The “little princess” we see today


It turns out that the pink princess model for girl children in the US is just as parochial in time as it is in place, according to Elizabeth Sweet in the Atlantic.

When it comes to buying gifts for children, everything is color-coded: Rigid boundaries segregate brawny blue action figures from pretty pink princesses, and most assume that this is how it’s always been. But in fact, the princess role that’s ubiquitous in girls’ toys today was exceedingly rare prior to the 1990s—and the marketing of toys is more gendered now than even 50 years ago, when gender discrimination and sexism were the norm.

The princess thing makes me pull my hair with disgust. It’s so infantilizing, so diminishing, so ridiculous. I even know one or two grown women who seem to model themselves on the pink princess paradigm, and what could be creepier than that?

In my research on toy advertisements, I found that even when gendered marketing was most pronounced in the 20th century, roughly half of toys were still being advertised in a gender-neutral manner. This is a stark difference from what we see today, as businesses categorize toys in a way that more narrowly forces kids into boxes. For example, a recent study by sociologists Carol Auster and Claire Mansbach found that all toys sold on the Disney Store’s website were explicitly categorized as being “for boys” or “for girls”—there was no “for boys and girls” option, even though a handful of toys could be found on both lists.

Really that just sums up the whole thing right there – this idea that there is “for boys” and “for girls” at all. That’s what sexism is: restricting people to “for girls” or “for boys” as if they weren’t allowed to decide for themselves. The world is for boys, the inside of the house is for girls. Jobs are for boys, domestic chores are for girls. Boys are real, girls are dolls. Men matter, women are vacant.

For a time in the 70s toys actually were marketed in a cross-gender way, showing boys playing with toy appliances and girls playing with carpentry sets. But it didn’t last.

Although gender inequality in the adult world continued to diminish between the 1970s and 1990s, the de-gendering trend in toys was short-lived. In 1984, the deregulation of children’s television programming suddenly freed toy companies to create program-length advertisements for their products, and gender became an increasingly important differentiator of these shows and the toys advertised alongside them. During the 1980s, gender-neutral advertising receded, and by 1995, gendered toys made up roughly half of the Sears catalog’s offerings—the same proportion as during the interwar years.

However, late-century marketing relied less on explicit sexism and more on implicit gender cues, such as color, and new fantasy-based gender roles like the beautiful princess or the muscle-bound action hero. These roles were still built upon regressive gender stereotypes—they portrayed a powerful, skill-oriented masculinity and a passive, relational femininity—that were obscured with bright new packaging. In essence, the “little homemaker” of the 1950s had become the “little princess” we see today.

Gotta enforce those gender differences, people. Without it you get ANARCHY and cats marrying dogs.

It doesn’t have to be this way. While gender is what’s traditionally used to sort target markets, the toy industry (which is largely run by men) could categorize its customers in a number of other ways—in terms of age and interest, for example. (This could arguably broaden the consumer base.) However, the reliance on gender categorization comes from the top: I found no evidence that the trends of the past 40 years are the result of consumer demand. That said, the late-20th-century increase in the percentage of Americans who believe in gender differences suggests that the public wasn’t exactly rejecting gendered toys, either.

While the second-wave feminist movement challenged the tenets of gender difference, the social policies to create a level playing field were never realized and a cultural backlash towards feminism began to gain momentum in the 1980s. In this context, the model outlined in Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus—which implied that women gravitated toward certain roles not because of oppression but because of some innate preference—took hold. This new tale of gender difference, which emphasizes freedom and choice, has been woven deeply into the fabric of contemporary childhood. The reformulated story does not fundamentally challenge gender stereotypes; it merely repackages them to make them more palatable in a “post-feminist” era. Girls can be anything—as long as it’s passive and beauty-focused.

Police that boundary.

Comments

  1. ZugTheMegasaurus says

    I’m grateful that my parents didn’t try to push these sorts of things onto my brother and I (although my mom was a little bummed that her daughter wouldn’t play Barbies with her). Sure, we had some gender-specific toys that were gifts from well-meaning relatives, but I remember we most often played with a toy kitchen, plain wood blocks, and board games (this would have been the early-to-mid ’90s).

    My dad and I still laugh about my response to a “princess” question when I was a kid. I was probably 7 or 8 and was playing with some friends at a neighborhood barbecue. We were running around pretending some crazy thing when I announced that I was the king. Some woman who I didn’t really know said, “Honey, don’t you mean that you’re a princess?” I looked her square in the eye and said, somewhat exasperated, “Princesses don’t have any power at all. We need to do something, so I’m obviously the king.” I then sprinted off to take care of whatever royal business I was talking about. The woman gave my dad a death glare and he just shrugged and mumbled, “She reads a lot.”

