Let Toys Be Toys, Girls and Boys, Gender Stereotyping

This Is For Girls, And That Is For Boys

I can’t even begin to tell you how much rage “that’s for girls, that’s for boys” makes me feel. Pretty angry to be honest, especially when it’s said to my daughter. I remember learning about gender stereotypes when I was 14 and it shook me then with so much anger. I was determined that if I ever had children, and at 14 I was pretty adamant I never would, never tell them something was for girls and something was for boys because it is a massive lie. A teacher got us to look through the Argos catalogue and see who was playing with trains and mechanic sets and who was playing with dolls and kitchens. It’s still done to this day. It is reinforcing that girls are the homemakers, the babymakers, the cooks, cleaners, the mothers and that’s all they are good for. It’s showing that boys will grow up to do and be, and girls will be left behind. Girls and boys can play, do, be whatever they want to be. They have choices. That is just a simple fact that so many people want to battle against. So many people say oh no you can’t play with that. But what really annoys me most is that it’s not really my daughter that’s told she can’t do this, that or the other but other little boys who are told they can’t play with “girls” things.

I mean, I have an incredibly pink daughter. She loves dressing up, collecting Shopkins and colouring. She also runs incredibly fast, is super strong and active, is fearless and eats so much food. I am talking all the food here. She isn’t afraid to throw a ball around, she gets filthy and have I said she runs fast? She has so much energy. She can be quite reserved at times and yes I suppose I would describe her as feminine. When I was growing up my sister was not the same as me. I was quite feminine growing up and my sister was not. She was boisterous, she threw things, she liked football and can I just say she’s was really good at it. She was a bit scruffy, she doesn’t really do makeup and the first time I saw her in a dress (where she didn’t negotiate carrying a toy gun and a sheriffs badge) was her prom at sixteen. I have never heard anyone say to her that she shouldn’t play football and she should dress nicer because she’s a girl. I don’t really think the issue is with girls.

Now I believe that every parent makes the right decision for bringing up their children. I also believe that children will pick the toys they want to play with. I know a lot of boys that choose cars over dolls and a lot of girls that do the opposite. I know some that do both. Neither option is wrong and children should be free to choose. I know that there are girls that like “girly” things and there are boys that want to hulk smash and play cars all the time. That is completely fine. What I absolutely hate is when my daughter hears that something is for girls, and something is for boys. That boys shouldn’t play with dolls, with makeup, with dressing up things. It doesn’t matter if they’re not interested in it, please don’t say that some things are for girls in front of my daughter. Please don’t say that boys can’t do this, that or the other. It is a horrible thing to say.

What you are effectively saying to my daughter when you say boys can’t play with this, is that only girls should. It’s reinforcing gender stereotypes. It’s so much bigger than just girls and boys playing with toys. Saying it over and over and over is going to make my daughter believe that if she ever sees a boy playing with something he shouldn’t she will feel it’s wrong. You are pushing your stereotypes onto my child and that is not how I parent. I never, ever tell her things are just for boys and just for girls because it is not true. I want my daughter to grow up confident in her own mind that she can do what she wants. If she wants to be a homemaker and raise loads of kids then I will love and support her choice, if she wants to have a city career I will help push her to the top and if she wants to do both then I will be there as her cheerleader.

If I ever have a son and he wants to play with dolls, dress up as a Disney princess and push prams I will buy him what he wants. If he wants to play video games, play football and run all the time I will support him and if he wants to do both then that is absolutely fine with me. I will never, ever tell him that he can’t have what he want’s because it’s “just for girls.” Just because he wants to do things that others might consider girly or feminine will not “turn him gay”. Do you know what it will do? It will lead him into a happy fulfilled life where he fully knows himself and isn’t at risk of suppressing how he feels. It will ensure that he is respectful to women and other men, that he will accept people for their choices that they make in their lives because he has been allowed to do so on his own.

The point is that there are some amazing men out in the world that are makeup artists, chefs, cooks and of course amazing fathers. There are women that are fantastic politicians, bankers, city careers and mothers at the same time. They became who they are because they were allowed to discover what they loved, hopefully free from stereotypes.

You can let your child play with whatever you want. But please don’t tell my daughter that this is for girls, and that is for boys. 

This Is For Girls, That Is For Boys, The problems with gender stereotyping

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Mummy in a Tutu


  1. I can’t stand that phrase either. I ran a home daycare and I banished those words from every adult vocabulary. Kids can play with any toy they want! Some girls will love princess things, but I don’t want them to love it because they’ve been told that’s what they should love. And the same goes for boys, they can love a princess or play with race cars. #bigpinklink

  2. I have always subconsciously gone for blue, brown and blacks for boys and pink, purple and white for girls. I guess its so prominent in our culture now its hard not to get sucked in by it. What i have never done is said ‘that’s for boys, or that’s for girls’ and i have always taken lead from my kids.

