Moving the “Target” Away from Gender Signs

You’re in the toy section at the store and need to buy a gift for a little girl. Finding the “right” aisle is pretty easy because you just look for the signs that say “girls (fill in the blank)” and look for the pink. But, if you shop at Target, you’re going to have to look a little harder.

Target recently announced it is moving away from those gender-based signs in some of its departments. After getting feedback from some customers, the retail giant decided to go in a more neutral direction. You used to see signs that would say “Building Sets” and then “Girls’ Building Sets”. You won’t see those anymore. You also won’t see shelves lined in different colors for boys and girls. You’ll just see “Building Sets” or maybe “Kids’ Building Sets”. The shelves will be some non-gender based color. There will be no more distinguishing between girls and boys.

Critics of those types of gender-based signs said they were not only unnecessary but also possibly harmful. They say leading girls to one type of toys and boys to another sends the wrong message. Girls and boys can play with the same toys if they so choose. Many say changing gender-based signs is the first step in changing how kids will see themselves.

Yay for Target…I guess. Call me crazy, but I don’t see what’s so bad about having pink or blue shelf paper or a sign that says “boy’s trucks” or “girl’s bedding”. It doesn’t mean we stop kids from going down those aisles. If you’ve ever taken a kid to a store, they tend to go down every toy aisle and look at just about everything. A sign that says “boys” or “girls” certainly doesn’t stop them.

If my girls want to look at a “boy” toy, they do. Two Christmas’ ago my oldest daughter only wanted a fire truck. While it may not have been a typical “girl” toy, Santa got it for her. Another Christmas it was a Thomas train and track. To this day, she still plays with both of those toys. She never saw either of those toys as ones she shouldn’t like or have. I don’t think a different sign or shelf color in the toy aisle would have changed her mind either way.’

As parents, I think it’s important to expose our kids to everything, whether it’s a fire truck or a Barbie doll. We need to tell them they can build whichever Lego set they choose. They can be the doctor or the nurse. They can choose a chemistry set or an Easy Bake oven. The point is a gender-neutral sign or shelf color isn’t going to work miracles. At least, I don’t think they will.

Is it so bad for kids to just be kids without political correctness wanting to play in the sandbox too?

Do you agree with Target’s decision? Do you think gender-based signs harm kids?