Toy marketing saw a shift this year when British store Harrod's re-opened its toy department organized by themes rather than gender.
More recently, Sweden's Top-Toy Group, a licensee of the Toys "R" Us brand, published a catalog featuring a girl aiming a toy gun and a boy styling hair with beauty accessories.
The gender-blind catalog prompted Carolyn Danckaert to start her own Change.org petition asking Toys "R" Us to follow suit in its catalogs and marketing materials in the United States. The company did not respond to a request for comment.
"People are recognizing that the divisions being created aren't necessary and it just makes more sense to be sorting toys thematically rather than by gender," said Danckaert, founder of "A Mighty Girl," an online marketplace for books and movies that feature females as main characters.
"We hear from parents all the time who see the value in allowing boys to play with baby dolls," she said. "A lot of people believe that it's desirable to encourage boys to become nurturers and develop the whole child, from analytical skills to the ability to empathize."
Since launching the petition, McKenna said she has learned a bit about scrutinizing ads.
"Now, whenever I see a toy commercial, I feel my mind automatically shooting to: 'Why are they marketing it this way?' " she said. "I can't help it. I wonder who this is being marketing to -- should they do it in a different way?"
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