“Isn’t it just perpetuating gender stereotypes to name your company Boy Story?” This was a frequent question we received during our market survey, and something we put a lot of thought into before we chose our name. After all, we are a company that stands up for giving children the right to choose when it comes to play. Toys serve many purposes: to learn, to imagine, to celebrate, to develop, and to play. Our toys encourage boys to step into an area of play that has by-and-large been off-limits to them in the historical toy market: play with dolls. To break down the barriers that have been placed by the historical market, and introduce a balancing toy to the girl-saturated doll market, we created Boy Story. These are stories about boys. These are lifelike and same-age boy dolls.
We 100% believe that toys should not be limited to one gender or the other and that children should have equal opportunity to learn, grow and play with all toys. But we don’t believe gender should be ignored. It should be embraced—in all its shapes and forms. We embrace the joy that is boyhood and have developed our toys to encourage that joy. We encourage boys to freely love, hug, rumble and tumble, without feeling intimidated or isolated by enjoying a basic same-age doll. We firmly believe that this freedom paves the way for true equal opportunity and respect among the genders of all ages.
Importantly, Boy Story is not designed to exclude girls. We think girls will love our stories and dolls. They will now have cool companions for their other dolls. They will enjoy the lessons our stories teach and the play that our toys encourage. And (spoiler alert!) we have some very cool girl dolls in the works.
We considered a gender-neutral name. The issue we came across, though, is that for far too long the toy aisles have been completely segregated, pink for the girls and blue for the boys. And front and center in the pink aisle has been dolls. Why? Because that’s what the toy manufacturers decided 100 years ago would sell. We’ve been stuck with this extreme segmentation ever since. This distinction has sent the message that it is inappropriate for boys to play dress-up or house, it’s inappropriate to empathize or take on a caretaking role. It just drives us bonkers to even think of these stereotypes and how harmful they are to children!
We aren't trying to criticize any one company, but we found the selection shocking when looking for dolls for our boys:
After much debate, we decided to take a cue from our fellow small toy companies fighting the good fight against gender stereotyping toys. Just as dolls have been marketed to girls, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) toys have been primarily marketed towards boys. People are beginning to see the correlation between this phenomenon and the fact that STEM related jobs, which are some of the highest paying, are dominated by men. Girls aren't being given the chance to take interest in STEM related careers because from a young age they are steered far away from it. We applaud companies such as Goldie Blox, Stem Box and Roominate for making STEM toys marketed towards girls. And we can't forget to mention I am Elemental for making action figures to empower young girls! These companies also realized that they have to overcome a stereotype and begin to even the playing field first. That is exactly what we intend to do, but for the fellas.
We like to say, you have to break down the barriers before you can share the sandbox!
We chose the name Boy Story to emphasize to boys that there's a doll that is acceptable and even cool for them to play with. We believe that no child should ever feel ashamed for playing and using his or her imagination, and our goal (in part) is to change some of the current social stigma against boys playing with dolls. The decision was not an easy one for us. We don't want to make a toy exclusively for boys or girls. But our focus was to introduce something to the market that just isn't there now: A cool and well-engineered Action Doll*. Thus, Boy Story was born. The name and the brand is designed to appeal to boys, precisely to get over the stigma of the word "doll," and to diminish and hopefully make a dent in some old-school stereotypes that keep kids from developing traits that both genders should have the opportunity and ability to develop. While the name is Boy Story, these dolls are most certainly appropriate for both boys and girls. We already have plans to include girls in our next expansion phase, and hope to eventually rebrand with a more gender neutral name. Until then, let's get past these ridiculous old stereotypes!
*To see why we are calling our dolls "Actions Dolls" and not simply dolls, please see our FAQ's at www.boystory.com.