When I was six, my favorite toy was a stuffed rabbit I named “Scratchy.” The toy store had a small selection of stuffed animals, but most had some sort of theme to them, either Disney characters, or electronic motion-sensing kittens that “came to life” when you walked past them. Since Scratchy was a gift, I’m not exactly sure where he came from – probably not a Target.
Lots of the toys in this section were bears, puppies, and kittens. Most of the bears there had some sort of feminine theme to them, bears you could draw on with special markers, bears loaded in jewelry, bears with separate trendy outfits. Many of the stuffed animals came in portable purse-cages, or were from a “rescue-vet” series, where the child could play nurture the puppy back to health. One of the important things I noticed was that on the other side of the aisle was the baby doll section. As a result, while multiple girls walked through the aisle, I did not see a single boy look at the stuffed animals. The aisle defiantly had a feminine “vibe.” Even the backboard of the shelving was pink, and most of the more obviously masculine toys (Tonka trucks, etc) were on the other end of the section.
While at first glance many of the stuffed animals seemed to be for either gender, in blue and yellow packaging instead of pink and purple (as most of them were) when you looked closer at the packaging I noticed that every single toy had a girl playing with it in the product pictures. The pictures generally had a little girl with pretty hair in clips, wearing a sweater twin-set, cradling the puppy/bear/kitten in her arms with a loving expression…pretty similar to a lot of the expressions of the girls across the aisles, playing with the baby dolls.
These pictures, along with the theme of children adopting and taking care of and nurturing these toys defiantly played on traditional gender roles as the girl/woman being the more nurturing…in retrospect I suppose I would have been a lot more surprised to...