, skin colour, race or sexuality, and I want her to feel empowered to stand up for her beliefs."
In this case, standing up for her beliefs paid off. Karen told The Huffington Post that Tesco replied to her tweet, saying they had plans to remove the sign from all of their stores -- a promise later confirmed in an official statement to BuzzFeed.
In the future, if there's any confusion about which toys are for boys and which are for girls, we suggest that toy brands and stores refer to this helpful infographic, designed by Kristen Myers: