Arguably the world's least sexy garment (possibly second only to the ubiquitous flannel nightgown) is getting some sexy marketing.
To toddler girls. At WalMart.
I know, how much more wrong can this get, and we are only 3 sentences into this post.
A week ago I stopped by WalMart on the hunt for some turtlenecks for Isabella. I understand that many of us believe that WalMart is the devil of shopping, and in most situations I agree. They have horrible corporate politics. However, circumstance sometimes dictates necessity.
Isabella and I stopped by the toddler section and started picking out a range of colors in turtlenecks for next year. As we fished out the 5T wear, I noticed that some of the shirts had ruching on the necks, fancier stitching around the shoulders, and a slimmer fit. I stopped to check what I was holding, to make sure they were in fact turtleneck shirts.
They were. Except some of them were marketed as girl's shirts, while others were marketed as boy's shirts.
Girls shirts came in pink, white, red, white with sparkly hearts and red with sparkly hearts.
Boys colors included navy blue, black, white and tan.
I was initially annoyed at the color range being divided in such a fashion. As if girls were somehow incapable of wearing navy and tan. But then I noticed the tags on the shirts, and it really gave me a moment's pause.
Do you see what I see? The sassy, sexy panda. The coy kangaroo. And for the boys, cartoon animals toting various sporting equipment and striking a confident pose.
I have mentioned before that we are a household that gives our daughter the choice. The choice to be a well rounded girl. We don't prohibit her from princesses or dolls, but we DO provide her with tools, building sets, dinosaurs and a full range of transportation type toys. She has the choice to be and do exactly what she wants.
As she gets older, I know I won't be able to shield her from society's definitions of girl-as-pink. In some ways, I want her to embrace it while still being true to herself. If girly girl is her true self, I have no problem with that. Even the girliest of girls can grow up strong, to embrace rolls of power and responsibility. If she chooses any path (short of self destruction), I will happily support it. Regardless, we will have many conversations about her worth not only as a person, but as a girl, and how she can continue to be something outside the realm of pink if that is the direction her heart leads her.
But in that moment of true seeing as I looked at those tags on the shirts, I felt like I was at war with the world. And that is a disheartening feeling.
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