It was quite an innocuous pink pullover really. Light pink. Kind of soft and fleecy looking. As a buyer of clothes for little boys, not girls, I wouldn’t even have given it another look, if it hadn’t been for the statement emblazoned across the front: TEXTING. TO AVOID TALKING TO YOU.
I actually stopped. Right there. Mouth agape. This was a retailer that prided itself on being ethical, on supporting sustainable farmers and on buying local. That had not raised the bar, but set it, on being a responsible retail brand.
Yet here on this pretty pink pullover for girls aged 9 to 12 was one of the most irresponsible messages I’d seen in a long time. It was right up there with sexy summer bikinis for toddlers and high heels for 5 year olds.
You see, in this crazy world of selfies, cyberbullying and social media dependence, I think the world needs less ‘texting’ and more ‘talking’.
I think our daughters should be encouraged to connect with each other on personal levels and not through digital screens. To go back to those values with which we were raised, before emojis became the yardstick for expression. To really see the person in front of her, friend or foe, and respect her for what she stands for, even if she doesn’t agree with it.
I think that shirt, and so many like it, undermines that.
Yes, parents have the choice not to buy these clothes for their kids, but have you seen the other schlock that’s out there for girls? It’s mostly pink and involves princesses. What of the girls who want to go out there and take on the world without a tiara?
That’s not to mention the boys’ clothes; 10 years on and Spiderman is still an ever-present feature on everything from cozzies to PJs for boys aged 2 to 10. Never mind that all the Spiderman movies are rated PG-13.
Think about that for a second. Retailers are selling clothes featuring characters from movies these kids can’t even watch.
So manufacturers and retailers know this, but think that we will blindly buy these clothes for our kids anyway? Perhaps it’s because we do just buy the clothes anyway that they continue producing them.
Maybe that right there is the problem. Maybe we as consumers should interrogate our choices more. There’s a saying, ‘be the change you want to see in the world’. Well, maybe we need to buy the change we see in the world.
In the same way that in recent years we’ve turned to organic foods; sustainable sources; ethical farms; free range, antibiotic-free, preservative-free, hormone-free foods all in our quests to eat and live better, maybe we should apply the same conviction to the choices we make beyond the food aisles.
Let retailers know that we want the good stuff; uplifting, positive, responsible messaging, and that we won’t settle for mindless rubbish on our kids’ clothes anymore.
Or on ours, for that matter. ‘Pretty good at bad decisions’ and ‘not sorry’ are two women’s Tees that caught my eye this week – what does that even mean, for goodness sake?
It sounds so trivial, given all that is wrong and heartbreakingly sad with our world, to even be labouring this point. But maybe by putting out positive messages, even if only through the clothes that we wear, we can start to create all that is right with the world.
Human things, you know, like talking to each other again.
As opposed to texting.
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