“Why is pink for girls and blue for boys?”- Arush (3 years old)
This simple question from Arush got the whole Bookyboo team thinking. Arush’s simple question made us re-evaluate all the content and design. Even though we are a team of progressive parents and educationists who absolutely believe in gender equality, we had unintentionally propagated a gender differentiation and stereotype. When we launched our first Bookyboo personalised book – My Amazing Treasure Hunt in India, the first version had a pink cover for girls and a blue one for boys.
On the surface pink for girls and blue for boys seems to be harmless, but it’s the starting point from which we begin treating boys and girls differently. Unknowingly, we start seeding into their little minds that they fit into a box called ‘BOY’ or ‘GIRL’ which are very different, focusing far more on the gender rather than the child’s individuality. Slowly, over time and exposure to various people, media and social customs, gender roles and expectations are drilled into their little minds. Now, you may ask what is the problem with this?
Each child is much, much more than just a girl or a boy. Some children are more observant, some more sensitive, some more physically active, some need more touch, some are more independent and prefer self-learning, some seek more guidance… and none of these have anything to do with the child being a girl or boy. All these individual traits lead to different behaviours… more physically active girls would prefer sports, playing with Nerf guns and even superheroes (traditionally boy activities), while a more observant boy may be more artistically inclined preferring to paint, collect nature for art or even baking (girl stuff they say!). So then is it right to set behavioural expectations just because a child is a boy or girl? Or should we as parents be celebrating their individuality and encouraging the resulting behaviour regardless of the gender?
At Bookyboo, we strongly believe every child is different. We want to nurture and celebrate their individuality and give them the confidence to maximise their own potential rather than fitting into a preset expectation. This is why, from the time Arush alerted us about our responsibility towards our little heroes, we are very conscious of how we manage gender roles in all Bookyboo content. The pink and blue book covers were done away with and the book cover was re-designed to appeal to all children. All our personalised books are unisex and designed to appeal to many different kinds of kids. Of course, depending on their age and natural characteristic each will take away different things from the books, but each one will definitely feel elated, empowered and celebrated for just being themselves!
We really appreciate that leading children’s content creators are also trying to avoid propagating gender stereotypes. Disney sets a great example for how their content has evolved with time. From being the creators of the original damsels in distress and shy princess in stories like Rapunzel and Snow White, to strong female heroes like Moana and Elsa & Anna from Frozen; and more sensitive movies like Inside Outside which is a must watch for all children and parents.
So, let’s all Reboot 2020 and do our part to avoid stereotyping. Let’s try to be more conscious of the subtle messages we are sending our children, be more sensitive towards their characteristics and celebrate each child’s individuality!
Wishing all parents and little ones a wonderful 2020!