Fourth graders make Pottery Barn change their catalog to be more gender neutral.

Rethinking has this story about a class of fourth graders who made a difference.

Pink, pink, pink! Everything for girls in this catalog is pink," exclaimed Kate, one of my fourth graders, as she walked into the classroom one morning, angrily waving the latest "Pottery Barn Kids" catalog in the air.

"I HATE the color pink. This catalog is reinforcing too many stereotypes, Ms. Cooley, and we need to do something about it!"

The class decided to go on a letter writing campaign, so all students to the time to write a personal letter about the Pottery Barn Kids catalog and sent it to the Pottery Barn.

Dear Pottery Barn Kids,
I do not like the way you put together your catalogs because it reinforces too many stereotypes about boys and girls. For instance, in a picture of the boys' room, there are only two books and the rest of the stuff are trophies. This shows boys and girls who look at your catalog that boys should be good at sports and girls should be very smart. I am a boy and I love to read.

When the 2003 Pottery Barn Kids catalog arrived, there were some clear changes visible. On the cover was a boy sitting at his desk doing his homework. Inside was picture of a boy talking on the phone, an activity typically reserved for females in the world of stereotypical imagery, and he was looking at a Power Puff magazine, usually targeted to girls. When the teacher asked one of her former students what she thought about the changes, she replied: "Well, the catalog sort of improved the boys, but not really the girls. They still have a lot of changes to make."

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Anonymous Adgrunt's picture
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tod.brody's picture

My son Felix loved the Power Puff Girls when he was little, and his favorite color was pink. But on the other had, he was also an aggressive little sort, who loved contact sports, enjoyed wrestling, and took every opportunity he could to mix it up with bigger kids. Stereotypes are for the birds. Good on ya, fourth graders! :-)

Wendall's picture

Since when do fourth graders get all in a huff about stereotypes?

tod.brody's picture

I'm guessing you don't have a nine year old.

Wendall's picture

Nope, just going off my own Elementary school experience.

tod.brody's picture

Well, assuming that you're way past nine now, today's nine year olds are a bit different. I have two children who are both beyond the fourth grade and kids today are a bit more sophisticated then fourth graders were when I was nine. So it doesn't surprise me at all that they would be upset about gender stereotyping.

Wendall's picture

I suppose. All I remember about my time in fourth grade are the stick fights.

tod.brody's picture

My memories are probably more like yours, and I doubt I even knew what gender stereotyping was. But then I was in the fourth grade in 1965.

Dabitch's picture

....and then, in 2009 - Class of twelve year olds teach Toys R Us about advertising to modern children. Moral of the story: The kids are more aware than you think.

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