Boys should play with dolls. Girls should play with action figures. If they’d like to, of course.
In recent years, much has been said about gender and toys, but regardless of how play is marketed — it’s adults that continue to push archaic stereotypes upon kids. Play is play, and kids have a natural instinct to nurture and share companionship. It’s a subject I’ve written much about, such as when Mattel launched its “Dads Who Play Barbie” campaign and when PlayMonster took Wonder Crew national.
Still, while much has been said about crushing stereotypes and breaking down invisible walls so that girls have more inclusive play experiences, dolls are still a tough spot for some when it comes to boys at play. In fact, until a few years ago, you would’ve had a tough time finding a true boy doll. Recent years have seen the return of boy characters to the doll aisle and beyond, with male styles being added to American Girl, Our Generation, and Baby Alive. Of course, that doesn’t mean that boys should only play with boy dolls.
Hasbro is taking things up a step with the release of a new Baby Alive campaign titled “We All Can Take Care.” It wasn’t designed for the U.S. audience — but it carries a message that should resonate worldwide. Created for the toymaker by Ogilvy Brazil, the campaign aims to “reintroduce the doll as key in the development of children’s sense of responsibility, empathy, and respect.”
Its pretty appropriate that this comes from Hasbro. While boys may be a recent addition to the Baby Alive brand — a brand that Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner cites as showing “great momentum” this year — the company was marketing companion dolls to boys nearly 35 years ago.
Remember Playskool’s My Buddy?