Melissa Wardy, Benny Boy and The Original Pigtail Pal

Melissa Atkins Wardy is the founder and CEO of Pigtail Pals & Ballcap Buddies, an inspiring apparel and gift company for full of awesome kids. She is the author of the critically-acclaimed book “Redefining Girly: How Parents Can Fight the Stereotyping and Sexualization of Girlhood, From Birth to Tween”, Chicago Review Press.

Melissa travels the country working as a consultant to children’s media creators and as a keynote speaker addressing parents, students, universities and parenting and women’s groups.

Mom-created apparel company Pigtail Pals – Redefine Girly was launched in May 2009 to empower girls to change the way the world thinks about them. Our blog launched a year later in 2010. PPBB believes we need to “Redefine Girly” and show the world just how smart, brave, and adventurous our daughters can be. Melissa wanted this not only for her own young daughter, but for all girls.  As Melissa’s son turned into toddler she became aware of the stereotypes and limitations boys face as they grow through childhood. In 2012 the company expanded to include boys’ apparel and include boys’ issues in our advocacy work. The company is now known as “Pigtail Pals & Ballcap Buddies” and we are “Childhood Inspired”. We believe there are many ways to be a girl and many ways to be a boy, and children should define for themselves what that means.

As a mother, I want both of my children, boy and girl, to grow in a healthy childhood free of gender stereotypes and sexualized messages. Pigtail Pals & Ballcap Buddies was created to provide parents with images and messages they would be proud to raise their children with.


From Melissa……

About this Blog: I have a lot to say about childhood and what I perceive is the garbage being marketed to children. I felt parents needed a place to come together to discuss what a lot of us are noticing about the children’s marketplace. Since launching PPBB, I have talked face to face with several thousand parents regarding the hyper-sexualized and stereotypes children’s marketplace. What I notice is this: Parents don’t like trends they are seeing and feel disgusted by a lot of the options, but don’t know what to do about it.  This is a place for all of us, to share stories about ourselves and our children, and learn something along the way.

About Melissa Wardy: I am a former tree climbing – soccer playing – digging in the mud kind of gal. I was raised in a sports loving family with two younger brothers and two parents whose mantra was “Go outside and play.” My memories of childhood are filled with adventure, fort building, caterpillar hunting, flashlight tag, and slip-and-slides. I played with My Little Ponies, but they usually had been taken as POW by the GI Joe guys.

After graduating the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities with a degree in Sociology/Criminology, I moved to Southern California where I worked in criminal investigations and subpoena compliance. I traveled to Europe, Africa, Mexico, and Hawaii before having my children. My husband and I have been married for eleven years and we enjoy raising our kids in the Midwest.

Now as the mother of two young children, I do not accept the messages and toys the general media is trying to sell to my family. Appartently my daughter is supposed to be a fashion and appearance-obsessed, boy crazy prepubescent girl who turns into a thong-wearing, pop-diva singing, midriff-baring grade schooler. And my son is supposed to be a sports-obsessed war-machine cave man. I don’t necessarily agree with any of this. Not at all.

So I’m raising them differently. I’m raising Amelia and Benny free of binary, stereotyped gender roles and regressive or sexualized toys, apparel, and media. No, thanks. Not for my child. Preferably, not for yours.

Contact: melissa (dot) wardy (at) pigtailpals (dot) com