Friday, April 2, 2010

Marketing to girls: pink stinks. Really?

“You need to buy me a new jacket.”
“Why? It still fits you. There’s nothing wrong with it.”
“It’s too girly.”

Actual conversation between my daughter and me last week.

She’s 7.

And then there’s this Time magazine article Not So Pretty in Pink: Are Girls' Toys Too Girly? about two London moms who recently launched the advocacy group Pinkstinks, which they hope will "spark a shift in a popular culture that they say puts girls "into a pretty little box" from birth, offering them toys that emphasize the importance of looking good and being feminine, while the boys are allowed to go exploring and get dirty."

Which is fine… I suppose, if it weren’t such a tired feminist argument that really has nothing to do with consumer marketing, gender inequality or unfair stereotypes.

Here’s the thing. The reason why all the girl clothes and toys are pink and purple and princess-y is not because the toy and fashion industries are sexist. It’s because that’s what sells. And it’s what the girls want… up until about age 6 or 7. And then it changes. Just go into any major retailer or department store and look at the different sections. Toddler/preschool clothing and toys are extremely segmented by stereotypical gender colors and genres, but merchandise for older kids (ages 7 and up) is not. It's not a conspiracy. It's just plain old market economics.

However, as a feminist and women's college graduate I do know that there are plenty of parents out there who are fed up with the mass merchandise and uninspired consumer products targeting our young children. They want products that are fresh, new and different. As a mother to a daughter who up until a year ago would only wear pink, I also know that it's frustrating to buy clothes or toys that simply don't get used.

The London moms (mums) behind the Pinkstinks campaign have launched a sister website where kids can participate in the discussion.

What do you think?

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