  2. bronwyncaveney says

    Long time lurker, thanks for this. I work at an airport, and the little kids with their own luggage is adorable, but oh-so-telling. Everything for the girls is princess oriented, and the boys have the choice of superheroes or cars. I work with some women who think the princess thing is cool, and they will ask the little girls who is their favorite princess. They miss out on the larger narrative, what do princesses do, and what are their worth? Marry a prince, and look pretty. I know it’s a marketing ploy to make more money, these gendered toys and clothes, but I can’t help that there is more to it, the passive vs the active roles that are being presented. My son is now in his twenties, and on his own, but back when he was small, it was still hard to find clothes and toys that were not associated with some TV cartoon or movie character – it’s gotten to be far worse now.

  3. says

    It’s Elizabeth Sweet, not Elizabeth Smart, by the way.

    Many years ago, not long after Reagan was elected (but before he took office), I saw a story in the LA Times about somebody complaining that the toy section in a particular store was divided into girls and boys toys–objecting specifically that board games were in the girls section rather than in some all-inclusive area. The spokesman for the store said that he planned to make no changes because Reagan’s election showed that soon all this sort of gender-equality nonsense would be coming to an end. At the time I thought the guy was nuts–but from these observations it looks as if he may have been a harbinger of things to come.

  4. Katydid says

    I was born in the 1960s, and I remember growing up playing with Lincoln Logs, TinkerToys, Legos (the build-anything set, not the build-the-specific-thing-on-the-box set). I also had Barbie and Ken and the camper that they used to solve Scooby-Doo type mysteries in. I remember girls and boys playing together–kickball was a favorite sport in the summer My kids are in their late teens and 20s and I thought the toys were gendered when they were small…now it’s horrendous.

  5. mildlymagnificent says

    Have to say I’m really glad my kids were born in the early 80s. There were no problems like this, apart from my husband’s horror of Barbies. Which he eventually allowed himself to suppress for the sake of one of our daughters who was desperately keen for one when she was about 6 or 7.

    For the most part, they had Tinker Toys, all purpose Lego in primary colours, Meccano and all sorts of nifty things at home. At the childcare centre, the miniature kitchen and play shop and a couple of train/ car things were all made of wood, varnished not painted, so the kids happily played in mixed groups without any sense of any one thing being specifically promoted or denied on a gender basis. The dress up box was also available for whoever wanted to wear whatever they chose. Of course, as night follows day, that meant that when one of mine and her two inseparable little friends wanted to have a wedding, the two girls chose their favourite “party clothes” and the little boy chose the bride’s white dress and veil. So the staff took a photo and all three families got a copy. It was fun, and funny, and no one thought much about it. Certainly no one got all het up about it.

    The other thing that occurred to me the other day was about that all too traditional girls’ toy – dolls. I know there was one version of a crying, weeing baby doll that both kids wanted one Xmas. But the main ones I remember were the Cabbage Patch Kids and those rather strange things with the squishy faces and longish legs. The extension of Barbie pinkification seemed fairly harmless when the Strawberry Shortcake stuff started coming out. In retrospect, they seem to have been the start of something big.

  6. Intaglio says

    I find it very funny that the evopsych people try to push the idea that colour choices are inherent in children. Oddly, if you go back to Victorian times or further, pink was considered to be the colour boys preferred and blues were for girls.

  7. Kevin Kehres says

    I always wanted an Easy Bake Oven. Never got it. Never mind; I learned how to cook on my own.

  8. moarscienceplz says

    I blame marketing departments. All thing being equal, I’m sure the toy companies would be thrilled to have a toy that was whined for equally by girls and boys. But I suspect what really happens is that they have some meeting to decide on a new toy and a marketer is invited to present and he (in my experience, marketing departments are hugely skewed male) says something like, “We have identified a $5 million market for ride-in toy cars among girls and the most popular color is pink at 27%, followed by blue at 24%, so we need to have a pink car for girls ready by end of next quarter.”
    The fact that the #2 color choice for girls might also be a big hit with boys probably isn’t even considered.

