When it comes to the girl vs boy product debate, over the last couple of years it seems plenty of the big companies have made a move towards gender neutrality, which their customers seem to welcome.
Hamleys ditched its blue and pink ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ store signs after being accused of “gender apartheid” for example, and groups like Toys R Us don’t bother with girls and boys tabs on their site.
So perhaps it’s no surprise that these ads – for kids clothes from Gap – have caused an uproar all over the internet for what one Twitter user called “peddling sexism to kids”. ?
The ads in question show a girl and boy model, wearing what we think are actually pretty cute outfits. It’s the accompanying captions that have caused the outrage.
The text next to the boy reads: ‘The little scholar. Your future stars here. Shirts + graphic tees + genius idea.”
Next to the girl is a caption that reads: “The social butterfly. Chambray shirts + logo sweaters are the talk of the playground.”
For many of the critics that have taken to Twitter over the ads, the issue isn’t so much with the clothes themselves as with the disparity between the aspirations for boys versus girls. One tweeter said:
“The people @ukgap think boys should be clever and girls should be fashionable. Also can’t spell Einstein.” (Did you spot that on the T-shirt)
Another wrote: “Really @UKGap? Why do you want to limit my daughter’s aspirations? Not hard to break this boring, sexist habit.”
While another commented: “Shame on you @UKGap for this disgraceful #sexism that diminishes little girls #NotBuyingIt @PinkstinksUK“.
And former children’s laureate Malorie Blackman simply asked: “What the actual hell?”
Here at MFM HQ, we totally get the criticism Gap have had for this one – so many other big companies have taken great strides to move away from the boy / girl stereotypes, we’re not sure what Gap were even thinking sending these ads out.
Though one of our team members does wonder if people are being a bit harsh on Gap. Another ad in the range features a boy in an outfit captioned The Comedian – possibly meant by Gap as an alternative to the Social Butterfly, and The Adventurer – a little girl wearing a skirt over jeans.
She wonders if perhaps Gap have tried but not got it quite right: would it all have been OK if they’d bowed to tokenism and swapped the boys and girls round?
Will they give up on trying anything creative from now on and just use ads that show plain t-shirts, no kids, no words?
Gap hasn’t commented yet – we’ll let you know as soon as they do.
What do you think?