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What Happens When Target Thinks About the Future

Parents Want Gender-Neutral Options for their Kids.

In August of 2015, Target announced that it would be taking extra measures to be proactively conscious concerning gender issues affecting its customers and employees. Specifically, Target intended to phase out gender-based signage. This year, they’re taking another step toward dismantling gender stereotypes beginning with, interestingly enough, children’s home goods.

Target's new kids' home line, Pillowfort, debuted in-store and online in February with 1,200 items - including children’s beddings, decor, and furniture. The entire collection is a marriage of “fun-sized colors and patterns” with familiar Target style and value. So why should the typical Target shopper care about this new launch? Well, for one, Pillowfort isn’t designed with gender-specific colors in mind. In fact, the collection is designed to answer the demands of those parents who Target spokesperson Amy Goetz said, “really wanted more universal pieces."

Goetz told Upworthy, "[Parents wanted pieces] that they could mix and match between their kids' rooms, whether they’re a boy or girl.” The Star Tribune reported that the collections “prints and patterns are more open-ended: trees, arrows, astronauts and bicycles.” As Goetz notes,

Pillowfort isn't completely gender-neutral — customers can still find the blue and pink pieces that have traditionally been designed with a gender-binary in mind.

However items that have previously been designed with gender-specificities in mind – items like “basketballs, hearts, and alligators” have been designed with “more neutral colors such as white, black and yellow.”

Why so much concern about the colors of kids’ toys? Although some might find it easier to simply distinguish between their boy and girl children with two simple colors - blue and pink - it should be no surprise that in 2016, children’s desires and personal identifications are rapidly changing.

As Upworthy notes,

It may seem obvious, but it's worth noting that, no, girls don't naturally like pink anymore than boys do. Color association with gender is learned from a very young age, studies have found, and the toys marketed toward boys and girls can play a much bigger role in a kids' life than we might realize.

In line with this, Megan Fulcher, associate professor of psychology at Washington and Lee University, teaches us  that “Play with masculine toys is associated with large motor development and spatial skills, and play with feminine toys is associated with fine motor development, language development, and social skills. According to Fulcher, “Children may then extend this perspective from toys and clothes into future roles, occupations, and characteristics."

Everyday, more and more parents are committing to providing their children with all of the tools to live a healthy and self-actualized life. Target is committing to providing a little help along the way.

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