ARTICLE: Girls’ Toys: why so pink?

By Belinda Love, Feb 2014


Recently, Mattel launched ‘Entrepreneur Barbie’ at the American International Toy Fair in New York.

Clad in a hot Mattel-pink businessy wiggle dress, and accessorising with her essential entrepreneurial tools of a smartphone and tablet, this forms part of Barbie’s “I Can Be” career line launched in 2010 in an effort to show and encourage up-to-date careers for women. The range has also included computer engineer, president, and astronaut.

I’m baffled as to whether I like the idea or not. I think I’m fifty-fifty?

I like the acknowledgment that women can play a significant role in business, and have the same ability as men to spark new, creative and profitable concepts and products. I like the fact there are four ethnicities, and I even like the fact that I, personally have a business frock, smartphone, tablet (er…and handbag and heels etc) – perhaps one of the first times a career-related Barbie I don’t feel I have to work too hard to achieve (such as owning my own riding stables, veteranary surgery, or …rocket ship?).


But, good grief I do wish her ankles looked more stable! Like the project this lovely artist worked on to show a more realistic Barbie doll:


Apparently our dear Barbie has had over 150 jobs in her time-irrelevant life. I know she’s immortal (and fictional) but is there actually a University course Barbie?

<quickly searches>

Oh…I see:


…well at least she’s not exclusively in PINK I guess. And at least this is some evidence that she spent SOME time in a course of study before embarking on all these career paths.


While doing my masters at University, one of the assessments on my course of study was to conduct and deliver a market anaylsis on a particular film audience market. I didn’t have an immediate idea as to which market I would analyse, until someone suggested watching the boxset of Legally Blonde I and II. Not, my normal cup-of-tea, but I was assured it was a must-watch from a critical perspective. By the Gods I thought it was awful. Laughable even. In fact I belly-laughed a lot. But in the same way I burst out laughing when I first saw the Spice Girls ‘Wannabe’ video, or Britney Spears’ ‘Oops I did It Again’ video. As I quickly realised that they weren’t in fact jokes or spoofs, they were in fact genuine, and moreover…EXTREMELY popular. A-ha! I had found my market to analyse; and delivered a suitably artistically scathing report; but nevertheless accurate, respectful and admiring of its impressively high numbers and market bouyancy. Just for added irony, I handed it in on PINK paper scented with Coco Chanel. It just gave it that little something…extra (for any Legally Blonde fans out there).


We know that Barbie has always had a thing for PINK don’t we? Terrifyingly though when I think of ladies with a rather significant penchant for PINK, I don’t see a whole bunch of difference between exhibit A and exhibit B below:

Or for example this stupid lady (no really…I wasn’t just being mean – she actually WANTS to be stupider):

(Dear Lady, I’m concerned your next moves might be to have your nipples removed, sew up your foo, or even try to have yourself hollowed out.) (By the way, Barbie’s jugs are not that big – by quite a lot).


But what, for the love of the whole frigging colour spectrum, is the recent obsession toy manufacturers have with moving more and more products to PINK, just for girls (supposably), – all about? Exhibit C here shows that we have now been allocated OUR OWN bricks (presumably because we were having too much fun with the boys’ ones and they wanted them back?), and Exhibit D shows that even our own gender-conventional toys have been given a PINKover (I’m sure I had a brown pram, and it was fine, and it was made better).


One of my own personal favourite toys (one of the few I had that wasn’t a piece of string or a lump of coal [crofter]) was this epic toy which gave me YEARS of entertainment (and was also really well made):

I ALWAYS wanted some LEGO of my very own, and STAR WARS toys of course. But I had to go visit my male friends to play with theirs – look at this fantastic 80s ad for LEGO (that’s what I’m talking about – that was pretty much me, only wearing MUCH MORE BROWN).

And here she is now:

I’ve heard of specific compalints about LEGO recently from parents, and indeed from little ladies themselves: |–just-let-toys-be-toys-9128078.html

Some folks have taken issue with the number of or portrayal of female characters in the otherwise five star rated “The LEGO Movie”:

And there’s even talk of a smaller pinker girlier version of the movie: (they’ve actually got a job title called “Head of Marketing and Gender Separation”?)


