Raise Your Voice Above the Hate, Thank Target With A Card And A Hug

Give Target some love for taking a stand on gender stereotypes for kids.

Give Target some love for taking a stand on gender stereotypes for kids. #KidsAreKidsAtTarget

I need y’all to do one thing for me over the next few days, the sooner the better. I need you to make your voices heard by the people who need to hear it most right now – the team at your local Target store.

While I’m being blamed for promoting the “gay agenda” (Hi, Gays!), upsetting Jesus and going against his word (I’m sorry, Jesus. Dollar spot and a slushie?) destroying America and general moral decay (you’re welcome, ‘Murica!), they are getting a ton of hate, too.

They are getting a ton of hate because the progressive company they work for did the right thing. The hateful comments are ignorant, sexist, and trans/homophobic. That just isn’t cool.

Jane Johnson, a PPBB Community member, shared this with me, “One of your others readers bought a thank you card, wrote it & gave it to the manager at their local Target. I was inspired by this and did the same, the manager was touched. It had been a hard day for them, with the “haters,” and was appreciated. Manager gave me a hug & said it meant a lot. What Target has done means a whole lot more!!”

You know you are going to shop at Target later this week when you go in for dish soap and bananas and come out $140 later with things that aren’t dish soap and bananas. So make it $142.73 because you all need to buy a thank you card and fill it out right in the store. Seriously, fill it out right at the store and hand it to the manager. After you do it, post a photo to social media and use the hashtag #KidsAreKidsAtTarget.

Target could have made this change quietly, or as other big companies do, say it was a design change already in the works to refresh stores and not a result of consumer pressure with some corporatese that neither says anything nor offends anyone. They could have hidden behind the need for a store redesign to avoid upsetting some customers who are losing their minds over the loss of gendered signs. Internally their executives and PR team had to know this would be divisive, though the reasons for that divisiveness are mystifying.

They chose not to do that. They chose to take a stand and say publicly they heard what their customers were asking for and they agreed — there was no reason to separate toys and bedding into gendered categories when it came to kids. At Target, kids are free to be kids. They took a big stand on a simple change: making their children’s sections gender inclusive.

(Yes, the toy packaging and clothing still carry gendered messaging. And yes, the apparel sections are still labeled “boys” and “girls”, but at my local store the character tees and undies are very clearly in a middle section of childeren’s apparel and open for anyone. Let’s take a win where we can get one, okay friends?)

Target is the fourth largest retailer in the United States. Their influence is massive. This change is important, and it will influence the entire marketplace. But more important is the wording in their blog statement, because it puts other retailers on notice they will now have to defend their use of gendered retail spaces for children.

“But we know that shopping preferences and needs change and, as guests have pointed out, in some departments like Toys, Home or Entertainment, suggesting products by gender is unnecessary.

We heard you, and we agree. Right now, our teams are working across the store to identify areas where we can phase out gender-based signage to help strike a better balance. For example, in the kids’ Bedding area, signs will no longer feature suggestions for boys or girls, just kids. In the Toys aisles, we’ll also remove reference to gender, including the use of pink, blue, yellow or green paper on the back walls of our shelves. You’ll see these changes start to happen over the next few months.”

Just kids. No gender rules to follow or roles to fill. Just free to be kids who love what they love.

The level of noise and insanity the opposition to this change is raising is incredulous. Change is often met with fear and resistance, but how we get from a new neutral wood backing for toy shelves to children being raped by gender-bending pedophiles in unisex Target bathrooms is…….it is almost too stupid and hysterical to even mention, yet I’m seeing that comment many times over.

Jane Johnson also left this comment on Target’s facebook page….

“Dear Target Social Media Team, Target Store Team Members, and Target Corporate:

Thank you for your work today to allow kids to be kids and play with toys they like.

It has been rough; a lot of people who do not understand have inflamed what has actually happened: a change of paint, a (small) change of signs, and a few! toys of the same sort being moved together (because really…all the Barbies and other dolls were already together, most of the LEGO and building sets were already together, etc.).

