Is it just breakfast cereal?…..

An early Saturday morning start with the smallest person in our house often finds us wandering about the local supermarket, conveniently open 24/6 giving ‘early birds’ (as we are often labelled) somewhere to amuse ourselves.  Last Saturday, enjoying a leisurely dawn stroll around the supermarket, we saw this display.  Two bottom shelves, at the height of children old enough to walk rather than ride in the trolley, children who have developed enough speech to ‘ask’ for things in shops by then, were displaying cereal.  One shelf had boxes with the Frozen princesses on, the other had boxes with a sinister Darth Vader portrait.  Frozen, though not void of merit, is essentially about two princesses dependent on a man to help them.  Darth Vader is a controlling, dominating and violent character.  Interestingly, the cereal was the same with a small exception.  The Frozen boxes were vanilla flavoured multi-grain stars, and the Vader boxes were the same but chocolate flavoured.

So, the question is – which box might appeal to boys?  And which to girls?  And how can retailers be held to account for reinforcing the unwritten rules?  And how can these be challenged, encouraging children to choose the cereal for the taste and not the character?  Or asking the food industry to consider using less overtly gender-stereotyped images on their packaging for young children who are highly impressionable?

I’m beginning to think perhaps it might feel safer to do the food shopping at a busier time of day as a 6.00am trip to the supermarket clearly leaves too much time to ponder!…..