I don't often sound off about things on my blog, but this is something that has really gotten under my skin, so please bear with me! Being a scientist at heart I also managed to turn this rant/opinion piece into a little experiment...
Recently, when browsing the chocolate aisle for a late night snack in Sainsbury's, I came across a very confusing sight
I saw the blue tipped ones first and thought "Oooh they've changed the packaging" - then I saw the pink ones and honestly assumed they'd just made new, fun coloured packaging. It was only when I got home and saw the advert for new limited edition Kinder Surprise and realised - the pink one with toys for girls, and the blue one with toys for boys. The adverts showed the stereotypical, to-be-expected, things like cars for boys and pretty princesses for girls. This really gets under my skin.
In psychology at uni we looked in-depth at issues like gender bias and gender identification, and how heavily childhood development features. I'm sure that everyone has differing opinions about this, and some may not see it as an issue at all - but the early reinforcement of stereotypes is something I feel very strongly against and I don't like that such huge and influential companies like Kinder would reinforce that, especially not in this day and age.
I have always been a very strong minded person, especially as a child I was very sure in my convictions - I can remember that even at the tender age of seven I was so frustrated by gender bias (though of course I didn't know it then!). I used to sit and sulk watching the boys play football during lunchtime every day, I so badly wanted to play and I hated the idea that "only boys could play". There was no room for girls on the school team and the boys wouldn't let me join in during playtime - so I joined the under 11s team at my local football stadium instead and made an effort to really show the boys up during PE lessons. By no means was I a tomboy, I still had healthy share of Barbie dolls - I just didn't see why there should be "girls only" and "boys only" activities.
What I loved about Kinder Surprise as a kid (and indeed still now!), was the surprise part. I loved that you never knew what you were going to get. If it rattled I'd lay the chocolate aside and quickly get into the little yellow egg to find out what I got to build. It was an extra bonus if it came with stickers too. It was always a little disappointing when you just got a little figurine, but I did have quite a collection - I actually keep a little penguin on the dash of my car :) I feel like the surprise element might be lost slightly with these gender targeted eggs. I'm also pretty confident that I'd take a build-able item over a princess any day - and I'm pretty sure some of the girls in my class would agree too!
I decided to pop back to the shop and pick up some of the new gender specific Kinder eggs to see what sort of items you'd get for each colour. I opened the blue egg first and heard that very familiar rattle!
As expected, it was a car, with stickers (yay!) - when built you can use the grey bit at the back to fire the car off. Brilliant!
Now to the pink one... a little unexpectedly, this one also rattled!
All the parts of the bracelet came separately and could be assembled together very easily. There were also stickers to pop around the bracelet. I think it was unfortunate that I ended up with a pink one - I'm not a huge fan of pink and this really doesn't help the Kinder cause in light of this post. But I can see on the paper that they've got My Little Pony bracelets in other colours too. I do think this bracelet is cute and I was pleased that it still had an element of construction - honestly after seeing the advert I was literally just expecting a little princess figurine.
So, after conducting this little experiment, I suppose it's not totally as bad as I first thought. I'm still not happy with the coloured packaging, or convinced of the girls toys vs boy toys, and I still think that the whole charm of the Kinder Surprise was that you had no way of telling what you might get. I have to say, I'm glad that these are out for a limited time only.
What are your thoughts about the new Kinder Surprise packaging? I'm particularly interested in knowing if any of you are Mums, how you feel about this? Do you think children should experience reinforcement of gender stereotypes - or should they be allowed more freedom of choice? ♥
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