Earlier this month we saw the release of a new advert from Smyth’s the Toy Store which was hailed by campaigners as a step forward in the right direction for gender-neutral children’s toys.
In the ad, Smyth’s feature a young boy playing in his imagination, being a robot, flying the Millennium Falcon and dressed in a pink dress as a queen. Although not the main focus of the advert, the image of a boy in a typically female outfit has been applauded for its forward thinking and the nuanced way in which it portrayed the breaking of gender norms. This is only strengthened by the adverts choice of backing song- a cover of female pop icon Beyoncé’s ‘If I Were A Boy’, reimagined to read ‘If I Were A Toy’.
Rather than tackle the gendered toys themselves, Smyth’s have instead chosen to allow children to decide for themselves what toys are for them, and have given them the space to define their own version of masculinity and femininity as they wish.
Whilst depicting childhood play in this way would have once been considered a bold and daring move, the understated tone of this advert suggests the topic is becoming more and more normalised- It is now just another one of many themes toy brands can choose to engage with.