Why can’t Girls be Superheroes too?

I’m not what you would call a regular customer at the Gap. It isn’t personal, I’m just not a Gap kind of girl. But, I somehow ended up with a giftcard, so decided to browse online. Since all of the stores near me have closed.

Not finding anything for myself, I wandered over to the kids section. You see, the kid, she is into T-shirts. She loves going to school and showing off her new shirts. We just picked out two from Target.

Awesome shirts, by the way. One is green and reminds us that dinosaurs are people too. Another is grey and features the Japanese frog from the “Hello Kitty” line. The one I used to love, instead of Hello Kitty, when I was a kid.

Hoping to find some more graphic kids shirts along these lines, I clicked on the Gap link for their “Junk Food” T-shirts for children. (I have no clue if this is their line or a line they feature, and I don’t care enough to find out.)

Oh! Look! It’s Smurfette! Awesome! I love Smurf… wait? What is Smurfette doing?

Smurfs don't shop!Why is she shopping? I don’t remember a mall in Smurf Village. Hmm. Lets try the next one…

Because, being popular is what's important, kids.So, girls care about being popular and shopping, huh? Good to know.

By this point, I am already annoyed, but when my eyes hit this next one, My head just explodes:

*Pakoosh* (That's the sound of my head fucking exploding)SMURFS. SHOULD. NOT. EVER. HOLLA.

Not all the shirts were as horrific as these, but the contrast between the girls shirts and the boys shirts was very obvious.

The girls shirts were overwhelmingly pink, and while there were two (bright pink) Beatles shirts that didn’t completely offend me, the majority of the shirts for little girls revolved around shopping, love, and candy.  Sometimes,  a combination of all three:

I probably would have accepted this without the "You Drive me" part.“Have romantic relationships at five! Eat junk food! Buy our product!”

Seriously, people wonder why we are raising a bunch of vapid, self obsessed, shopaholics who aspire to be like such “role models” as  Paris Hilton.

Buy me stuff!And we wonder why we have all these over-sexualized tweens running around:

That's right. Learn to manipulate them young!

For the record, The boys shirts were awesome, and I would have bought any one of them for The Kid.  But by the time I got to them, I was pretty well disgusted.

Boys, apparently, get to be superheroes. They get Star Wars, Star Trek, and Batman Shirts.  Their Beatles shirts aren’t fucking pink.

As a mother to three girls, when I see shit like this, I just want to cry. I mean, I know this isn’t the only, or even the worst instance of this. This happens all the time. (Have you seen Bratz dolls? And Bratz babies with thongs? Gah.)

But it’s going to continue unless we, as parent’s, and consumers,  start doing something about it. Refusing to buy shit like this. See it for what it is. We should think about using our considerable power to force retailers into  thinking about the message they’re trying to send our girls, instead of just slapping random cutsey crap onto shirts, dying it barbie-barf-pink, and calling it a day. It’s not innocent and harmless. Especially when it’s everywhere.

So, I propose we say “Fuck the Gap.” And anyone else who wants to keep pushing this crap on us and our girls. And boys for that matter.

I know how hard it is not to give in to this, and let our kids wear this stuff, let them learn this stuff, especially as they get older and start pushing to be like their friends, but it’s ridiculous for us to expect this to change if we don’t do something about it. We need to stop telling ourselves it doesn’t matter, that it’s just a silly little thing. That girls should only love pink and candy and shopping while boys save the world.

It matters. Pass it on.



Filed under Rants, Rambling, and Musing., Things That Suck

26 responses to “Why can’t Girls be Superheroes too?

  1. CJ

    This post falls in the “top ten reasons I totally think you rock!” OUR girls won’t be stereotypical or fit into any mold. OUR girls rock. And I LOVE this line: SMURFS. SHOULD. NOT. EVER. HOLLA.

    So, so true! This is my favorite post of the week. Seriously!

  2. It continues to amaze me the way stores are insensitive to issues like this. You would think that stores would have learned from Abercrombie & Fitch fiascos that parents are paying attention, especially in this economy.

    The good news, when we were in the Gap the last time, PunditGirl was more attracted to the gray on gray Harry Potter shirt!

  3. I hate these. And I love the Gap. Dilemma.

  4. Excellent post! WTF with the smurf shirts?? That’s just weird. I’m finding it increasingly hard to just shop for clothes for my daughter because of all this very thing.

    • pandorican

      You know, if it had been JUST a smurf on the shirt, I would have been fine with it. I love smurfs. Why make them into Slut Smurfs who Shop and Holla?

  5. You’re right – it sucks. It’s one of the reasons that I almost never shop in stores with child. I much prefer to buy on-line from places like Lands End, and Hanna Andersson (when I can afford it!), because there isn’t any of that crap.

  6. glummum

    Both my girls hate pink. And my youngest (almost 13) absolutely HATES girls t shirts. We bought her 6 t shirts at Kohls from the boys dept . They have mario (from video games), star wars and a cute neon one with bert and ernie. No creepy sayings or nuthin. It is very scary what is out there for girls. I hope more girls and moms use their heads when shopping….