  9. iknklast says

    When I was growing up (with the dinosaurs), we were not princesses. My toys were not pink. But gender norms were enforced in other ways, such as who did what chores. Early on I was taught to cook, wash dishes, and dust, while my brothers were taught to be aggressive and push girls around. (The boys chores didn’t show up until we moved to a farm; then they got to do all sorts of neat outside stuff). I horrified my parents by becoming a biologist; science is NOT a girl thing. My sisters? They married and had children, like good women should. (I did marry, and have one child, but I got divorced and my second husband and I have no children, so I am still in the weird and not-quite-woman category, especially since my sisters had from 4 to 8 children each). In spite of my “mutant” status (not quite female, but definitely not good enough to be male), I am the best cook in the family, and my child is the most stable even though I worked outside the home. Strange how those things work, huh? Perhaps the stereotype may not be based in reality?

  10. Gemma Mason says

    As much as I dislike gendered marketing of toys, I’d like to politely disagree with the idea that princesses are necessarily disgusting, infantilizing, diminishing, or ridiculous. Pinkness and femininity have a great many lovely aspects to them and it is sad when boys (and adult women) are taught not to appreciate this because we are stuck in this idea that girly things must be stupid and worthy of contempt.

    I’ve heard a surprisingly large number of anecdotes about boys who love princesses, which makes sense, given that they are marketed with large amounts of pathos and colour, both of which frequently appeal to children (and, yes, sometimes adults) of any gender or none.

  11. says

    Gemma – I didn’t say princesses are necessarily disgusting, infantilizing, diminishing, or ridiculous. I said “The princess thing makes me pull my hair with disgust. It’s so infantilizing, so diminishing, so ridiculous.” By “thing” I meant what I had just quoted – the marketing focus and its ubiquity. I wasn’t talking about actual princesses, but about the fantasy that’s pushed so hard at girls.

    I’m not really sure what you mean by princesses.

  12. Gemma Mason says

    Yeah, I meant ‘princesses’ as a concept: pretty dresses and grace and poise and kindness and lots of music that is deliciously emotionally manipulative (Let It Go FTW, I shall not apologise). The concept itself is slightly separate to the gendered marketing focus, I suppose, and it was the concept that I was defending.

  13. says

    Ok I don’t understand the concept then. I loved fairy tales when I was a child, so I did grow up with some concept of “princesses” in stories, but I’m not familiar with what you say, apart from the pretty dresses. Factually, a princess is simply a daughter of a monarch or an aristocrat (there were a lot of princesses in Russia whose parents weren’t monarchs; I never did learn what the rules were). But who says princesses all have grace and poise and kindness? I don’t know what you mean about the music, either.

  14. Gemma Mason says

    I mean the concept of ‘fairy tale princess’ as it currently exists in our culture. By its very nature it has no basis in fact. Nonetheless, it can still have uses, whether as a trope to use in a story, or a style to put on and off, or, sometimes (and deplorably) a gendered ideal of girly behavior and appearance that may be overly encouraged in order to instill compliance in little girls, or, alternatively, may be reviled in order to teach little boys that things which are associated with girls are contemptible. I do not believe this horrible normative usage is essential to the concept.

    Disney has a strong influence on our society’s current concept of ‘fairy tale princess’, hence the reference to music. I went through a period as a girl when the soundtrack to The Little Mermaid was my favourite tape and Part Of Your World was my favourite song. Yes, it can be read as a story about giving everything up for a man, which is not something we want to encourage in little girls, but let’s be honest, folks, Part Of Your World is a gloriously girly song about wanting to explore and learn and grow (and despite the name barely mentions the prince in any way and mostly uses the phrasing “…part of that world.”) I do not believe it was a coincidence that younger me loved it so much.

    I hate the way princesses are used to instill femininity into little girls so that they can be blamed for it later when they ‘freely choose’ to behave in feminine ways. But I don’t thing that they fairy-tale-princess style of femininity is all bad, and I think it gets underrated in the same way that society tends to underrate femininity as a whole (because it’s associated with women, so it must be bad, right?) I’d like it to be not compulsory, mixable with other types of tropes, stories and ideals (e.g. Princess Darth Vader) and available to anyone who wants to play with it regardless of gender.

  15. says

    Well the influence of Disney isn’t universal. I’ve been able to avoid it pretty completely for most of my life, so I really don’t share any concept of princesses as having to do with grace or poise or kindness. (That’s a mismatch anyway. The first two are finishing school items, and the third is something that matters.) I have a sense of the cloud of pink fluff that’s supposed to mean “princess” and is sold in stores, but other than that, nothing.

