Toys R Us in Sweden has responded to criticism by an advertising watchdog by producing a Christmas catalogue that pictures girls enjoying action toys and boys participating in some more sedate family role-play.
In 2008, Top Toy (the company that runs the Toys R Us franchise in Sweden) was accused by Reklammbsmannen of encouraging “outdated gender roles” by the way it showed children playing with toys in its catalogue.
This year, the catalogue includes picture a picture of a girl poised with a Nerf gun, a boy caring for a Cicciobella doll and both a boy and girl a play with a Barbie Dream House.
“So what?” many of our readers will say, the youngest children busily play with whatever they see before them, which leads to the development of preferences for certain types of toy. Well, with deeply entrenched views about what children should play with, wear or even which colour they may choose as a favourite, this may go some way may to ensure Swedish girls are not denied some fun with guns; or that boys are taught that that hands-on parenting by the father is not somehow wrong.
Top Toy also produced a Christmas catalogues for Denmark, they feature a similar page layout, however, stereotypical preferences are shown.
Jan Nyberg, sales director at Top Toys said: ‘We have produced the catalogues for both BR and Toys R Us in a completely different way this year. For several years, we have found that the gender debate has grown so strong in the Swedish market that we have had to adjust. With the new gender thinking, there is nothing that is right or wrong. It’s not a boy or a girl thing, it’s a toy for children.’