PINKSTINKS’ NEW CHRISTMAS CAMPAIGN
“You can make a difference, even if it seems impossible.”
Those are the words of 13 year old Philip Johansson from Sweden.
Around this time last year Philipe, his classmate Ebba Silvert and a group of school friends decided that the Christmas catalogue of US toy giant Toys ‘R’ Us wasn’t for them. They were so outraged that the boys in the catalogue were portrayed as active and the girls as passive, they formulated a case and reported the store to Sweden’s Advertising Ombudsman.
Agreeing with the children, the authority declared the Toys ‘R’ Us catalogue “discriminates based on gender and counteracts positive social behaviour, lifestyles, and attitudes” and the company was issued with a public reprimand.
Because of those children, this year the catalogue is set to change.
If you’ve taken a look at our ‘Voices’ page, you’ll know we interviewed Philipe and Ebba as a great examples of positive role models. They fought for something they believed in and they made a difference.
Pinkstinks wants to make that kind of difference too. We want to show toy companies that girls don’t have to be prissy in pink, indeed as the Swedish youngsters proved – they don’t always want to be.
This Christmas and every Christmas, we want girls to know they can be whatever they want to be, regardless of what retailers want to sell them. We believe that companies have a responsibility and a duty to encourage girls to use their imaginations and be inspired to explore, as widely as they can, the world of possibilities that is out there for them.
To do this, we need your help …
Early Learning Centre – Early Learning Emergency
At Early Learning Centre, we do all we can to help mums help children grow into happy, self-confident people.
We create fantastic toys – toys that help develop vital skills, toys that help children get off to the best possible start, and toys that are tremendous fun.
All our toys are designed to help children explore the boundaries of their imaginations and creativity, to make learning fun and help children be all they can be.
– Early Learning Centre ‘mission statement’ on their UK website
Mention its name and for many adults the Early Learning Centre will invokes happy memories of wooden toys and educational flash cards. Its ‘mission’ statement supports this ideology, but a quick glance at its catalogue and a walk around its stores tells quite a different story.
Pinkstinks believes the Early Learning Centre is acting irresponsibly.
In our opinion, the pages of passive, beauty-centred products in its catalogue, and a website where the search facility groups toys by gender, seem to suggest that for today’s children ‘the boundaries of their imaginations’ are being sadly limited. It’s too rigid and sorrowfully reminiscent of an era when expectations for girls were restricted to the roles of wife and mother. The Early Learning Centre doesn’t seem to be offering or actively promoting a choice for girls outside of normative gender constructs. In the stores there are no labels explicitly stating that some toys are for ‘boys’ and others for ‘girls’, but walk through the doors and immediately the swathes of pastel pink all along one side clearly signpost to a child what’s for them and what isn’t. Girls go one way, boys another – without even thinking about it. And we’re not convinced having a few pictures of girls playing with construction toys and making an ironing board available in pink and blue is enough. It feels like tokenism and we expect and hope for more from companies like the Early Learning Centre. We don’t believe this is real choice – more an illusion of choice.
The Early Learning Centre is by no means the sole culprit when it comes to gender stereotyping. It is not exclusively to blame and it didn’t cause the problems we now see arising. Pinkstinks does not wish to demonise the Early Learning Centre, it’s just that we anticipate and expect more from it. As a company which specifically promotes itself in relation to ‘learning’ and which so strongly states its good intentions, we want it to openly and publicly recommit to promoting positive learning experiences for children – boys and girls – which are non-gender specific, exciting and stimulating for all.
Join us in showing the Early Learning Centre that as mums and dads, concerned citizens, individuals and importantly as consumers, we want more for our girls and boys. Help us remind the company it has a corporate responsibility to abide by its ‘mission statement’ and help children grow into “happy, self-confident people” unhindered by narrow and damaging messages about what it is to be a girl or a boy.
Pinkstinks has come a long way since its humble beginnings. Born out of the frustration of two sisters and grown into what it is today with a little help from their friends, Pinkstinks is ready to take on a giant and we hope you come along for the ride. But we don’t just want to moan and complain, we want to assist the Early Learning Centre in improving its service to children. We want to help it be the best that it can be.
So come, be a part of something great and maybe this time next year the Early Learning Centre’s Christmas catalogue will have changed too.
Let’s follow the lead of Philipe, Ebba and their friends, because those 13 years olds proved that you can make a difference and sometimes, just sometimes, the underdogs do win!
Visit our website for our call to action – this is what we want you to do to support the campaign.