NERF just released its biggest, most powerful bow-and-arrow set yet. At a length of four feet, the bow can shoot arrows as far as 100 feet through the air. But the most remarkable feature of NERF's REBELLE PLATINUM bow and arrow set? It's marketed to girls. And while it would be nice to scrap gendered marketing altogether, the toy still sends the important message that kids of any gender can like both sports and "girly" designs.
“The NERF REBELLE brand was a result of extensive research, working with thousands of girls from around the world for more than two years gathering insights on what they wanted in a sports action brand,” the NERF Franchise's Vice President of Global Marketing Michael Ritchie tells Bustle over email. “NERF REBELLE empowers players with confidence, high performance action, and a stylish edge, all while inspiring girls to think and play differently."
Perhaps NERF's manner of gendering this product isn't a surprise given the popularity of the Hunger Games books and movies, which star a young woman known for her skill with a bow and arrow. It's also not surprising that the bow is purple and baby blue, given how many needlessly gendered toys there are out there. As Bustle's Lucia Peters points out, The Hunger Games's Katniss, Brave's Merida, and The Avengers' Black Widow don't need their bows and arrows to be pink — and neither should real girls.
But while toys shouldn't be geared specifically toward girls just because of their color — or anything about them, for that matter — both this one's color and its marketing are significant. The association between girls and purple may be nothing new, since purple has long been considered a "feminine" color, but it's less often that we see girls and girly colors associated with power and strength.
More and more companies are realizing that gendered toys contribute to stereotypes, dissuade girls from entering male-dominated fields down the line, and dissuade people of all genders from expressing their interests. As a consequence, Target no longer has gendered signs in its toy section, and Amazon recently dropped gender filters from its search function.
By marketing a toy mimicking a weapon to girls, Hasbro isn't joining this effort to get rid of gendered marketing altogether — it's just reversing it. That's still a step forward, since it might encourage girls to get toys they wouldn't buy if they were marketed to boys or even to no gender in particular. Even better, though, might be to just sell a huge purple and baby blue bow and arrow and let kids decide for themselves whether or not they're within its target demographic.
But whether you call it a bow for girls or just a bow for kids who like purple, the REBELLE PLATINUM is mixing traditionally "girly" colors with a traditionally "boyish" activity, and by doing so, it's reminding us that there's nothing inherently girly or boyish about either of those things.
Images: Courtesy of Hasbro; Giphy (3)