Some might say it is the resposibility of the parents who purchase the toys. But not all parents are taking this sitting down:

The GoldieBlox toy company has deliberately run with this edge and wants to “show the world that girls deserve more choices than dolls and princesses”:


But could this all have started out with the best of intentions? Logically speaking, perhaps the toy companies were trying to widen interest in more unconventional play, career and life interests for girls by tempting them with pink versions?:

Look GIRLS! It’s LEGO! Did you know YOU could build too! And we’ve popped it in a handy large massive PINK brick for you (because we know how you like to be organised and stylish)

Look GIRLS! Just think! You too can be a musician and play outrageous instruments like the DRUMS (see how we’ve made it pink so you know it’s ok?)

Have you seriously thought about the potential of a career in agriculture? Don’t write off farming just yet (look see? And the pig poo wipes off a treat)

Amelia Earhart. Just saying!

Geekdom isn’t just for boy geeks too! (Look how more female friendly Darth and Halo person look now they’re doused in PINK)

Good news Girls! You can also use an offensive weapon! (See how we’ve cleverly doused one in PINK so you know which one you should have?)


[I have no cheeky caption for this – what the smeg?]


Are we being too hard on PINK? Here’s a few REALLY COOL PINK THINGS just to make up for all the pink bashing:




Articles/ links on PINK toys topic:

The Telegraph: “Now’s the time to end the boys’ and girls’ toys gender divide”

– “In the run up to Christmas now’s the time to drop the damaging “blue for boys, pink for girls” toyshop nonsense and for children’s retailers to join the 21st century argues”. Eleanor Muffitt, Dec 2013:

Independent: “Gender-neutral toys: Why dressing your daughter in pink ‘damages the future of our economy'”
– “Jenny Willott MP and Labour’s Chi Onwurah explain why limiting children’s play may impact their future career choices and hurt British industry”. Felicity Morse, Feb 2014: “Lego Sets For Girls – Cheap Shot Or Good Idea?” “This Goldieblox Video Proves That Girls Want More Than Just Pink Toys”: “Kids Toys More Gendered Than Ever”:

Daily Mail: “Pink Stinks: Parents Urged To Boycott Shops That Sell ‘Sexist’ Toys For Girls”. Sophie Freeman, Dec 2009: “Young Kids Defy Gender’s Color Association”. Nicole Breanne, Jan 2012: “A Rethink On Pink Toys For Girls’ Christmas Presents In 2010?”. Amy Allen, Dec 2010: “Toy companies: Please please please stop ignoring what girls really want. (Hint: it’s not always pink.)”: “6 Classic Toys That Have Made the Switch to Pink”: Rebecca Gruber, Nov 2013:


Articles on Entrepreneur Barbie launch:

Forbes: “Mattel’s Latest Affront To Little Girls: Entrepreneur Barbie”. Clare O’Connor, Feb 2014:

Techcrunch: “Entrepreneurship Barbie Isn’t A Bad Idea Actually”. Alexia Tsotsis, Feb 2014:

Entrepreneur: “Introducing Entrepreneur Barbie”. Linda Lacina, Feb 2014:

Time: “New ‘Entrepreneur Barbie’ Proves That the Perfect Work/Life Balance Is Just a Tiny Tablet Away (An entrepreneur of what, exactly?)”. Jessica Roy, Feb 2014:

Daily Mail: “New Entrepreneur Barbie featuring a tiny tablet and smartphone aims to be the ‘chief inspiration officer’ to modern girls”:

Business Insider: “The Newest Barbie Is An Entrepreneur With A Tiny Tablet And Smartphone”. Hayley Peterson, Feb 2014:


Misc: “Want to look like Barbie? Think again…”. Aug, 2012: “14 Lessons To Learn From Barbie” “Mattel Exec Defends Barbie’s Unrealistic Proportions, Says They Don’t Affect Girls’ Body Image”. Rebecca Pahle, Feb 2014: “Happy 30th Anniversary Black Barbie (or 29th)…”: “Barbie Basics From Ebony To White” “The Naked Truth: Barbie Without Makeup” “What Barbite Looks Like In Fat”