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 “Redefining Girly: How Parents Can Fight the Stereotyping and Sexualization of Girlhood, From Birth to Tween”, to be released January 2014 by Chicago Review Press. She is also one of the Executive Directors of the Brave Girls Alliance, a non-profit think tank that brings experts and activist voices together to ask for better media for our kids.


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. We need to “Redefine Girly” and show the world just how smart, brave, and adventurous our daughters can be. These are the things I want for my own young daughter, and the ideals by which my husband and I raise her. 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”. I want my son to be a whole person, whose intelligence and emotions are recognized as human, not inferior.

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.

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 had the sublime experience of investigating crime while living in a place where body worship was a hobby. I have also traveled to Europe, Africa, Mexico, and Hawaii. All of those experiences led me to start thinking about this: The focus our culture puts on body perfection and sex appeal, coupled with the desensitization of sexual intimacy and the ambient nature of pornography, is a vehicle for marketers to saturate the marketplace with products that blur the line of taboo and affect our collective social consciousness.

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, Katy Perry-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 this. 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