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McKenna Pope

If anyone’s still worried about today’s teenagers melting their brains on the Internet, there’s at least one who stands out against the crowd: teen activist McKenna Pope.

In 2012 Pope’s four-year-old brother, who had a passion for cooking, was beyond excited to ask for an Easy-Bake Oven for Christmas. But, confused by the pink and purple colors and the television ads that only featured girls using the toy, he became discouraged. Pope, who was thirteen at the time, was indignant that her brother should think any less of himself as a boy who liked to cook. Naturally Pope turned to the Internet. She posted a video and written petition urging the CEO of Hasbro to change its marketing and packaging around the Easy-Bake Oven to make it appealing to boys as well as girls. Pope could hardly anticipate what came next: She received 45,000 signatures and a call from Hasbro, inviting her to their headquarters in Pawtucket, Rhode Island to show her their new unisex designs. The Garfield, NJ, teenager wanted toy manufacturers to move away from this “pink is for girls, blue is for boys” mentality and, instead, design more gender-neutral playthings. Boys like purple and red—even pink—too. Girls like black, blue and more male-centric hues, as well as toys, generally associated with boys.

A teen activist, Pope, now 15, has gone on as a public speaker, talking about youth-related issues, particularly the need for more gender-neutral play in the toy industry. Pope says, “Gender equality can’t be achieved until we abolish these gender separations too, and I believe that is a big part of what we must aim to do. Rather than making a “girl’s” product and a “boy’s” product to match, make one aimed at everyone. Doing this will work to keep impressionable children away from harmful stereotypes and let them know that whatever they choose to play with, or do, is okay.”

3 Things We Love About McKenna:

  • Pope still continues to advocate for change regarding gender marketing in the toy industry!
  • The teen activist was invited to be a speaker at TED, and did a great job at it as well.
  • Renown chefs such as Bobby Flay, Manuel Trevino and Jose Andreas also supported the campaign to have easy bake oven change its packaging!

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