Don't box us in! Image of boy and girl in pink and blue boxes.

Let’s shop outside the box this Christmas

Toy marketing can make choosing gifts by gender seem like a safe choice, but kids deserve better. This Christmas we’re encouraging shoppers to reject ‘toys for boys’ and ‘toys for girls’ and shop outside the pink and blue boxes.

We all want to buy a gift that will please but the choice can be overwhelming, especially in the pressured Christmas shopping period. Manufacturers and retailers make the most of shoppers’ uncertainties with subtle – and not so subtle – suggestions that gender stereotypes are a good guide to choosing a toy for a child.

They simply aren’t. Children’s tastes are far more diverse than that. Marketing toys by gender limits children’s choices, limits their chances to learn and develop and feeds bullying.

Manipulating shoppers

There’s nothing wrong with choosing doll for a girl that would like one, or a car for a boy who would enjoy playing with it, but lots of girls like cars and dolls can be great gifts for boys too. Children’s tastes are more diverse and more interesting than the toy industry would have us believe. Children need to try out different kinds of play – we need to shop outside the pink and blue boxes laid down by the marketers to make sure they get that chance.

Plenty of retailers manage to market and sell toys without reference to gender – Debenhams reorganised their in-store toy departments by theme instead of gender last year, and many websites including, and don’t use gender filters or recommendations.

Influencing children directly

Children may be less likely to see ‘Girls’ and ‘Boys’ labels on toys on a website than they are in a shop, but many will browse websites to choose, and even more will flick through catalogues and gift guides. Is it really OK for marketers to tell children what they’re supposed to like?

Time to change

We think it’s time that the toy and publishing industries stopped promoting tired gender stereotypes through marketing. If you agree, here’s how you can help:

1/ Help us spread the word in the run up to Christmas – use the ‘share’ buttons below to share this post on social media.

2/ Support retailers which don’t promote stereotypes – visit our Toymark directory.

3/ Seek out alternatives – check out our Christmas gift guides.

4/ Talk to friends and family about why gender stereotyping matters to you.

Leave a Comment