A father has called out a department store for marketing a space themed lunch box just to boys.
UK politician Joshua Peck took a photo of a navy lunchbox he found in British retailer John Lewis that had a tag, which read: “Boys space print lunchbox”.
The Tower Hamlets cabinet member tweeted @johnlewisretail on Tuesday 1 November and said: “Hey @johnlewisretail, What is it about this lunchbox which makes it unsuitable for my daughter?
He added: “Too science-y?” before tagging in @LetToysBeToys – an advocacy group which aims at stopping retailers from limiting children’s imaginations by creating gender specific toys.
The “disappointed” dad said it wasn’t the first time he’d noticed the department store had encouraged binary notions of gender.
He retweeted a post from 2013 where he asked John Lewis why their pirate ship toy was marketed only at boys.
The twitterverse was quick to react with many echoing the father’s frustration.
“That's disgraceful. Why don't they want girls to do become astronauts?” wrote one user.
“Grrr. My girls currently in their (boys) space pjs sleeping under a ceiling solar system,” added another.
A John Lewis spokesperson told HuffPost UK and said: “We’re really sorry that a one-off labelling error meant that our Space Print School Lunchbox was marked incorrectly.
They added that they were looking into “correcting” the labels as soon as possible.
“We understand the importance of providing girls and boys with as much choice as possible, and in recent years we’ve changed our childrenswear and toy ranges so that they’re not categorised by gender.”
According to the Let Toys Be Toys website gender-stereotyped marketing puts limits on play – and play is important for children to develop a variety of skills.
As per the Let Toys Be Toys website:
“Play is crucial to how children develop and learn about the world. In education it’s recognised that children need access to a range of toys and play experiences. Toys focused on action, construction and technology hone spatial skills, foster problem solving and encourage children to be active. Toys focused on role play and small-scale theatre allow them to practise social skills. Arts & crafts are good for fine motor skills and perseverance.”
“Boys and girls need the chance to develop in all these areas, but many stores divide toys into separate boys’ and girls’ sections. Action construction and technology toys are predominantly marketed to boys while social role play and arts and crafts toys are predominantly marketed to girls. Both boys and girls miss out this way.”
We wonder if John Lewis knows that the first British person in space was actually a woman named Helen Sharman?
The reaction of every old-school marketing exec to that tidbit...