Toy in­dus­try grap­ples with tired stereo­types

Gen­der-spe­cific toys can draw con­sumer fire; par­ents say al­low child to make choice.

Austin American-Statesman - - LIFE & ARTS - CONTRIBUTED BY HAS­BRO By Michelle R. Smith Toys

A 13-year-old girl’s cam­paign to get Has­bro to make an EasyBake Oven that isn’t pur­ple or pink so it would ap­peal to her lit­tle brother is a fresh sign of move­ment in an old de­bate. Par­ents who hope to ex­pose their chil­dren to dif­fer­ent kinds of play — sci­ence sets for girls and dolls for boys, for ex­am­ple — can find them­selves stymied by a toy in­dus­try that can seem stuck in the past when it comes to gen­der roles.

Has­bro wasn’t the only tar­get of crit­i­cism this year.

One of the year’s hottest toys, the “LEGO Friends But­ter­fly Beauty Shop,” specif­i­cally aimed LE­GOS at girls, but turned to tired gen­der stereo­types with its fo­cus on a beauty shop and in­clu­sion of characters with curves and eye­lashes. Bar­bie turned builder with a new con­struc­tion set. But while some praised it, oth­ers crit­i­cized it for be­ing too pink.

Toy ex­perts say the in­dus­try re­flects cul­tural norms, and

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