    My son now happily wears dresses and more ‘feminine’ (i say this loosely) clothing. We recently went shopping for a skirt as he really wanted one. I love how he feels comfortable doing this with me, but also sad as he will only wear the items in the safety of our home.

    I guess he already understands how society view those who fly against the norm. I am all for building him up though, and helping him to be individual in whichever way he feels that is.

    1. Author

      I think it’s so important to be lead by your kids choices isn’t it?! After all it’s really about them and what they love! I know what you mean it’s ingrained so strongly in our society to always go for what we believe is typically girly or for boys but yes when people say that it really grates on me!

  3. Amen Sista! I’m a huge believer in toys are toys and clothes are clothes and who plays with or wears what shouldn’t matter. I’m loving John Lewis’s move to remove the gender split in their clothes range!

    1. Author

      Yes I’ve seen that too I really like that range and love the fact that these conversations are opening up so many more options for children to really choose what they want because of what they like not what society feels is appropriate for them!

  4. Ugh, I hate that phrase! It’s so constraining. I don’t understand how people can even think like that when it’s actively restricting the child. Goes to show how sexism can be so ingrained I suppose, although it’s good to see that these views are being challenged (see the recent John Lewis news) but there’s still lots of work to do (see the comments in the Daily Mail in the John Lewis story)

  5. Such a terrible phrase alright. I think this with books- why gender segregate them verbally ??! Form of censorship #bigpinklink

  6. I absolutely hate it when kids are being boxed into categories. So what if girls play with cars and trucks and boys play with dolls – it is all about choice and I believe a child should be allowed to explore all options and find what he/she loves. #DreamTeam.

  7. Oh I cringe when people say that boys can’t play with girls toys. As a mum of girls, I do think it’s easier as I think girls are allowed to play sports and play with cars these days, but there is still a thing about boys playing with dolls…. which is ridiculous really because, these days, we expect men to be very involved with their kids when they become fathers. We can’t tell them that they can’t play with dolls, and then suddenly expect them to look after a baby when it comes along – they’ve been told their whole lives that babies are for girls! #dreamteam

    1. Author

      I know it’s so silly isn’t it. It makes me cringe so much and yes I think girls are much more accepted for these type of things. Its just a shame the same fairness and acceptance isn’t extended to boys.

  8. We once went on holiday to Sweden and in the shops we went in there there were not ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ sections for little kids’ toys and even clothes, there were mostly just brightly coloured baby gros for either gender- it was so refreshing! #TacticalTuesdays

  9. I love this! When I first started buying baby clothes, I was shocked that everything was either pink or blue. My toddler loves her dinosaurs – AND her dollies.

  10. Yes I totally agree with you regarding toys. I think it’s awful how the girls stuff is all dolls. I do think a lot of children gravitate naturally towards the toys that reinforce gender stereotypes. Is that a cultural thing or is it just the difference between boys and girls? Anyway, I think toys should just be for all and there should be way more positive toys for girls, not just pretty dolls x #bloggerclubuk

    1. Author

      It’s also the way people say no boys can’t play with this and that. I don’t want my daughter to have that attitude because toys are for everyone. I feel like I’m always having to say no pink is for boys too, boys can play with girly things if they want, it’s just a toy/colour and their for everyone. It’s hard when you have people you know telling your child oh no boys don’t play with that, it’s just for girls. I think it’s all to do with language

  11. I have never pushed my boys to be boys myself. I always believed in letting the child make their own choices. I learned about student lead curriculum through college while studying Early Childhood Development. I loved the idea so much that I thought it would be great to bring that philosophy into the home. When both of my boys were babies I went for gender neutral themes like Winnie the Pooh. My oldest has always kinda chosen boy-like activities but my youngest loved both boy and girl things. When he was three he loved when I polished his nails. When he ws five he was into My Little Pony and had collected all of the ponies. Now he’s 10 and loves video games, Nerf guns, and building things but he also loves art and is always drawing something. The problem isn’t so much what adults are saying, at least around here but its what other kids are being taught and then bringing that mentality to school. It wears off on our kids unfortunately but I keep open conversations with him about being himself. #bloggerclubuk

  12. Great post. As a child I was not a boy-ish boy by the standards of the times and this was the 70s so you can imagine the horror when I wanted to play dressing up! I’ve now got two boys, one who is car and robot mad and thats fine and we will see what our baby wants to do, but I totally agree; let them choose what to play with and who to be. I think we are finally starting to move away from gender stereotypes but it is a long road and I think it’s one of the last battlegrounds in society. #bloggerclubuk

