Last week, after being called out by Abi Bechtel on twitter for sexist product labeling, Target declared that they plan to remove all gender-based signage from their stores.
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.
Gender expectation and labeling is spread so deeply across all layers of product marketing, so it was exciting for me to see such a big player decide to take its deconstruction so seriously. I am particularly glad to see their focus on the relationship between gender assumptions and color (i.e. blue is for boys, pink is for girls)– which I find to be a particularly suffocating mode of gender imprisonment.
In lieu of all these exciting changes, I sat down with a manager at Target, to see what she thinks about the changes.
What changes are we actually going to see in stores?
The words “boys” and “girls” written on tags and signs are going to be completely phased out. Departments, like clothing, will still be divided by “girls” and “boys” styles, but there won’t be labels denoting them as such. Employees will now reference all items by their unique codes, rather than gender-specific departments.
Do you think getting rid of the gender-based signs will make a big difference to kids?
A lot of people do, but I really don’t think so. Little kids gravitate towards what they want, regardless of what a sign says. Parents are the ones who let the gender-biased labels dictate what they will buy their children.
So, you think it will make more of an impact on adult behavior than children’s?
Definitely. Older generations are still uncomfortable buying their children clothes and toys that are targeted for the opposite sex. Younger parents couldn’t care less about the labels, but don’t want their kids growing up with around them. It will be interesting to see how people react during the holidays.
Are there differences between what parents will buy boys vs. girls?
Generally, gender fluidity and drag seem easier for girls than boys with parents of any generation. Often times, little girls are told they can be Batman or Spider-Man, but parents are still very hesitant about buying their son a dress.