Today I visited Mothercare and Smyths toy store. I thought with it being half term and Christmas round the corner, now would be a good time (or crazy time) to go.
The first thing I notice as I walk into the Mothercare store is the sign on the wall; Clothes for Girls. This season’s colours (and pink of course!). There is the usual array of pink and blue and frills and super heroes when somewhere to the side of the clothes section I am met by the My K range. These clothes are not the kind I expected at all. They are obviously mostly unisex and refreshingly black, white, and grey. They are punchy with illustrative designs and gender neutral slogans. I must admit that there were plenty of other clothes that were not so fixed on the usual gender colours but these were so strikingly different. I came away from the store interested in them and would look into the brand when I went home later.
Even bottles are gendered now…
Smyths left me as disgruntled as I expected but with a couple of glimmers of hope. Most toys came with a pink version, just to make sure the girls would be interested in it. Like the pink magic set, or the pink digger, or the pink glitzy sparkly science sets labelled ‘brain activators’. The thing to be celebrated here is the fact the pink versions actually cost the same as the other; that will change later in life, grab that while you can! Just as I finished taking a picture of the Neon Science set, a man picks it up and says to one of his children that one of the others would “really like this as she is into science and that. Neon Science! And it has all the girly stuff too. Neon nails and that”. And that… There were a few silver linings were there were a boy and a girl on the box of items that would of usually been seen as gender specific. Hurrah for Bosch who possibly had the most gender neutral packaging that I had come across in Smyths.
I was also troubled by the disproportionate representation of white children to children of colour. This resonated across both shops, including dolls of colour and children pictured on the front of boxes. Over the ground floor in one of the stores, I counted three.