Target has always been one of my favorite stores. I joke that I can’t leave without spending at least $200, but it’s pretty close to the truth. I am physically incapable of passing by a Target Clearance Tag, without at least looking. No matter the aisle. Even pets, and I don’t own one!
So when news came of Target’s decision to do away with gender labeling in their toy and bedding sections, I was pretty excited. Before you jump to conclusions, Target is not removing all of their gender labeling. Clothes will still be separated by departments and feminine hygiene products will still be found where they always have. What Target is doing is sending a deliberate and public message: “We will not contribute to gender constructs.”
Quite frankly, that’s huge.
It was only five years ago that I stood in a Target aisle, staring down at the Woody Boy Pull Ups and the Princess Girl Pull Ups, trying, unsuccessfully, to come up with any explanation at all for my son. Why would they make different diapers? Why would it matter?
I remember him crying, “Why can’t I like Woody?” and being so angry and frustrated at those two simple words: Boy and Girl. His and Hers. This or That.
You bet your bottom dollar I bought him the Woody Pull Ups.
Jake felt the peer pressure, the societal pressure, the parental pressure, even at three. Pampers was forcing him to decide and if he didn’t fall into the neat little pink or blue shaped package, what then? Did that company stop to think about how those kids would feel about it?
Only last year, I had to sneak into Target to buy leggings from the Girls Department, because Jake refused outright to wear any article of clothing that anyone else labeled as ‘For Girls’.
And I know that people are up in arms over Target’s decision. They say that we’re becoming to “politically correct”. That boys are boys and girls are girls. That there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the status quo.
Except these companies are the ones telling our children what boys are and what girls are, and how they should face life. When Legos, Tonka Trucks, and Transformers are placed in the boys’ section, they’re sending a very clear message: men design and build, execute and command. When Play Kitchens, baby dolls, and Color Stylin Barbies are placed in the girls’ sections, we can’t miss the message being sent: women nurture and love and worry about their looks.
Nobody is saying that Legos and Play Kitchens are bad. We’re saying take the gender out of them. Remove the word Boy and Girl. It alienates anyone that doesn’t fall into the stereotype that these companies have created.
And there are a lot of us that don’t fall into the gender binary categories.
I’m glad to know that as Rudy gets older, we’ll be able to walk down aisles of toys that maybe aren’t all pink and all blue, all dolls and all G.I. Joes. Maybe a Princess Gown will hang beside the Super Soaker and the soccer ball. Maybe he’ll even choose all three for his Christmas Wish List. Or maybe he’ll make his mother really proud and pick a book instead.
Maybe other companies will follow suit, and he won’t cry in the middle of the aisle because he really loves Elsa, but some company decided boys don’t.
I, for one, will be certain to make Target my first stop, every time.
Right on, Target!
Don’t miss my video on Listen to Your Mother where I share my story of Jake’s transition.
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