For decades, pink has been for girls and blue has been for boys. This arbitrary assignation of colour to gender has for generations dictated the colour of children’s rooms, clothes, stationery and toys. And these constraints that omnipotently decide ‘this is for boys’ and ‘this is for girls’ have also extended into other areas of children’s lives, often limiting what they feel they are permitted to participate in.
However, these notions that have until now been cast in plasticine GI Joes action figures and Barbie dolls are starting to melt together, blurring gender lines and giving children the ability to determine how they want to represent their personal identities.
On a product level, this has already seen companies like Goldiebox launch action figures for girls in a bid to disrupt the pink aisle.
Another example of this would be the #likeagirl campaign that has gone so viral online.
But this is only part of the picture. Research by Getty Images recently showed that more brands are showing a willingness to blur the lines between genders when it comes to marketing related to children.
Photos of girls jumping in muddy puddles, climbing trees and riding plastic motorcyles of girls are now becoming common, while pictures of boys playing with teddy bears, baking and playing dress-up are also becoming increasingly popular.
Not only does this show brands shifting beyond pre-designated gender lines, but it could also benefit children.
According the Getty article, studies show that children who receive toys that are not strongly gender-typed are more likely to develop physically, cognitively, academically and musically.
However, the movement still has some way to go. Toy aisles in New Zealand continue to be populated by gender-typed products and advertising plays within the long-established gender safe zones.
An exception to this rule might be the Nature’s Fresh ad released last year, featuring an inquisitive girl asking challenging questions, but this is hardly as revolutionary as the work done by Goldiebox or Always.
At the end of its article, Getty places the onus on marketers to choose imagery that gives children the freedom to define their own gender roles. And if they are to have this freedom then the blues and pinks that have for so long typified their designated roles have to be redefined by the way marketers present them.