Here is an example of what the signage will be like (this is from elsewhere, a place already having done what you just did):
Action Figures
Arts & Crafts
Baby & Toddler Toys
Building Toys/Sets
Dolls & Accessories
Dress Up & Pretend Play
Electronics for Kids
Games
Hobbies
Learning & Education
Puzzles
Sports & Outdoor Play
Stuffed Animals & Plush Toys
Toy Remote Control & Play Vehicles
Tricycles, Scooters & Wagons
Video Games

Again, Thank you, Target!”

How will people know which aisle to go in for a toy? The aisle that has the toy you are looking for. It will be labeled by type of toy. That should make it easy for you.

How will they know what to buy for a boy or girl? Ask the boy or girl what they want.

How will boys and girls still understand their gender? Because while external forces give cues and can influence the definition of gender and how it is performed within a culture, signs on Target store aisles do not make or break an internal process for children as they establish gender permanence or gender fluidity.

So raise your voices above the hate and ignorance with the simple act of a thank you card, expressing gratitude to a company and its employees who did right by our kids.

I’m taking my card over to my Target this afternoon. And I’m not buying anything. I’m not. Will not. Buy anything. I’m not buying anything. I’m not buying anything. I can do this. I can. But I might get a new scarf.

My family's thank you card will be delivered to ourTarget this afternoon.

My family’s thank you card will be delivered to ourTarget this afternoon. #KidsAreKidsAtTarget

So, here’s your To Do list:
1. Fill out a thank you card to your local Target team.
2. Deliver it with a smile and a hug.
3. Post it to social media playforms using #KidsAreKidsAtTarget.
4. Stay Full of Awesome!

 

Melissa headshot 1 fb sizeMelissa Atkins Wardy is a speaker, media consultant, and the author of Redefining Girly: How Parents Can Fight the Stereotyping and Sexualizing of Girlhood, from Birth to Tween. She is the creator and owner of Pigtail Pals & Ballcap Buddies, a company that has been offering empowering apparel and gifts to Full of Awesome kids since 2009 www.pigtailpals.com.

Find her at www.melissaatkinswardy.com. You can connect with her on Facebook (Pigtail Pals Ballcap Buddies) and Twitter (@PigtailPals) and Pinterest (Pigtail Pals & Ballcap Buddies). 

 

Target Moves Away From Gendered Signs And Shelving

Target really *is* the happiest place on Earth.

Target really *is* the happiest place on Earth.

I could not be happier to see this announcement from Target Corporation via their Bullseye View blog. This move is something the PPBB Community has spent years very vocally advocating for.

This change is a step towards removing gender limitations in childhood, but when one of the world’s largest retailers does this, the ripple effect will be significant.

As we’ve said for years here, all it will take is one of the retailing giants to be bold enough to deviate from status quo and the rest will fall like dominoes.

Hooray to Target for taking the lead on this!

From Target’s Bullseye View blog:

Over the past year, guests have raised important questions about a handful of signs in our stores that offer product suggestions based on gender. In some cases, like apparel, where there are fit and sizing differences, it makes sense. In others, it may not. Historically, guests have told us that sometimes—for example, when shopping for someone they don’t know well—signs that sort by brand, age or gender help them get ideas and find things faster. But we know that shopping preferences and needs change and, as guests have pointed out, in some departments like Toys, Home or Entertainment, suggesting products by gender is unnecessary.

We heard you, and we agree. Right now, our teams are working across the store to identify areas where we can phase out gender-based signage to help strike a better balance. For example, in the kids’ Bedding area, signs will no longer feature suggestions for boys or girls, just kids. In the Toys aisles, we’ll also remove reference to gender, including the use of pink, blue, yellow or green paper on the back walls of our shelves. You’ll see these changes start to happen over the next few months.

We thank guests all the time for challenging us to get better at what we do and take the shopping trip to new levels. We’re always listening, and your thoughts and ideas help us make Target, your Target, a better place.

I applaud Target stores for making this change. I’m thrilled, to be honest, and literally bouncing up and down in my chair. This change will play a role in shifting the way kids see themselves as consumers and will help to shift the way adults see the role of gender in childhood. In short – it should be the least salient quality we see in our children.

