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):
Arts & Crafts
Baby & Toddler Toys
Dolls & Accessories
Dress Up & Pretend Play
Electronics for Kids
Learning & Education
Sports & Outdoor Play
Stuffed Animals & Plush Toys
Toy Remote Control & Play Vehicles
Tricycles, Scooters & Wagons
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.
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 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.