    I don’t think “femininity” is a thing. It’s just a word for gender-policing, which isn’t one of my favorite things. It’s doubtless true that “the feminine” is much more despised than “the masculine,” but I’ve never felt that that means I have to embrace “the feminine” to compensate. I prefer to be neither.

  16. Grasshopper600 says

    Girls can be anything—as long as it’s passive and beauty-focused.”

    This is the kind of stawman feminists make that really irritates me. No one has said that girls can’t have abilities or preferences that are not typical for their sex. Clearly a minority do, because like with any group, any statistical trend observed for girls will appear as a normal bell curve, and there will be outliers. There’s nothing wrong with those girls, and no one is saying that you should slap G.I. Joe out of her hand and replace it with a Barbie. But looking at the trend, most girls and boys will display those preferences. Companies know this, and mass market non-niche marketing will target these general trends. That’s why you see this gendered marketing, not because of some conspiracy to “force kids into boxes”.

    I also want to add an interesting tidbit about gendered play preferences. It turns out that gender-nonconforming behavior, including play preferences, is one of the strongest predictors of adult homosexuality. That doesn’t mean that every child who displays such behavior will be gay, and it doesn’t mean that every gay person displayed this behavior as a child, it’s just a statistical trend. We know from other research that gay men are physiologically more feminine in certain ways (finger length ratios, height, the size of a certain cell group in the hypothalamus, etc.), so it stands to reason that their play preferences are simply another manifestation of this femininity (as is their sexual orientation). And of course, there have been attempts to “correct” this behavior, which proved to be disastrous and traumatic failures:

    http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/what-are-little-boys-made-of-main

    So there you have it: gendered play preferences persisting in spite of extreme social pressure, (including physical violence!), to change. Seems pretty innate to me.

  17. carbonfox says

    Of course, the article comments are awash with the usuals… Something something biology something something boys and girls will always be different something something stop trying to force your girls to play with boy toys to further your idealogical bent you’ll ruin their Christmas cause girls want dolls don’t give them sports stuff.

    It’s very fundie. The bible is true therefore god is real therefore the bible is true. Girls naturally like dolls is why marketers/society push dolls on girls therefore girls like dolls. And like true fundies, they don’t see their circular logic and refuse to accept that there could be ANY cultural impact.

  18. Gemma Mason says

    Hm. I do think anti-femininity is a real force that sometimes needs to be pushed against in ways that are stronger than merely trying to ignore what society thinks is “feminine” or “masculine”. It can get complicated to do so, given that the “girls must be girly” and “girlyness is icky and stupid” forces like to operate simultaneously, and it can be tricky to fight both at once. The article you’re linking to here does a good job of fighting the former without reinforcing the latter.

  19. says

    I guess so. I know what you mean, of course, but all the same I do dislike the words. I think they’re way more normative than descriptive, and what they’re normative about is the stupidest kinds of putative gender differences.

  20. says

    Grasshopper600 @ 17 –

    No one has said that girls can’t have abilities or preferences that are not typical for their sex.

    No one, no one at all? Don’t be silly. Of course some people have said exactly that. You should take a look at Vision Forum sometime, for instance.

    And even if you’re right about average preferences, that’s still no reason to slap “girl” and “boy” labels on the toys. It would make more sense to slap actually informative labels on the toys instead.

  21. Grasshopper600 says

    Carbonbox – I take it your comment is in response to mine? If it’s not, just disregard everything I’m about to say.

    First off, I think I provided some pretty specific examples and not random “something somethings”. Secondly, I never said to not give girls sports stuff, in fact I said precisely the opposite: if they want “sports stuff” (male-typical play preferences), then by all means, get them some sports stuff. Likewise, if your son wants every single Disney princess doll, there’s nothing wrong with getting them for him.

    And where did you even get the idea that I am a Christian? I’m not.

    As for cultural impact, I do think it exists, for the simple reason that not all gender norms are the same in every culture. There do seem to be some universals though.

  22. Grasshopper600 says

    I’m sorry, it’s not displaying italics on my browser. What I’m trying to do is just leave a line in between my little paragraphs (when I don’t put in the cite tag and preview my posts, its all one big block)

  23. lorn says

    Welcome to modern capitalism where the need to show an ever increasing every year drives designers/investors/financiers to be become cowards.

