Last month when I heard McDonald's was including some new Ninja Turtle toys with their Happy Meals, I decided to swing by with John to pick one up.
"Would you like a girl's toy or a boy's toy?" asked the bored voice through the drive-though speaker.
John gave me a wry look, and answered, "The Ninja Turtle, please."
As we drove home with my new toy, I mentioned (ok, griped) to John that I was surprised McDonald's was still using "girl" and "boy" labels. Here in my lovely online bubble of geeky acceptance at Epbot, it's easy to forget the "real" world is still catching up to the fact that girls can love Ninja Turtles and boys can love My Little Pony.
Happily one young girl did more than gripe, though: Antonia Ayres-Brown was 11 years old when she first wrote to McDonald's CEO back in 2008, asking him to change his company's policy. And when she got a canned customer service response claiming her experience "was not the norm," Antonia proceeded to conduct a series of her own studies, visiting dozens of local McDonald's with her father and documenting the results.
If you don't think McDonald's gender labels on toys are that big a deal, then head over to Antonia's article to see the resistance she and other kids in her study met when trying to get the "wrong" toy. I was amazed, and if anything, this story helped put me even more on the side of gender-free toy marketing.
But, this story has a happy ending: after sharing her results and continuing to ask McDonald's for change, Antonia finally received a letter in December of last year stating that Happy Meal toys would be provided "without any classification of the toy as a ‘boy’ or ‘girl’ toy and without any reference to the customer’s gender."
And here's proof they're following through, spotted on a McDonald's wall and posted by Do Something earlier this month:
I love that this change is happening, but I love the fact that a young girl-turned-young-woman made it happen even more.
I tell ya, kids these days... out there, making our world better! It's enough to make a person grin like an idiot, am I right? ;)
Hat tip to reader Ann-Marie M. for sharing this story with me!
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