M &Ms, Goldfish, cereal boxes, and the Minority Feisty

I know you probably think I’ve gone over the deep end with all the vitriol I’ve expressed towards M & Ms for presenting its female characters as a high heeled, kissy-lipped minority.

M&M_spokescandies

But the problem here is that this same old image and narrative is everywhere in kidworld. Whose kids eat Goldfish? Here’s our package:

goldfish

There it is again: Brooke, the Minority Feisty.

And kids cereal? Even Raj of “Big Bang Theory.” Raj said he’d done the research and there are no female cereal box characters at all.

Rice-Krispies-Box-Small

What happens to kids when they grow up saturated in a world where everywhere they look, girls go missing?

8 thoughts on “M &Ms, Goldfish, cereal boxes, and the Minority Feisty

  1. Hello, I’m only 14 but I’m just commenting here to express how so so so grateful and relieved I am to FINALLY find out that I’m not the only one who pays attention to all the sexism that is really all around us, even when everyone else I know thinks I’m over reacting and have gone bonkers. Especially people my age.
    Whenever my little sister turns on the TV to watch cartoons, I can’t help but start counting how many female characters there are, yet only to groan in frustration afterwards because there are always more male characters. And the main characters are never females. That is, unless the show’s target audience are girls.
    Or whenever I read a book, or watch a movie. It’s always the same. Always.
    Even the fact that we’re supposed to use our Dad’s surname as our own, instead of our Mom’s.
    I feel truly angry about all this. I wish there were something I could do.
    Yet I’ve learned keep it to myself, because whenever I tell someone, anyone, they just roll their eyes like I’m crazy. I’m just a stupid little girl. No one takes it seriously. No one takes ME seriously But they should. Because all this has to change.
    It’s really sad how other girls/women don’t even seem to care. I honestly don’t understand. How could anyone think that sexism is “gone”?!
    Anyway, I’m so grateful that I have found this blog. Thank you so much. I’m sure you are a very, very good mum.

    Thank you again,
    Jessica

    • Hi Jessica,

      Thanks for this great comment, you made my day. If I have learned one thing in life, it’s that you cannot let fear about what other people will think of you keep you from acting on or speaking your truth. People call me an idiot all the time, less so since my blog is not on SF Gate, but I would get hundreds of trolls telling me I was stupid and ugly and what I learned is, it doesn’t matter! People can say anything. It is a cliche, but if you are true to yourself, you get all the strength, courage, and love you need. I did not think that when I was 14, however. I wish I had known then. I just posted your comment on my blog. You rock!

      Margot

  2. It’s impossible to be too vocal about this issue. So thank you.

    Studies have been done on cartoon characters and food, focusing on childhood overweight and obesity.

    Here’s a Canadian one:

    http://uwspace.uwaterloo.ca/bitstream/10012/6532/1/Sae_Yang_Wiworn.pdf

    A few quotes from within, to hammer home how important this issue is:

    “On average, children see about 65 television ads each day, and about half are for food items. Food advertisements on television are dominated by five categories: breakfast cereals, confectionery, snacks, beverages and fast food restaurants. One US study examined the prevalence of food ads on Nickelodeon, the most watched children’s television channel in the US.

    “In an international study of television food advertising to children, it was found that for Canada, children saw four food ads per hour during peak viewing times and six food ads per hour during non-peak times.

    “In-school marketing is another popular advertising channel due to access to a large population of children and schools’ financial shortages, which makes schools vulnerable to advertisement deals. Food companies often use sponsorship to advertise their food products to students, including contests, coupons, sport teams and educational 11 materials.

    “Product placement is an effective way to market to children because children often fail to recognize that it is advertising due to its integration in the media.

    “The Internet is becoming a common channel for children’s advertising and marketing. “

    ***

    So it is everywhere:TV, Internet, and now schools. Absolutely everywhere. As for the effect of this marketing on children:

    “…television advertisement influences children’s preferences and requests for foods high in energy and low in nutrients, and increases their short-term consumption of advertised foods.”

    So if food advertisements can have this effect on children’s health, it’s not much of a leap to suspect that all of this gender biased food advertisements have an equally ill effect on children’s views on gender.

    Particularly concerning:

    “Consumers often use packaging characteristics to evaluate product quality. Research has shown that if the package conveys high quality, then consumers will likely associate high quality with the product and vice versa. A consumer’s level of involvement is also an important factor in product evaluation. In marketing literature, low-involvement refers to the purchase of a low-priced product with little importance, and is often done without careful examination of brand and product information.

    ***

    When marketers and Ad Men make the decision to omit female characters from their marketing plan, what the hell is going through their minds about females and how girls influence consumer perceptions of quality?

    We’re told advertising and marketing is a highly technical field based on statistics and demographics. I’m finding it harder and harder to believe that this is all down to unconscious/subconscious gender bias.

  3. What do you think of the Doc McStuffins show? I like the concept but I have noticed that the episodes themselves have some sexism issues. The super hero episode and the way the girl characters look (just like these cereal characters) come to mind.