    It shakes out like this:
    Someone comes up with something that works. In this case ‘princess’ branding enjoyed some moderate success. The choice is to take risks and keep trying in a new direction, or go with what they know has worked recently. When everything rides on the figures of the next quarter it is a no-brainer. You go with the slight success but push it farther. This is not just one toymaker, it is every major toymaker, and every major TV producer, and everyone financing movies.

    Anything that seems to work gets copied and taken farther. What started as a simple princess doll, becomes a line of princess dolls, then a princess accessories, and, in time, entire lines of pink crap to drown your kids in. Princess clothing, princess dolls, princess toys, princess bed linens and bathroom accessories, and entire lines of princess wallpaper, carpets, drapes, and paint.

    This is why so many movies, TV shows, etcetera, all are variations on a theme. Generally the trend is to push a single theme until the market collapses and then to move onto the next theme.

  24. theobromine says

    No one has said that girls can’t have abilities or preferences that are not typical for their sex.

    Not so much that girls can’t *have* these things, but lots of people do say that displaying non-normative behaviours is something to be discouraged, or at the very least hidden from public view. If a little girl likes sports or trucks or mechanical things, or even worse, if a little boy likes pink and soft and sparkly things, better guide them away from such preferences – otherwise they might get bullied.

    As for poise and grace and kindness, these things are all very nice things for children of all genders to aspire to. But the increasing dichotomy between boys as superheros and girls as princesses (or perhaps brides of superheroes) is really very discouraging. Anyone remember Robert Munch’s Paper Bag Princess*? Now there’s a role model for girls (and boys).

    *Plot summary from Wikipedia:
    Princess Elizabeth plans on marrying Prince Ronald, who is practically perfect. However, a dragon arrives who destroys her kingdom, kidnaps Ronald, and burns all her clothes (rendering her naked) so that she has no choice but to wear a paper bag. Elizabeth follows the dragon and Ronald, and seeking to rescue her fiancé, challenges the dragon to burn forests with fire and to fly around the world. The dragon completes the tasks but after flying around the world a second time becomes tired and falls asleep. Elizabeth rescues Ronald, who is ungrateful and tells her to return when she looks more like a princess. Elizabeth calls Ronald out for his ungratefulness and goes dancing off into the sunset.

  25. John Morales says

    A princess is a princess by virtue of whose spermatozoon fertilised a woman’s ovum to be her biological father; it’s not a status that one can achieve for themselves.

    I prefer Ophelia’s to Gemma’s take on the significance of its semiotics.

  26. m.c. simon milligan says

    Lionel trains for girls.

    And just a few years later Gretsch doubled down. “We need a version of our Stingray for girls. Pink? Princess?” Yep;

    Gretsch Pink Princess

    The results were just as successful. Gretsch sold a lot more Princesses in cream and gold but still not enough to produce them for more than two years. Apparently they were a lot more successful selling Stingrays to women after they changed the neck in 1964 making it a bit thinner.

  27. carbonfox says

    Grasshopper, just to clarify, I was referring to commenters on the Atlantic piece, not to you. I also didn’t mean to imply that the commenters were necessarily Christian; I was just drawing a parallel between the circular reasoning used by Christian fundies and the circular reasoning used by those commenters.

  28. AMM says

    As someone (male) who probably would have enjoyed dressing up as a princess when I was a kid, if it hadn’t been utterly unthinkable for a boy to do anything “girlish”, I kind of wish we could keep “princess”, even Disney princess, as an option for kids (and grownups!), but not restrict it to one sex / gender. Just as fantasizing being a baseball star or a superhero or a construction vehicle operator or whatever should be an option for anyone.

    In the same way, I wouldn’t mind adjectives like “masculine” and “feminine” if they weren’t used to identify which activities are compulsory or prohibited to which half of the human species.

  29. says

    Well fantasy of any kind is an option for boys as well as girls, even without any Disney involvement. You can make or buy or adapt props without having to buy a packaged Disney princess kit in a box.

  30. theobromine says

    Re “masculine” and “feminine” – what do those terms even mean without reference to gender-normative behaviour? And as many people have pointed out, that which is gender-normative is variable through time an across cultures – pink used to be a “masculine” colour, frilly clothes were all the rage for men in the 1700s, etc.

  31. AMM says

    Ophelia Benson @32

    Well fantasy of any kind is an option for boys as well as girls, even without any Disney involvement.

    Where is this utopia where “fantasy of any kind is an option for boys ….”? (I’m leaving out “girls” only because I can’t speak from personal experience about what girls face.)

