Selling gender stereotypes to teens and pre-teens

Elle, PhD noticed a little something (ok, a big something) about how some science kits are marketed to kids:

(Image via Elle, PhD)

She notes:

And while the “boy’s” kit promises to boost your brain… the “girl’s” kit promise to relax you and let you experiment with different fragrances. The boy’s box is also covered with words like “go wild” and “erupt” and “blow your mind,”while the only thing that promises to be exciting about the girl’s is the foaming and frothing of bubbles.

Then reader Maggie sent along a link to One-A-Day vitamins for teens:

It says, under the picture:

- Healthy muscle function with Magnesium (for Him)
- Healthy skin with Vitamins A and C, Copper, and Iron (for Her)

(Emphasis mine.) These are only two examples — things I’d probably just roll my eyes at in the store and walk on by — but it’s worth pausing sometimes and thinking about how pervasive this messaging is. These aren’t even cosmetic products! They’re selling science kits and vitamins on the stereotype that girls want to smell nice and have soft skin, not strong muscles and big brains.


Heels for Babies: Not Funny.

Who needs credit cards when you have a junior vagina?

Barbie Girls and the culture of consumption

Because you’re never too young to start adhering to patriarchal norms

Padded bras for six year-olds

Branded: The Buying and Selling of Teenagers by Alissa Quart

Packaging Girlhood: Rescuing Our Daughters From Marketers’ Schemes by Sharon Lamb and Lyn Mikel Brown

Then to cheer yourself up, check out New Moon and Teen Voices, which provide non-stereotype-laden takes on girlhood today.

Join the Conversation