My local Target store was already on my list of errands for today, but after reading this news from Target I’m going to be sure to approach the manager and tell them how happy I am for this move. Thank you, Target!

I’ve reached out to Target Corp for comment and will update you as soon as possible. 

 

Melissa headshot 1 fb sizeMelissa Atkins Wardy is a speaker, media consultant, and the author of Redefining Girly: How Parents Can Fight the Stereotyping and Sexualizing of Girlhood, from Birth to Tween. She is the creator and owner of Pigtail Pals & Ballcap Buddies, a company that has been offering empowering apparel and gifts to Full of Awesome kids since 2009 www.pigtailpals.com.

Find her at www.melissaatkinswardy.com. You can connect with her on Facebook (Pigtail Pals Ballcap Buddies) and Twitter (@PigtailPals) and Pinterest (Pigtail Pals & Ballcap Buddies). 

My First Grader Says She Is Fat And Hates Herself, Now What?

PPBB Mom: “Was rather disturbed this afternoon when our 6 year old (turns 7 next next Friday) daughter came home from school today and told me that “she hates herself as she is fat”. I immediately told her that she isn’t and that she is beautiful. In fact she is a very healthy little girl. The scary thought in all this is that she is only in grade 1.”

PPBB Answer:  Hi Michele – You are not alone, I have a lot of parents contact me with similar concerns with girls the same age as yours. Girls learn quickly at young ages that body hate is a secret language females speak to each other and that this is how girls measure themselves. Your voice has to outshine whatever was learned at school. That is such a tricky thing to deal with because it is human nature to find it easier to believe something negative about yourself rather than positive. It is also a rock and a hard place – you want to acknowledge her feelings and concerns, but do so by affirming she isn’t “fat” and that she is beautiful, which only serves to reinforce those are the more highly valued qualities. Well of course that is the first thing a parent would say! My first reaction would be similar.

Her body is her machine for life. Her relationship with her body can be as wonderful or painful as she lets it be. But she only gets one, and life is way too awesome and too short to not love the body you are in.

I like how you also included “healthy” as a status for her physical being when you were reassuring her, because our bodies can look beautiful in all different sizes and still be healthy. Health should be our goal in life, not socially-acceptable thinness. Maybe you have a print out from her last doctor visit that shows her in scientific, measurable terms that she is exactly the size she should be. If she is your biological child, you might have a photograph of you at the same age which you can use to show her she looks just like what her genes are programmed for. Tall and lanky? Short and stocky? All in the DNA, so shake what your mama gave ya. 

You may also want to remind her she is “growing”. As a kid, that is literally her job. To grow up. Kids’ bodies carry muscle and fat differently because they are constantly growing. Try to focus the conversation on all the things her body can do. Make a list (like a poster for her room) or play act some suggestions (dance, hug, skip, jump, stomp, spin, soccer kick, karate chop, ballet positions, roll, wiggle, worm, cartwheel, run, etc). When she frames her body image viewing her body as an instrument rather than an ornament she gives herself the power to define part of her self worth based on how her body serves her through life and how it feels as opposed to simply how it looks.

You might want to have her go into more depth with you on why she says she hates herself and thinks she is fat. Is she repeating something she heard? Did someone tease her? If someone is teasing her, remind her that “fat” is the new “stupid”. That word is commonly hurled around the playground, usually comes from a place of jealousy, and is completely subjective. Did school introduce a new weight-based health initiative that weighs children or focuses on the misguided BMI? That may give you more insight into how to tackle her distressing announcement. You may also need to get her teacher on your team to help sort this all out if it is a problem in the classroom or a school program (which you can opt out of, an action I highly recommend).

If this revelation is the result of teasing or even a school program that fat shames rather than teaches body acceptance, now is the perfect time to introduce her to the idea of building her own personal brand. Your daughter is Full of Awesome. Why would she believe any different. Because a kid at school told her so? No. When I do presentations at schools I use the image below when I tell the kids they are in charge of how they see themselves, what they put out into the world, what qualities they let shine through that impact others. They get to put the writing on the wall and what other people say about them is none of their business.

Your child gets to create their own personal brand (read: self image). No outside forces get to negatively influence that.

