Dear Mr. White,
I am writing you concerning an advertisement that was recently put out by your company, The Kids Store, for a child's play kitchen. Upon my concern about this ad, I was advised by your store's customer service to contact you directly. The item specifically, that is the subject of my concern, is the Pink Palace Kitchen. As a loyal customer of your store for multiple years now, I was quite surprised to see such gender biased advertisement and frankly upset to see an advertisement for a product that portrays such a sexist message that I find offensive to the female gender and discouraging to little girls.
The image on the advertisement depicts a little girl kneeling by a kitchenette. What I found to be so appalling first of all was the choice of color. It may seem harmless to paint a children's toy kitchen in pink and put a little girl in a dress on the front of the box yet this heavily encourages the ancient idea that women are made for the kitchen and the kitchen is ‘a women's place'. The whole advertisement is pink and purple which are typically colors associated with femininity, however I do not see the need to feminize this kitchen which implies that this toy is only aimed for girls. Any child could play with this toy and enjoy themselves. Advertising this product as a girl's toy encourages the old-fashioned idea that a women's place is in the kitchen.
When it comes to buying gifts for children, so many toys in today's market are color coded. Rigid boundaries are set for children that segregate violent action figures from pretty pink princesses and dolls. It is assumed that this is how it's always been. However, the princess role that's present in girls' toys today was strikingly rarer prior to the 1990s. Contrary to what we would think now due to the efforts and awareness that have been made against gender inequality, the marketing of toys is more gendered now than even a couple decades ago. As a children's toy company, I feel that it is your responsibility to encourage creativity from both boys and girls and promote equal opportunities and capabilities through non gender biased advertisement. It is companies like yours that can make a difference by standing out from other advertisements in todays market that explicitly classify toys as being “for boys” or “for girls”. As one of the largest Toy Stores in New Zealand you have the power to advertise in a way that promotes gender equality.
The use of the slogan pink palace kitchen glamorises the sexist and offensive idea of women belonging in the kitchen. Not only does it feminize the kitchen but the term ‘palace' also attempts to romanticise this kitchen which is a symbolism of society's biased beliefs on women's capabilities. It alludes to the idea that women's capabilities are limited and instills these beliefs in children from their early days. It subconsciously enforces the idea in their mind that a women's role is to stay home and take care of the household perhaps affecting their self confidence in their future about their ability to perform the same jobs as men.
The phrase “Enjoy cooking and cleaning” on the advert also glamorizes and alludes to the idea of a women's role being in the kitchen. Instead of the slogan for this advertisement encouraging children to explore their creativity, it does the opposite, generalizing what girls are expected to be interested in and play with. The main idea that your advert is conveying through this slogan is that all little girls are expected to like playing house, clean, and help their mother with her chores. Toys like this would have been advertised in the past, clearly designed with the intent to encourage and prepare young girls to a life of homemaking where household chores and domestic tasks were portrayed as enjoyable for women. However, it is no longer the 1900's where stereotypes such as these are normalized. It is the 21st century and an advertisement advocating these values is completely unacceptable and offensive towards women and anyone who has ever fought for gender equality.
Personally, my son and daughter have grown up alongside each other sharing toys, wether it be my son playing house with dolls or my daughter imagining herself as to be a knight alongside her brother and playing with swords. Seeing my children grow up like this without letting their gender define what toys they should be expected to play with, has opened my eyes to how society restricts and sets expectations for children even at such a young age on how their gender should define their interests. It would upset me so much to know that my daughter feels mentally and physically limited in terms of what she can accomplish.
We believe we have made such progress over the years on gender equality yet this issue is still relevant today through such simple things like children's toys. The toys children grow up playing with shape their interests. Having equal opportunities as boys and girls to play with the same toys and explore their interest will greatly shape the future of our world. By encouraging the decrease of gender biased advertisements, we can work to ensure a decrease in gender stereotypes and inequality by not limiting children to society's expectations and putting them in boxes when they are young. As the head of the advertisement board of your company, I feel that it is your duty to ensure that all products marketed and sold by your company encourage children to explore their interests, capabilities and creativity without being restricted in any sense by society's expectations. You have the power to make a difference, use it wisely. Thank you for taking the time to read through my concerns.
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