Sammy Nickalls
August 09, 2015 7:11 am

Two months ago, we were pretty annoyed by a ridiculous sign in Target’s toy section. Ohio parent Abi Bechtel tweeted a photograph of a toy aisle that said “Building Sets” and “Girls’ Building Sets.”

“It stood out to me as a good example of the way our culture tends to view boys and men as the default, normal option and girls and women as the specialized exception,” Bechtel told CNN.

The photograph was retweeted over 2,800 times, and Target received a lot of backlash for the sign. And for good reason; Bechtel hit the nail on the head. Do we really need to differentiate girls’ building sets from, you know, just “normal” building sets? At the time, Target responded by explaining that this is just the way things are. “We know families are tight on time and looking for inspiration,” Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder told CNN in an e-mail. “Therefore, we continually explore how to organize our stores and website in ways that will be convenient, appealing and helpful to our guests. Additionally, on Target.com, when guests shop for toys, they most often begin their search by sorting toys by brand, age and gender.”

Now, it looks as though Target has changed their tune regarding gender-based categories in their store. No longer will there be signs designating boys’ toys from girls’ toys, and pink and blue paper will be removed from shelves. Hooray!

“. . . as guests have pointed out, in some departments like toys, home or entertainment, suggesting products by gender is unnecessary,” Target wrote in a statement on their website. “We heard you, and we agree. Right now, our teams are working across the store to identify areas where we can phase out gender-based signage to help strike a better balance.”

Target explained that they will be keeping signs in areas like apparel, where there are fit and sizing differences between boys and girls. “Historically, guests have told us that sometimes—for example, when shopping for someone they don’t know well—signs that sort by brand, age or gender help them get ideas and find things faster. But we know that shopping preferences and needs change,” Target wrote in the statement.

Other than apparel, we will be seeing gender-based signs removed from the store in the next coming months, and not just from the toys’ section. “For example, in the kids’ bedding area, signs will no longer feature suggestions for boys or girls, just kids,” Target continued in the statement.

“Kids pick up cues about what society thinks of gender from so many places, and I’m glad that the Target toy aisle is no longer going to be one of the places they’re bombarded with ideas about what’s appropriate for kids of any gender to play with,” Bechtel told CNN about the change on Saturday. “I’m really pleased that so many people saw the potential for change and joined in asking for things to be better, and that Target listened.”

We’re thrilled about the change, too. Dolls aren’t only for girls, while building sets aren’t only for boys; gender should not limit children from living and playing how they want to, just like gender should not limit adults from pursuing the career path of their choice. It’s time that we nip gender roles in the bud, starting from the pink girls’ toy section of our youth. We applaud Target for listening to its customers and making a fabulous change for the much, much better.

(Image via)

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