Your child gets to create their own personal brand (read: self image). No outside forces get to negatively influence that.

And finally, I would ask her why she says she “hates herself”. That is a strong statement, one she likely does not entirely understand. If she heard you say that about yourself, or a sibling say the same thing, how would she react? What would she say? How does it make her heart feel when she says she “hates” herself? What is she looking for you to say back? Can she think of some health habits your family could change for the better to help her feel better? What if you took a walk with her as you discussed these things, so she gets her body moving and heart pumping as she discusses how she feels?
Six years old is such a tender age – and completely common age – for these types of thoughts to arise. I know it hurts your heart to hear your baby say it. But she took the risk to say it out loud to you because you are the center of her world. She trusts you, she counts on the foundation of unconditional love you have built for her that she stands on every day. Now we just have to show her how to build that foundation inside of her, so that love comes not only from her family but also from within.

Melissa headshot 1 fb sizeMelissa Atkins Wardy is a speaker, media consultant, and the author of Redefining Girly: How Parents Can Fight the Stereotyping and Sexualizing of Girlhood, from Birth to Tween. She is the creator and owner of Pigtail Pals & Ballcap Buddies, a company that has been offering empowering apparel and gifts to Full of Awesome kids since 2009 www.pigtailpals.com.

Find her at www.melissaatkinswardy.com. You can connect with her on Facebook (Pigtail Pals Ballcap Buddies) and Twitter (@PigtailPals) and Pinterest (Pigtail Pals & Ballcap Buddies). 

There’s Just No Time

We are on vacation this week with the cousins, spending our time between a beautiful Lake Michigan beach resort and daily adventures in the local area. The crew of kids consists of three girls (ages 9, 6, and 3) and two boys (ages 7 and almost 2). All are having a grand time.

One of the things I love about my family getting together is the true celebration of “kid time”. Because our cousins live overseas our time together is precious, devoted to the kids playing together and soaking each other in as much as possible. No fun measures up to the exploits and trouble you can get into with cousins. The midnight bedtimes, peels of laughter, overcrowded bath tubs, jokes and secrets, popsicles snuck before dinner….. this is the good stuff in life.

The big kids paddled to a little island to have a picnic, delighted to leave their parents behind.

The big kids paddled to a little island to have a picnic, delighted to leave their parents behind.

Last night as I watched the five of them run around on the beach I looked down at my baby nephew’s footprint in the sand. A month shy of his second birthday he still has those fat, delicious square baby feet. The three year old has a penchant for nudity, as most preschoolers do, and was skinny dipping in the lake. Her legs are so much longer than last summer and they belie the baby chub that lingers on her body that is looking more like a “kid” than the baby she has been.

They are all growing so, so fast and I find myself whispering often in a half wish/half prayer “Stay little forever”.

My own kids, the 9 and 7 year olds, are so big now. They just don’t stay little. They grow and grow faster and faster. Their baby footprints are long gone, my daughter’s imprint in the sand is nearly as big as my own foot. When she chases me in the lake I actually have to work at outrunning her long legs, not like the slo-mo up and down run I do when the the 3 year old and almost-2 year old chase me.

My family encourages all of the kids to explore, try to new things, create, be silly, be strong, be themselves. We will sometimes divide them into “the bigs” and “the littles” for certain activities, but never do we do “boy stuff” and “girl stuff”. There is no such thing.

And? There just no time for that. Think about how much there is to do in childhood. To learn, to try, to discover.

There is no “boy side” or “girl side” to childhood. There isn’t time to limit any part of these years, these magical few calendar pages of childhood.

Exploring the creek.

Exploring the creek.

A list of what our boys and girls have been doing this week:

Water slides and boogie boarding

Playing outside

Attending a major league baseball game

Exploring interactive story land gardens

Art fair and face painting

Airplane show and talking with pilots

Tag and Chase

Paddling a boat to a small island for a kids-only picnic

Playing make believe

Science experiments on beach

Sea shell gathering

Making friends with two guys flying remote controlled airplanes; guy uses hawk plane to chase kids all over a field

Crayfish hunting

Sailing

Desperate attempts to catch sea gulls (tactics include: stealth, flanking, ambush, and pleading with promises of love and tear-filled eyes)

Sand castles and digging giant moats

Turning little brother into a sand merman

Splashing in Lake Michigan

Putt putt

More crayfish hunting

Crayfish hunting with sticks and an empty latte cup.

