See the Disneyland Display That Smashes Gender Stereotypes
When navigating the dense crowds of excited children traipsing through Disneyland, it’s easy to ignore the 60-plus souvenir shops selling T-shirts, tiaras, and toys. But one store’s window display caused a park-goer to do a double take.
Decked out in a Minnie Mouse–adorned top and a matching purse, there he stood: a male mannequin. Minnie’s bow, polka-dot dress, and gender have typically put her character’s merchandise in the little girls’ section, while Mickey gear is targeted to boys.
“I actually walked right past it and had to backtrack, to look at it and examine it to make sure I really saw what I was seeing,” Eric Rosswood, a children’s author and LGBT advocate, told The Huffington Post. He snapped a shot of the window in late July, calling it an “awesome display” for gender-nonconforming kids. A Raggedy Ann doll, a Minnie plush toy, and a Snow White storybook are featured in the same display.
It’s unclear whether store managers made a conscious choice to break down gender norms that are often reinforced in children’s clothes and toys. Disneyland officials did not immediately respond to TakePart’s request for comment.
Disney’s online shops have started to shift away from gendered clothing and merchandise. The U.K.’s online Disney Store changed its categories on clothing from “boys” and “girls” to “kids” after an eight-year-old girl made a request to remove the label from the Darth Vader costume she wanted. The U.S. Disney Store website still has categories for “boys” and “girls” but includes costumes for superheroes and princesses under both genders. Still, the models used to sell the outfits feature boys in Thor suits and girls in Cinderella ball gowns.
Marketing to a specific gender drives consumers to adhere to gender norms that are often outdated or stereotypical. Advocates for gender-free toys have petitioned retailers to refrain from separating merchandise, as it limits a child’s imagination and play and may cause parents and kids to miss certain items—like science sets or plastic cookware—because they’re not looking in the right section.
“Just because a boy wants to wear a Minnie Mouse shirt doesn’t mean the parents have to put Mickey on them instead,” Rosswood told The Huffington Post. “They’re kids; they should be able to play with any toys they want.”