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Why are so many toys for girls pink and purple?

December 10, 2012 - Andrea Johnson
I don't think it's my imagination that pink and purple has taken over marketing of toys for girls in the last couple of decades.

Since I don't have children, I only really notice this when I am shopping for a Christmas or a birthday gift for my nephews or for a toy for a kid on the angel tree. I like buying dolls, so the toy drive for kids at Christmas gives me a chance to do that. I just wish I could find a doll that wasn't in a pink and purple cardboard box. What's wrong with blue or yellow or green?

I had a large collection of Barbie dolls as a child, most of which I stripped naked and redressed in homemade doll clothes and used as characters in elaborate stories I made up about spies escaping danger. My cousin performed painful amputations with dull scissors on her Barbie dolls and chopped off their hair so they looked like ragamuffins. Don't ask me why, but it probably had something to do with whatever story she was making up in her head. I don't remember either of us having much interest in beauty shops or dream dates or Barbie's pet pink dog or horse, if they were even marketed at the time. Some of the sparkly pink and purple accessories came along after I was too old for Barbie dolls.

This may say more about me than the nature of little girls, but I still wonder if all this emphasis on pink and purple clothes and toys and appearances is stifling creativity. How easy is it to turn a Disney Princess or a Barbie in pink princess wear into a super spy?

Pink hasn't always been the color for girls. Back in the early 20th century girls wore blue, perhaps because it reminded mothers of the Virgin Mary, and boys were the ones who wore pink because it was considered a stronger color and akin to red.

Sweden's advertisers are enforcing gender neutral advertising for children's toys this Christmas. I saw a Swedish toy catalogue that showed a boy and girl playing with a pink toy hair dryer. I think we could do with a little more of that sort of thing here too.


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