Northern Europe's largest toy retailer, Top-Toy, has caused some attention in the Swedish market with the release of their latest catalogue. The catalogue is being labeled as gender-neutral, and the images published definitely contradict the social normal. Images of the publication feature boys playing the stereotypical role that young girls normally play. For example, there is a boy blow drying a girl's hair wearing a fanny pack type waist bag with many hair accessories. There are both boys and girls playing in a toy kitchen, dressed in an apron and chef hat. It features a boy walking small, white feminine dog toys next to a white picket fence. In contrast, it also shows a little girl with her hair pulled back in a ponytail shooting a large nerf gun.
Top-Toy has actually released different catalogues for different areas. The Denmark catalogue does not feature these switched gender roles. It uses images following societies' norm. The company knows exactly what they are doing, for they are not hiding these issues in the media. They are using different marketing techniques for different demographics, and they have even highlighted the reason why. There has been a gender debate occurring in Sweden recently, and Top-Toy has been following it closely. They are representing a new, modern way of children's play, and they feel that the customers will appreciate this.
Thomas Meng, the retail marketing director, stated, "We want our catalogues to reflect the way boys and girls play in real life, and not present a stereotype image of them. If both girls and boys in Sweden like to play with a toy kitchen, then we want to mirror this pattern."
Top-Toy claims that all their customers in the Scandinavian market will begin to also experience more gender-neutral catalogues in the future. It is amazing to see this progression into modern civilization happening overseas. Sweden is one of the most progressive nations in the world. However, the United States is still so far away from something like this happening. The "greatest country in the world" is losing when it comes to accepting changing gender roles, sexuality, and marriage equality. It is hard to recognize it at times, but we are still progressing, just very slowly. There is a group of people in our nation that still haven't changed their traditional views amongst these changing times, and that is holding us back.