    And those smurfs just might give me nightmares.
    (still have to set up a blogroll)

  7. pandorican

    Oh, I’ll have to go check the boy’s section in Kohl’s. I haven’t been there in awhile! She would LOVE a Mario shirt.

  8. glummum

    They were on sale when we got them. I want to say 3/$20 or something like that. Maybe it was 2/$20. At any rate, it was so nice to find something she would actually wear and be comfortable in.

  9. pandorican

    Thanks, I’m totally heading over there later.

  10. The Gap can suck my left one. Forget them.

  11. glummum

    Me thinks we are stopping there later too.

  12. Pingback: Shaping Youth » Overachievers: Interview with Liz Funk Author of SuperGirls Speak Out!

  13. Hi all, at Shaping Youth (media and marketing’s impact on kids) we cover this crud all the time, about how our girls are battling commercial cues in surround sound…

    In fact, here’s an interview with Girl Mogul tee-shirt queen Andrea for healthier messages: http://blog.shapingyouth.org/?p=3479 And as part of our ‘all things girl’ series, we kicked off a “tee party” contest to do better:

    Another issue I have is with the snarky “tees with ‘tude” that have attitude appeal to kids, and seem to normalize sass-mouth behavioral cues that are, um…less than ideal.


    What say you?

  14. 100% agreed, “girl” attire is usually enough to split my head in half. My 5yo is pretty into her “President Not Princess” shirt right now: http://www.polkadotpatch.com/avas-closet-president-not-princess-black-shirt.html

    Apparently there’s a “Doctor Not Diva” one too….

  15. pandorican

    Oh I LOVE that shirt! Thank you for the link!

  16. Actually, I sent you a whole slew of cool shirts and sayings (like that one above) from an interview I did with Girl Mogul on Shaping Youth, but it must have triggered your spam filter when I linked to my post. Can you check your file? It was a long one, or I’d resurrect it!

    It was specifically on this topic of tees and our ‘all things girl’ series on Shaping Youth, since we hosted a ‘tee-party’ kick off to come up with better cues for girls than this commercialized crud hitting the tipping point of toxicity. Anyway, I also called to task the ‘tees with ‘tude’ that prompt sass-mouth behavior and ‘mean girl’-isms…again, I’d give you the link, but I don’t want it to eat the post again. So ping me offline: amy at shapingyouth dot org.

    We’re clearly on the same page…

  17. I HATE this stuff. There ARE companies making good stuff for girls but they aren’t in every corner mall with a zillion ad dollars.

    The Gap will give lip service to promoting “healthy images for girls” but they and Old Navy have clothes for 6 year old that I don’t want a 12 year old wearing. Do little girls really need “low-cut” jeans?

  18. Kristina

    Thank you for posting this. My daughter is only 3 and we have the toughest time finding non 19 year old club clothing for her. What is wrong with manufacturers. More so, they have to be selling them,(or they would have stopped selling them by now) who are these people buying these clothes?

  19. You read my mind. I went in that store the other day took one look at the girl t-shirts vs. the boy t-shirts and walked out. I don’t mind being overrun by pink (okay I mind a little bit), being the mom of two young girls, but I do mind corporations pushing my children toward old fashioned, stereotypical female roles.

    So what I’m trying to say is, thank you.

  20. pandorican

    CCB- Your Welcome.

    FOM- I have heard people argue that their kids prefer lower jeans for comfort reasons. I’m not a fan though. Very few WOMEN should wear those things, in my opinion, if only because it makes even the most fit of us end up with instant muffin top!( Or asscrack/thong displayed for all to see)

    Kristina- There’s some decent stuff out there, you may have to dig through loads of crap to find it though.

    Amy- Comment resurrected! Thanks for the linkage!

  21. This kind of thing goes on in woman’s clothing too, though I’m fairly sure you’re just as aware of it as I. It was one of the first things I noticed when I started building up a wardrobe to go full time. Any t-shirts I could find in the major stores or goodwill had majorly creepy messages on them. I’ve resorted to thinkgeek and webcomic stores for my snarky t-shirt needs.

  22. ooh, thanks for the think geek lead! Just got back from our local humane society and they have a cute one for their obedience training, ‘sit happens.’

    I’ve found a few “snarky-for-a-purpose” tees to counter-market the boy toy messaging too (most horrific being the ‘Hooters girl in training’ toddler tee, which frankly makes me wish parenting came with a license)…I like “not intended for decorative use” and the teens we’re working with at the girls’ economic/lifeskills day are using, “Smarter than Barbie, stronger than Ken.” (which landed a few comments in my workout class when I wore it)

    We tried to do a green teen contest on Eco Child’s Play, and one reader came up with “Alternative Energy: Girl Power,” which seems like it’s begging for a cool graphic for productization…

    I’d be willing to donate a copy of the hardback Packaging Girlhood.com if you want to run a contest on YOUR blog here for “cool ideas we WISH were available in stores?”

    The two authors are on our nonprofit advisory board, and are responsible for the ‘don’t do-over’ Dora petition to try to keep her an explorer instead of a tween fashionista fluff-n-puff that’s being planned, as you can see here:

    They’re also coming out with Packaging Boyhood.com later this year…(Oct. I think)…it’ll be interesting to hear what they’ve found in the boys’ messaging arena…

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