    In the world I grew up in and, as far as I can tell, the world I live in today, a boy who shows any interest in “girlish” things is likely to get corrected pretty damn quick. That this not only hasn’t changed but has intensified over time is the point of the original article, I thought. There are a few highly publicized stories of children whose parents are supportive of their gender non-conforming ways, but that’s because they’re the exceptions. And even they face constant harrassment from schools, other children, and other children’s parents for failing to abide by gender norms.

  32. badgersdaughter says

    Oh for the sake of feck :) I’m a princess, if by that you mean the female direct-line scion of an appropriate aristocrat. I’m an engineering student and former IT trainer, I played D&D with the boys in the 80s, I never preferred pink and frilliness (red and lush for me, even when I was small, thank you). I was never brought up with middle-class finishing-school femininity. Grace and poise, yes, but in the sense of a fencer, not in the sense of a fashion model. Not so much kindness, as noblesse oblige; my family aren’t saints by any stretch of the imagination. Slytherin would be closer. :)

  33. Uncle Ebeneezer says

    I recently dyed my mohawk pink as a small attempt to make a statement on this stuff. My hope being that somebody would make a wise comment about it or question it and I could explain to them that I think restrictive gender norms are BS and need to be jettisoned. Also to show boys and girls (especially my niece, nephew and the kids at the tennis courts that I play at regularly) an example of somebody breaking them. Only problem is nobody has taken the bait. All I’ve gotten is compliments. Just yesterday I got them from a guy on a motorcycle in his 20’s who said “Dude that’s the sickest mohawk ever,” and two older men (one white, one black, both in their 50-60’s) who just said “I like your hair.” So that’s good. But I’m guessing if I were a child or if I lived in Middle-America or the South (rather than Los Angeles surrounded by liberal friends) the responses would be different.

  34. BeyondUnderstanding says

    Uncle Ebeneezer @37

    Eh, I think over the past decade or so, the color pink has less of a stigma than it did. You can find many a frat, “dudebro” type guys wearing bright hot pink polos. Also, a mohawk is inherently PUNK in style, which allows more freedom in terms of breaking societal norms.

    I think it has less to do with where you are, and more to do with you being an adult. Kids are so much more vicious. Their world is dog eat dog. You could probably rock a Barbie backpack and everyone would assume you’re just being ironic (especially with the mohawk). But a average 10 year old with a pink Barbie backpack would get torn to shreds within minutes.

  35. BeyondUnderstanding says

    It doesn’t have to be this way. While gender is what’s traditionally used to sort target markets, the toy industry (which is largely run by men) could categorize its customers in a number of other ways—in terms of age and interest, for example. (This could arguably broaden the consumer base.) However, the reliance on gender categorization comes from the top

    I don’t know. I definitely don’t think having ridged dividing lines for children’s toys are a good thing, don’t get me wrong. But this is starting to sound a bit on the conspiracy theory side of things. I mean, isn’t it obvious? Targeted markets = more money. That’s why they sell gender specific shower gels and razors. An average household has a mix of men and women. Now, most showers have two kinds of shampoo and soaps, where they would have had only one. Brothers and sisters don’t share toys, they each have their own. The more they can divide us up by age, gender, you name it… they more shit they can sell us.

    This painted portrait of top corporate men, smoking cigars, policing gender boundaries… for the sake of what? The patriarchy? I don’t know. If anything, it’s for the sake of profits. Even if these top men do believe in strict gender norms (which is a very real possibility), do you think they’d sacrifice their bottom-line to uphold these views? If corporate America has taught me anything, it’s that profits come before everything else.

  36. says

    Two kinds of soaps? Really? There’s girl soap and boy soap? First I’ve heard of it. And shampoo too – isn’t shampoo pretty generic? Deodorants are gender-split though, which is pretty absurd.

    Anyway I don’t see it. It’s not a matter of dolls for girls and dolls for boys. It’s not at all clear to me that dividing toys by gender=bigger sales.

  37. bigwhale says

    Gender neutral options are available but usually cost more. The effects are felt most by the lower economic classes.

  38. says

    Beyond – huh. I took a look at the soap section of the (big chain) drugstore in my nabe yesterday, along with the lotion section. Most soap is just soap, with no gender connotations. Most, but not all. Nivea has some stuff For Men.

    And there is some color coding going on – some dark blue and black packaging of shower gels and the like.

    Still – I don’t really see how that’s a particularly crafty marketing move. It won’t sell more of the stuff…except I suppose there will be two useless little soap slivers thrown out instead of one. It all adds up, I guess.

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