Media Applaud Target’s Removal of Gender 'Stigmas' on Toy Labels

Media Applaud Target’s Removal of ‘Boy’ and ‘Girl’ Labels on Toys

The retail store is right on target to fight gender stereotypes – according to the media, that is.

On Friday, Target announced that it would “phase out gender-based signage” by not advertising differences between boys’ and girls’ items, including toys and bedding. From The Washington Post to Upworthy, writers praised the “exciting move” that bashes “harmful” “gender stereotyping” and connected the decision to “awareness of the transgender community.”

In an online statement, Target stressed, “[W]e never want guests or their families to feel frustrated or limited by the way things are presented.” The retail giant went on to express that “suggesting products by gender is unnecessary,” especially in departments like Toys, Home and Entertainment.

To “strike a better balance” and “phase out gender-based signage,” Target outlined specific changes:

“For example, in the kids’ Bedding area, signs will no longer feature suggestions for boys or girls, just kids. In the Toys aisles, we’ll also remove reference to gender, including the use of pink, blue, yellow or green paper on the back walls of our shelves.”

In their reaction, the media applauded the move – by bashing gender stereotypes.

“Target hits the bull's-eye by announcing an end to gender-based signs,” read Robbie Couch’s headline for Upworthy.

“Unfortunately, gender stereotyping is still the norm when it comes to toys,” Couch wrote at one point.

“We have a long way to go, but Target's big announcement is a sign we're headed in the right direction.”

Pointing to successful “female-focused campaigns” from Pantene and Always, The Washington Post’s Jessica Contrera chimed in: “All of these show women and girls confronting female stereotypes.”

Even if Target didn’t connect its decision to transgender advocacy, Contrera, along with other journalists, did.

“These campaigns also add to the rise in awareness of the transgender community, which is slowly showing the world that gender dysphoria (feeling your gender is different than the sex you were born with) is real,” Contrera wrote, “and not just for Caitlyn Jenner.”

“The news from Target comes as transgender people appear to be gaining ground in the fight for equality,” The Hill’s Lydia Wheeler wrote.

Wheeler added at the end that, “In July, the Defense Department said it’s beginning the process to lift the ban on open service for transgender troops and introduced legislation to add gender identity and sexual orientation to federal statutes.”

Bustle’s Hope Racine also praised the “exciting move in an important direction.”

“[N]arrowly classifying children's interests and play based on their gender can be harmful,” she warned, because “[i]t reinforces gender stereotypes, and isolates children who might identify outside of ‘traditional’ gender roles.”

Rancine continued to caution that, “Removing stigmas from children's toys and products is a multistep process. The first and crucial step, as Target has realized, is removing unnecessary classifications. But the next is providing an equality in toys…”

For USA Today, Jennifer Calfas wrote, “Kids visiting Target will no longer have to consider their gender while shopping.”

MTV’s headline read, “Target Will Soon Be Leading The Corporate Charge On Smashing Gender Norms.”

“If you ever experienced moments of frustration as a kid because you felt your options for toys and clothes were limited based on your gender,” writer Patrick Hosken wrote, “Target’s most recent company-wide change is a win for you.”

“And honestly, it’s a win for everyone,” he concluded.

Speaking of toys and priorities, let’s hope Target never again places those BDSM “Fifty Shades” sex toys next to children’s toothbrushes.

— Katie Yoder is Staff Writer, Joe and Betty Anderlik Fellow in Culture and Media at the Media Research Center. Follow Katie Yoder on Twitter.