  13. I agree – why shouldn’t children be able to play with whatever toy they wish and wear what they want? I love seeing boys play with dolls – learning to care and nurture is so important. Fab post. Thanks for linking up with #TacticalTuesdays. See you next week! X

  14. This whole boy girl toy thing is a bit silly isn’t it. I have boy and girl and they both play equally with all the toys, be them dolls cars trains puzzles whatever. Letting them decide is key I think. You’ll never hear me say they can’t because it is for the other gender! #ablogginggoodtime

    1. Author

      I agree choice is what really matters and being lead by them and their decisions! It is silly and just such a waste of breathe saying this is for girls, that’s for boys!

  15. I totally agree – let kids choose what they like. If your daughter wants to wear pink and play with princesses – fine. If she wants to wear blue and play with trucks – also fine. To each their own. #ablogginggoodtime

  16. Agreed! It’s time this gender division comes to an end. I notice it so much with my son who loves art. If you go down the art aisle of the toy store, everything is pink which means it’s for girls to play with. He doesn’t feel like he wants to buy pink packaged toys but why should art be just for girls? I’m glad to see this issue being raised and hopefully erased! Thank you for sharing with us at #BloggerClubUK

  17. There needs to be freedom of choice for everyone. As a very strong girl physically and emotionally I hated being told what I could/couldn’t do and always rebelled against the stereotypes. Thank you for linking up to #ablogginggoodtime

  18. Oh this makes me so angry! We were absolutely fine until my son started school, then all of a sudden he started saying things like ‘that’s just for girls isn’t it’ when an advert for barbie or something similar came on tv. It made me so angry that he was clearly being told things like that at school! I’ve just kept reinforcing the idea that no, toys aren’t just for girls or for boys, they’re for whoever wants to play with them! x #BloggerClubUK

    1. Author

      I know it’s so frustrating!! I think it’s other children saying it which is really tough because it’s what they’re parents and relatives are saying to them! The more it’s nipped away wth our kids hopefully they will do the same with theirs and the archaic attitude will phase out!

  19. This post is so on-point at the moment, with lots going on in general about products and activities being overly pushed towards being for girls or boys. I completely agree that, in this day and age, it’s very narrow minded to so clearly define who should be doing/playing with what. I have to admit, there is a well known toy shop who make gender into such a big deal that I would prefer shopping elsewhere, and I mostly do. When all lego and robotic toys are in the boys section it makes my heart sink. Thanks so much for sharing with the #Dreamteam x

    1. Author

      Thank you. It is very narrow minded! My daughter and I both love Lego and the creative possibilities it holds. It’s frustrating when toy companies market this way!

  20. Equality and empathy. If they grow up with those things, they can be anything they want to be, play with anything they want to play with, and break some glass ceiling when they grow up. Love this post! TY! #ablogginggoodtime xoxo

  21. I hate that too! The other day I heard my daughters telling Harry that he couldn’t play with their dolls because they are for girls, and I found it sad that, although I have never said such things, they have somehow gathered through nursery and school, that there are stereotypical girls and boys toys. #bigpinklink

    1. Author

      It is sad and it’s very frustrating that they learn it at school although I imagine it’s from other children than teachers in most cases!

  22. It’s a pointless outdated phrase isn’t it? I can’t tell you the number of disagreement I’ve had with my brother in law over things like this. His dismay at my having bought a little pushchair for Zach when we were expecting Oscar (Zach now loves pushing Oscar’s pram!), and the photo of him having fallen asleep in the car with his dolly. Hugging her like he hugs her brother. Kids should quite simply be able to play with whatever they want to play with. Great post. Thanks for linking up with #TwinklyTuesday

    1. Author

      Thank you! Yes I’ve had similar disagreements and conversations with family too and it’s so frustrating! Incredibly outdated you’re so right there!

  23. Totally with you all the way. Why do people feel the need to push those sort of expectations on our kinds. The awkward thing is that boys are taught to avoid being ‘girly’ like the plague and not the other way round because women are seen as holing a lower social status. The toy gender push from adults, TV and other kids is promoting something very nasty about how women should be viewed. #dreamteam

    1. Author

      Yes I completely agree. It really feels like we seem to take one step forward and two steps back with this kind of thing and it really frustrates me. It really does make “girls things” look like the weaker toy and that’s not right or fair. Hopefully the more we encourage our children about choice, freedom of choice in others and to act without stereotype, judgement and prejudice the better we will all be.

  24. Perfect post. Let them play with what they like. Help them to grow and develop, do not limit them with gender stereotypes.

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