If you haven’t heard the news, everybody’s favourite plastic potato is getting a rebrand. Hasbro’s Mr. Potato Head products will be sold as just Potato Head in the near future.
Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head as characters will still be available for purchase, just sold under the brand Potato Head.
This news came as part of an announcement of the brand’s new Create Your Own Potato Head Family product. The product comes with two large potato bodies, one small potato body, and an assortment of accessories. According to Hasbro’s announcement, the product “is a celebration of the many faces of families allowing kids to imagine and create their own Potato Head family.”
Some have chalked up Hasbro’s move to tokenism, while others have expressed outrage, viewing it as ‘cancel culture’ going too far.
The simple truth is that this is a simple change of branding for a plastic potato. And, should plastic potatoes really be gendered in the first place? Whatever your opinion on the matter, the toy offers representation for non-binary individuals—individuals who have historically been underrepresented. If such a small change holds this power, isn’t it worth it? According to the BC Government, the answer to that question is yes.
In a news release on March 10, the BC government announced gender-neutral updates to the language used in the regulations of 15 government ministries. For instance, words like he, her, brother, and mother have been replaced with they, them, sibling, and parent, respectively. More than 600 such changes were made.
“Language matters. It allows people to feel recognized and affirmed,” Ravi Kahlon, minister of jobs, economic recovery, and innovation, said in the news release. “By upholding inclusive language, our government is taking steps to protect British Columbians’ human rights. We believe outdated language that prevents people from being seen for who they are should be removed to help tackle gender bias.”
Another step towards representation will be coming soon, as Statistic Canada’s 2021 census will ask respondents about their gender identity for the first time.
The way we perceive, talk, and write about gender is changing. Incorporating gender inclusive language could mean changing the title of a toy potato, amending terms and phrases in governmental regulations, or collecting raw data on gender identities. Though they may seem small, these changes are a step towards a more inclusive world.