It’s hard to believe that over three decades ago, children across the world were glued to their TV screens, eagerly watching commercials advertising the latest and greatest toys. And while many of these commercials were filled with stereotypical gender roles and outdated messages, there were some hidden gems that delivered empowering messages to young girls. In this article, we’ll explore some of the greatest feminist messages that were hidden in 80s toy commercials.
The rise of feminist toy commercials
The 80s was a decade that saw significant strides for feminism in media and pop culture. Movies like Aliens and Terminator portrayed women as strong, capable, and equal to men. And it wasn’t just Hollywood that was embracing feminism – toy companies were also getting on board.
One of the most iconic feminist toys of the 80s was the She-Ra: Princess of Power action figures and dolls. While the toy line was marketed towards girls, it avoided the stereotypical gender roles that were often present in toy commercials at the time.
Breakdown of feminist messages in 80s toy commercials
1. Empowering language
In many 80s toy commercials, girls were often portrayed as passive and in need of saving. However, there were some commercials that empowered girls by using strong and confident language. For example, the commercial for the Centurions toy line had a female narrator who encouraged girls to join in on the action and “take on anything.”
2. Gender-neutral toys
Another way that toy companies promoted feminism was through gender-neutral toys. Toys like the Transformers and G.I. Joe were marketed to both boys and girls, which helped break down gender stereotypes and encouraged girls to explore interests outside of dolls and dress-up.
3. Diverse representation
While there is still a long way to go when it comes to representation in media and toys, some 80s toy commercials made strides in promoting diversity and inclusion. For example, the Jem and the Holograms toy line featured dolls that came in a variety of body shapes and skin colors. This was a refreshing change from the norm, which often portrayed beauty as being limited to a certain ideal.
Why feminist toy commercials still matter today
While it’s true that we’ve made significant progress towards gender equality since the 80s, there is still a lot of work to be done. This is why it’s important to look back at these feminist toy commercials as a reminder of what progress we’ve made, but also as a reminder of where we still need to improve.
Additionally, feminist toy commercials can also serve as inspiration for current and future generations. When children see commercials that promote gender equality, they are more likely to adopt those attitudes themselves. By promoting feminist messages through toys and media, we can help create a more equal and just society.
While there were certainly many problematic gender stereotypes at play in 80s toy commercials, it’s important to acknowledge and celebrate the feminist messages that were present. By doing so, we can inspire future generations to demand equal representation and treatment for all individuals, regardless of their gender.
So the next time you hear someone dismiss toys and commercials as being frivolous, remember that they can hold a lot of power and potential. By using toys to promote feminist messages, we can help inspire a brighter and more equal future for all.
Here’s to the future – and to the power of girlhood.