Eliminate gender stereotypes for kids


Story by Whitney Silkey, Assistant News Editor

As a psychology major, I obviously wonder why people behave in certain ways, but I have always wondered why gender stereotypes (for example: boys play with action figures, girls play with baby dolls) were even a thing.

During my early (and painfully awkward) high school years, I embraced the fact that I was who I was. With that came a part of me that said, “Screw these gender stereotypes. If I want to wear a NASA T-shirt, basketball shorts and men’s glow-in-the-dark footie pajamas, then I will!”

Ever since then I have been all for people being true to themselves no matter what gender-themed items make them happy.

Some people believe that boys and girls will always have specific gender roles, but I think kids will be better off if they aren’t swayed toward specific gendered toys or clothes. Letting kids explore the toys that they want encourages them to express creativity and to become true individuals.

Recently there has been a push to eliminate gender stereotypes in stores. Target is one of the major retailers that decided to stop labeling toy sections with gender-specific signs.

I am all for Target removing marketing that pushes children to buy particular toys based on gender. It’s probably the psychology background in me, but I am baffled that gender stereotypes are still present today.

Why are we limiting our children and putting them in specific gender boxes instead of encouraging growth and exploration of the world around them, regardless of whether toys are pink or blue? When are we going to start letting people be whoever the hell they want to be and stop judging them for liking My Little Pony, Barbies and doll houses?

I’m not saying that I don’t think there are differences when it comes to boys and girls, but I don’t think that the toys they play with or the clothes that they wear should define them.

I’m looking forward to the day when McDonald’s stops asking “Boy or girl toy?” when customers order Happy Meals. If we really want to make kids happy, we should be encouraging them to play and learn instead of defining them by gender.