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Swedish toy retailer publishes a gender-swapped catalogue

The company is the franchisee in the country of Toys 'R' Us

  • Key4Communications

Retailer Top Toy, which operates as a franchisee for Toys 'R' Us in Northern Europe, has published a catalogue for the Swedish market swapping traditional roles of children in some images. Thus, there are boys playing with dolls and girls firing guns. Also, the Danish version of the catalogue shows a girl with a pink shirt. This shirt is blue in the Swedish version, thanks to the magic of Photoshop.

This decision comes after the company was criticized years ago for reproducing antiquated gender roles. The company has launched this catalogue following the suggestions of the organization responsible for monitoring and self-regulating advertising in the country.

The goal, as explained Jan Nyberg, director of sales for the company, in a statement for the Tidningarnas Telegrambyra news agency, is to adjust to what Swedish citizens think about gender roles: "With the new gender thinking, there is nothing that is right or wrong. It's not a boy or a girl thing, it's a toy for children."

It is true that the behaviour of boys and girls concerning toys is changing: we recently published that brands traditionally thought for children, such as superheroes, are becoming more attractive to girls. Also, both boys and girls play increasingly with toys as kitchens or vehicles, as social roles are also changing. Likewise, both families and children are increasingly less concerned about the traditional gender division of toys, although this division can still be largely seen when boys and girls play.

The decision of the Swedish company is still surprising, as is apparent from the fact that specialized and general media worldwide have published headlines about the catalogue. And also because, for example, Spanish toy catalogues still reproduce these traditional roles, with girls playing with dolls, and boys with cars and action figures. Moreover, in the case of electric-powered cars, there are images of boys driving and girls as passengers.

Although professionals, experts, and families will agree that any toy can interest both boys and girls, the fact is that stereotipes, preconceptions, and habits are hard to change.

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