A Gap advert that pictures boys as brainy and girls as sociable reflects the distorted reality we live in
The little girl looks winsomely into the middle distance, passive and unsmiling, presumably waiting for the next titbit of gossip to descend upon her kitten ears. The little boy grins and proudly shows off the image of Albert Einstein on his chest. “Your future starts here,” a new Gap advert tells him, which unfortunately is true. He is destined to be a “little scholar”. And the girl? A “social butterfly”, which isn’t even a job. Oh well, her chambray shirt (with pink logo, obviously) may not fast-track her into a science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) subject but it will be “the talk of the playground”. And what more could a girl want?
Welcome to the world of everyday sexism in children’s advertising. Like advertising, and Gap, it is everywhere. Watch any TV advert aimed at children and you will see girls in shiny princess outfits emoting into microphones and boys dutifully pushing fire engines. Go to the children’s section of any clothes shop and you will encounter primary-coloured stripes for boys and pastel polka dots for girls. We are living in an age when even shapes are gendered. It is that ludicrous.
The Gap ad designates boys as brainy and girls as sociable – gender stereotypes that have been around much longer than pink Lego. But people are fed up with it.