I grabbed a packet of wild paprika flavored Pom-Bears in Berlin because I’d never seen them in the UK. While I chowed down on my tasty snacks, I read in big letters at the top of the packet “ONLY FOR BOYS.” I remembered the other flavor I didn’t choose—sweet paprika—which was pink and obviously “ONLY FOR GIRLS.” Yeah, that’s what we should be teaching the younger generations, that girls must be sweet and boys must be wild. While I managed to finish my crisps—I’d already bought them and they were tasty—I chewed loud and angry.
I started thinking about Kinder Eggs. Remember when they decided it would be a great idea to make pink ones with princesses inside for girls and blue ones full of toy racing cars for boys? Gender stereotyping is always going to exist but these companies have a responsibility. They are perpetuating the myths that boys can’t love ballet and girls must turn their noses up at footballs. Kids get confused when they like something that the world deems gender inappropriate. This stereotyping can really screw a kid up.
Plus there’s the simple fact that companies are selling sexism to children. A lot of our current issues about gender would lessen if sexism wasn’t rammed down our throats all of our lives.
So why do adverts continue down this avenue? Well, sex sells and unfortunately so does sexism. As human beings we like to categorize. I’m perfectly content when alphabetising my books, sad but true. We like to organize. Naturally, some of us then like to categorize ourselves and having these stereotypes to live up to makes us feel safe in a deluded kind of way instead of just being who we are naturally. But if adverts didn’t tell kids how to be it would give them less ammo for bullying. I’m being idealistic but so what. There’s been a lot of anger online recently about advertising with Photoshop and thigh gaps, which is damaging to kids too. But it is just as prevalent in the more innocent seeming products. Remember the Yorkie “Not for girls” campaign? Infuriating!
If you fancy a kickabout, go for it. If your nephew wants to dress up in a pink sparkly tutu, let him. Glitter can be fun. But basically, be big, be bold, and be beautiful, and don’t let a packet of crisps dictate who you are.
Title image source: dance.net