If you have ever ventured into a toy isle in a department store, you can see the common theme of toys separated by gender.
Years ago it was more prevalent than in today’s society, with toy manufactures and stores taking strides to end segregating toys by gender. It still stands though, that toy manufacturers can have an immense influence on the minds of young children, more specifically their expectations of beauty, gender roles, and how they perceive themselves in life. Even before a child is born, their world is shaped into pinks or blues. It is an inescapable truth of how our society has designated gender by color. When a child is introduced to gender specific toys, it forces stereotypes that will affect them into their adult lives. For example, young girls are often taught that dolls, play kitchens, and costumes are only for girls.
While teaching girls to care for their dolls can introduce empathy and responsibility early on, it can also have negative physiological effects. Barbie, a fashion doll, can create unrealistic and unhealthy goals for young girls to strive towards. In “The Ugly Truth of Beauty” by Dave Barry, he states, “Girls grow up playing with a doll proportioned such that, if it were a human, it would be seven feet tall and weigh 81 pounds, of which 53 pounds would be bosoms.” This is an obscene and dangerous standard forced upon women from childhood. Presenting young girls with these standards could be attributed to the start of self-esteem issues for young girls; i.e. not being able to physically represent what they are being taught is “perfection” in today’s society.
Young boys also have an enormous amount of pressure to emulate the masculine features of their toys. They are often presented with sports equipment, action figures, guns and toy vehicles. Action figures that often display shirtless characters with perfectly chiseled abs and pectorals.