Ever notice how catalogs like this seem to have an enforced diversity? Ever wonder how that lines up with reality? Well, I went through the 72 pages of Toys R Us Big Toy Book and counted all the child models, keeping track of race, gender, and body size/ability. Here they are, with a comparison to the real world population make-up.
Now, I know that race isn't an easy thing to catalog like this. I don't know for certain much of this. Even with gender, there were a couple I wasn't sure of. The important thing here, though, IS perception. This is about what the reader/customer will perceive, so I figure my perception is as fair as anyone else's. Just understand that it IS a perception.
GENDER Big Toy Book
Boys: 51% (77)
Girls: 49% (74)
So, girls are very slightly overrepresented, but this is actually pretty on target with the demographics.
RACE Big Toy Book
White: 55.6% (84)
African-American: 17.9% (27)
Latino: 15.2% (23)
Asian: 11.3% (17)
Not bad representation here, either. Whites are technically underrepresented and non-whites are technically overrepresented, but its important to remember a lot of states in the US have demographics that vary widely from that full country. None of these isn't accurate somewhere.
Big Toy Book
Wheelchair Using: 0.7% (1)
Fat: 0% (0)
Thin: 100% (151)
Wheelchair Using: 0.1%
So, the one child using a wheelchair was technically overrepresented. Obviously, though, it was well within reason considering a laudable desire to portray a differently able child. Also, its worth noting that Toys "R" Us has an entire section of their website dedicated to toys for differently able children.
But, um, where are the fat children? We're an epidemic, right? So where are the 17.5% of children who are fat? When will they take their place in the Big Toy Book?
Exclusion is the cornerstone of oppression. Others before us recognized the harm done by treating their group as invisible in media like this. The results can be seen in the demographics I described. Models aren't all white. They represent the diversity of the population. They even acknowledge differently abled kids, as well they should. Not fat kids, though. Not yet. They are still invisible, non-existent. It teaches fat children that they might as well not-exist. It reinforces the otherness of fatness to other children. It may seem inconsequential, but this is part of a collective cultural alignment against fat people.