Crayfish hunting with sticks and an empty latte cup.

I notice the other families visiting the condos around ours and I see boys and girls running all over the beach and common areas while playing. Some are playing organized games like baseball or tag, many are digging and digging in the sand, others are playing with toys like the group of boys and girls I saw with a large container of fighter planes. Most of the kids are running between the water park and the beach, losing their minds with all the choices of fun.

This is why I get so fed up with the gender stereotypes I see all over children’s clothes and toys, telling them how to be a girl or how to be a boy. That isn’t what childhood is about. We are wrong to place limitations on this time in life.

Our kids are experts at being kids, we just need to give them the room to remind us what it should look like.

 

Melissa headshot 1 fb sizeMelissa Atkins Wardy is a speaker, media consultant, and the author ofRedefining Girly: How Parents Can Fight the Stereotyping and Sexualizing of Girlhood, from Birth to Tween. She is the creator and owner of Pigtail Pals & Ballcap Buddies, a company that has been offering empowering apparel and gifts to Full of Awesome kids since 2009www.pigtailpals.com.

Find her at www.melissaatkinswardy.com. You can connect with her onFacebook (Pigtail Pals Ballcap Buddies) and Twitter (@PigtailPals) and Pinterest (Pigtail Pals & Ballcap Buddies). 

 

Pinks and Not Pinks

“Thought of you and Pigtail Pals Ballcap Buddies this morning when I made a quick trip to the local public library. I was refilling my water bottle when a 2 year old girl sat down at the kids computer with her Mom. The little girl asked her Mom if she could wear the boy’s headphones (blue/red) instead of the girls (paisley pink). The mother said that anyone could use either pair! When I agreed with the mother, she replied “it’s amazing what they learn by 2″.” -Susan G

I love the mom’s response! Yes!! Colors are for everyone.

Thanks to Susan for recognizing this moment and sharing it with us.

Gender Norm Brains

How early do children begin to exhibit an understanding of gender roles?

How early do children learn to limit themselves according to gender?

How does this impact childhood?

 

When our system of binary gender is ingrained by age 2 through socialization, can you see how children learn to:
1. Play along to get along, when it comes to gender roles. Girls do this and boys do that.
2. Limit themselves based on what is “for a boy” or “for a girl” through learned gendered coding of colors.

Using the example above, let’s play a game of what if’s:

1. What if *only* the blue/red head phones had been sitting out? Could the very little girl have thought computers are for boys because she didn’t see any pink tipping her off that computer time is also for girls?

2. If she’s learned this early that pink things are for girls and non-pink things are for boys, could the color coded toys of childhood today heavily influence her toy/play choices?
If yes, what toys are typically pink and what toys are typically not pink? What cognitive skills develop from different types of play? What cognitive skills are not developed when types of play are limited or avoided?

3. Finally, if the understanding of gender is influencing her activity choices from age 2, how would we ever know what her true interests are or could have been?

Childhood is a time for great exploration that should not be impeded by the pink or blue boxes we place our sons and daughters in, sometimes as early as that 20 week ultrasound.

We don’t let our children develop as unique and complex individuals, we let them grow up as members of one gender or the other. Their childhoods shaped by the expectations of the gender society limits them to.

 

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Melissa headshot 1 fb sizeMelissa Atkins Wardy is a speaker, media consultant, and the author of Redefining Girly: How Parents Can Fight the Stereotyping and Sexualizing of Girlhood, from Birth to Tween. She is the creator and owner of Pigtail Pals & Ballcap Buddies, a company that has been offering empowering apparel and gifts to Full of Awesome kids since 2009 www.pigtailpals.com.

Find her at www.melissaatkinswardy.com. You can connect with her on Facebook (Pigtail Pals Ballcap Buddies) and Twitter (@PigtailPals) and Pinterest (Pigtail Pals & Ballcap Buddies).