Home / Teaching Sociology / Care Bears vs. Transformers: Gender Stereotypes in Advertisements

About Dr. Monica Brasted


  1. Your distinction between doll and action figure is interesting. As a matter of fact, the Barbie, being a doll, is said to be the stepping stone in the creation of the action figure because it created a need but it only fulfilled it in the girls market when she was released, in 1959. The boys had nothing similar at the time, however, later in the 60s the G.I. Joe came into existence and changed the whole scene. While the G.I. Joe is the first action figure in name, I think it’s fair to say the potential started with Barbie. I wrote a post on the history of the action figure for you, or for anyone to read if interested in knowing more about it: http://actionfiguresbuff-jon.com/the-history-of-the-action-figure/

    I also mentioned your post on my blog here: http://actionfiguresbuff-jon.com/care-bears-vs-transformers-gender-stereotypes-in-advertisements/

    And I bookmarked you.

  2. Most children can imitate a movie character, sing an advertising song, or show other impressions of what they learn from media. Advertisement plays an important role. Advertising does have good effects too, but the most prominent ones are the negative effects, which can have emotional, psychological effect on the minds of younger children in the longer run. The competitive business world has left no space, which we can call decent and humble for younger children.

    • Name one positive effect of children’s advertising? The goal of advertising to children is to make them consumers, and to reinforce the sorts of behaviours that benefit corporations. Advertising teaches passive product choice, reinforces gender norms (and you need gender norms if your companies that sell gendered products are going to continue to survive), reinforces the “democracy=product choice” mantra of modern consumer societies, and contributes (in a massive way) to the problem of garbage and waste. In this context I highly recommend viewing the PBS film Affluenza, which talks a lot about the North America fetish for consumption, and the damage this is doing to our collective future.

      Personally I don’t see any benefit at all to advertising to children, and in a lot of cases would consider it positively damaging to the health and well being of our children, as for example with the fast food industries proclivity to hook children into their toxic waste sodium and fat products at an early age.

      But still, if anybody has any ideas on what might constitute “positive” children’s advertising, I would be curious to here them.

  3. Here’s an interesting article from Science Daily. Not about gender advertisement, but about children’s junk food advertising and its impact on childhood obesity.


    Interesting reading.

  4. Excellent article. It should be noted that while the media subjects children at young age to believe girls are submissive and insulated, girls have much more freedom to stray from their assigned gender role. It is easier for a daughter to frown at her Care Bear and express frustration at not getting a Transformer because she is a Tomboy. Many would find it endearing. However, a boy expressing that he wants the girl’s Care Bear is entering some very dangerous territory. No one would be laughing and the boy would feel immediate shame — if not more

    That said, girls fight their forced stereotype for life. One need only look at the bulimia, glass ceilings, unequitable pay and domestic violence to witness the damage.

    My point is that in many ways little boys face the worst consequences for going against society and wanting to play with a pink LeapFrog and Lord help him if he wants a Barbie or a spangly bracelet. No one wants a sissy boy.

    • Right you are Sissy. In fact a sissy boy is likely to experience physical beatings as a child as “society” engages in forcible attempts to have them conform to the sexual “norms.”

      Wonder why that is eh? why so much violence directed at sexual conformity?

  5. This article reminded me of this video >> http://youtu.be/-CU040Hqbas

    I love Riley’s amazing outlook on the world.. I often tend to find myself concerned with the future of our planet; however one can only hope that there are plenty more little out there like her to lead civilisation away from the narrow minded and self-destructive decisions that we so commonly choose to make.

  6. As much as I wanted to read the rest of the article, I couldn’t get past this.

    “Why did the fast food worker assume that my daughter wanted the care bear?”


    • As much as I wanted to post your whole commentary (and I really did because you made some good points), I couldn’t get past the fact that you’re critical of an article that you didn’t even read. So, read the whole post, and then formulate your response, rather than reacting defensively, and shutting down as you apparently did.

  7. I have worked in the classroom of junior high students and part of their health course is realizing what advertising is all about and how sneaky it is in convincing the consumer that they need the item, must wear the perfume/cologne or eat the cardboard pizza to be cool, to be accepted, to be happy. I have tried hard to raise my kids to search for things that are important to do, to be to enjoy. My son called me from college last ear and said thanks for not stereotyping us. It is much easier for him to do somethings because he had the option to as a youth. I have 2 boys and 2 girls. Three danced together for about 6 years, 1 boy and 1 girl played hockey together as well as hockey, all 4 did cubs and scouts. They are all adults now and manage their money with caution…there are only so many plastic things a person can buy…and they don’t bring happiness. Contentment and joy come from within, from being confident in yourself, from striving to being involved in life. Many also have faith in their God.Advertising is everywhere and it is done by some very brilliant people that know the bottom line is the dollar…no matter what lies are told to get it or what lives are ruined b promoting the intended image necessary. So far we still have the right to shut off the tv, say no to the sellers and hang up the phone when cornered by sales pitches.

  8. I wonder if the current popularity of “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” with young adults of both genders is doing anything to fight these stereotypes in a significant way?

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