Applaud UK Toy Stores for Ditching “Boy” and “Girl” Labels

toys r us

Target: Toys “R” Us UK

Goal: Commend toy retailer for agreeing to adopt gender-inclusive advertising.

A campaign called Let Toys Be Toys has recently emerged victorious from a series of talks with major UK retailers, convincing them to make changes including removing traditional gender role advertising and refusing to label toys as intended for girls or boys; so far these include The Entertainer, Boots, Tesco, TK Maxx, Sainsbury’s, Hobbycraft, and Next. In the press release detailing Toys “R” Us UK’s agreement, Let Toys Be Toys is described as a “consumer campaign group representing thousands of shoppers who are concerned with the influence on children of sexist stereotypes that are still widely used in the toy industry.”

The board of Toys “R” Us UK met with Let Toys Be Toys recently to work on a set of alterations to store signage and advertising in order to create a more inclusive marketing strategy, including taking another look at their Christmas catalogue. This represents an important step in establishing a gender-neutral approach to how children are raised around the world, encouraging them to broaden their horizons beyond the options afforded them by the existing rigid gender binary. As Let Toys Be Toys reports, the Swedish arm of Toys “R” Us, a US-based retailer, has recently renovated their advertising to avoid propagating sexist stereotypes, notably creating a marketing campaign featuring children playing in non-traditional roles. Hopefully these transitions in the toy giant’s companies abroad foretell an advertising overhaul soon to come from US headquarters for all branches.

By signing this petition, you are applauding Toys “R” Us UK for joining forces with Let Toys Be Toys to realize a vision of open horizons for children growing up with the ability to play indiscriminately and to choose the toys they desire without fear of oppression. You are encouraging them to fully consider their advertising and marketing strategies in the future, and always to keep the tender identities of children in mind when developing new toys and advertising philosophies. You are urging the company as a whole to consider making gender-inclusive changes to all stores throughout the world.


Dear Toys “R” Us UK Managing Director Roger McLaughlan,

I am very excited about the implications of your recent decision to adopt gender-inclusive advertising and signage, for the futures of UK children who will not need to feel humiliated if they toys they enjoy have not previously been recognized as “appropriate” for their gender. I hope that you will lose no time in carefully reconsidering all of your advertising and marketing strategies in all of your stores and catalogues so as to carry out the mission of your new partner Let Toys Be Toys.

Thank you for agreeing to make the world of toys and imagination a gender-inclusive place unbound by the limitations of sexist stereotyping and the gender binary. Thank you for pledging to make changes in everyday marketing campaigns and signs that will help to change the way children are taught to conceive of gender. Hopefully Toys “R” Us headquarters and other branches will see the wisdom of your decision and soon determine to make a change as well.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Terence Ong via Wikimedia Commons

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