My daughter really wanted the pillow shaped like nail polish that said OMG Pink on it to take to sleepaway camp.
I thought the pillow was tacky, and a little bit sexist – just some casual #everydaysexism for her bed, reminding her to keep her nails pretty and her brain empty.
I find that I am becoming increasingly humorless when I shop for my daughter – what with all the dodging between oversexualized clothing, and stupid sayings on the shirts. Which is why I wish I applauded this letter from a mom to utilitarian clothing company Land’s End.
Dear Lands’ End,
My nine year old daughter loves science; She especially enjoys learning about ocean life and outer space. She has read more books on sharks than I ever knew existed, follows NASA news, and hopes to be an astronaut one day.
So you can imagine her reaction when she saw your company’s science-themed t-shirt designs for boys featured on page 26 of your latest catalog. The boys’ options include realistic images of planets and our solar system, labeled diagrams of sharks and dinosaurs, and a “NASA Crew” tee design that she immediately declared to be “the coolest shirt ever.”
We quickly flipped forward in your catalog to find the equivalent shirts in girls’ sizes. But when we got to the available t-shirt designs for girls on page 56, instead of science-themed art, we were treated to sparkly tees with rhinestones, non-realistic looking stars, and a design featuring a dog dressed like a princess and wearing a tutu.
My daughter was very confused. Lots of her friends that are girls love science, too. Why were there no cool science shirts for girls?
So, Lands’ End corporate, how should I respond to my daughter’s question? In 2014, why are you selling “mighty” tees for boys and “adorable” tees for girls? (Descriptions taken straight from your marketing copy.)
My daughter is mighty and she loves science. And until you recognize that it’s not only boys that can fit that description, our family will no longer be shopping in your stores.
I love that letter, we could redistribute it almost verbatim to every kid’s clothing manufacturer out there. Land’s End is hardly the worst – what about all the other kids’ stores I go to where my daughter is being peddled sparkly lipstick on a T-shirt, whereas my son gets skateboards? Why is there so much emphasis on princessess, beauty and BFF Forevah in girl's clothing?
One T-shirt doesn’t make a difference, one pillow doesn’t make a difference either. But it is the constant bombardment of messages to girls that they should be pretty and sparkly, they are “BFFS Forevah!” and “Divas”. Boys get to be risk-takers and jokesters as well as paleontogists and scientists.
A note to our fans:
Thank you for voicing your opinions and concerns regarding the assortment of girls’ graphic t-shirts we have introduced for the back-to-school season. Please know that Lands’ End would never intentionally discourage children from pursuing anything that they put their minds and hearts into, whether it’s music, art, sports or academics.
We value our customers and take your feedback very seriously.
We have shared your feedback with our Kids design and merchandising teams, and we will be offering more educational-based, gender-neutral graphics for back-to-school and throughout the fall season.
I have a lot of faith in Land's End. I hope that the other manufactureres hear this message and decide that enough is enough too. They won't do it because we ask, they will only do it because we stop spending.