Mom pulls off Target’s sex clothes in viral TikTok videos
Meredith Alston is no stranger to institutions calling for double standards when it comes to clothing. In high school, she says scary momshe was so often “dress code” that at one point she covered her exposed shoulders in paint and sat down to protest in the school cafeteria.
“I was constantly in dress for the length of the shorts,” Alston recalls.
The Maryland mother-of-two, known as @naptown_thrifts on TikTok, usually posts savings-themed videos, but a recent trip to Target to grab some school uniform pants for her 7-year-old inspired her to comment on the glaring gender discrepancies she found in their clothing offerings.
“Target, if you’re listening, I have to ask you a question,” Alston begins in the first of his videos on the subject, which has been viewed nearly 400,000 times.
“My daughter needed some pants for school…in the girls section we have these cute, super thin stretchy leggings.” Alston pulls a navy pant leg between her hands before reaching for the comparable item of clothing she found in the boys’ department. She describes the boys’ pants as “durable” and notes the drawstring waist and reinforced knees.
The differences are pretty stark: boys’ pants are more utilitarian and designed to last longer. Girls’ pants provide less weather and wear protection, while providing less coverage and fewer pockets (if any).
When Scary Mommy searched for navy blue pants on Target online, we found a plethora of leggings options in the girls’ department, as well as rigid zippered uniform pants that kids of all genders hate, because they are not made to play! There was a more comfortable pair of “performance uniform pants” available online, featuring an elastic waistband and soft knit fabric.
In the boys’ department there were uniform pants and fleece joggers that had equivalents in the girls’ section, but the overall mix was markedly different. The focus was on the ability to move, with a variety of “performance” and athletic pants. Cargo pants with their many pockets were only available in the boys’ section, as was a rugged-looking pair made by Volcom. The “Understoned Surf N’ Turf Pant,” according to the mega-chain’s website, is “designed for maximum comfort, versatility, and durability” and “designed with his active, adventurous lifestyle in mind. “.
Hmmm – do the girls have an active and adventurous lifestyle or…?
The Volcom pants available for girls are called “Bloom Shakalaka” and “Sunday Strut”, and they are floral and pink respectively. You can’t make this stuff up.
Alston ends the video by saying, “You know, I do everything thrift, but if I can’t find their size or the color they need for their uniform, I have to buy it new. That’s what’s local, that’s what I can afford, and those are my options.
A few commentators have suggested that Alston buy gender-neutral brands. In response to a comment, Alston replied, “Saved a few items from @Primarydotcom and LOVE them but can’t afford them on a regular basis.”
When someone pointed out that the situation with the shorts was even more distressing, Alston went to investigate and made a follow-up video of her findings.
Surprise! She found that the girls’ shorts options were less durable, more expensive, and shorter than those in the boys’ section. The lack of pockets in the girl’s designs was particularly irritating to Alston.
“My youngest daughter loves picking up rocks,” says Alston. “And she uses my pockets because her clothes don’t have pockets. So when I bought her the little boy pants that have, like, deeper pockets, she’s so happy because her clothes serve a purpose instead of just covering her up.
Although she realizes that boys’ options are also limited to appropriate “masculine” models like trucks and dinosaurs, Alston says the consequences girls and women face for what they wear are many. more serious, and they only get worse as we get older. In primary school, girls may be removed from class because their shorts are too short, but in adolescence they may see their clothes “used as an excuse for violence against women”, says Alston.
Alston doesn’t expect a juggernaut like Target to stop categorizing clothes by gender, and she points out that sizing for each gender really is somewhat different as kids get older. What she would like to see is some parity, especially given the severity of the consequences for her own daughters and other daughters.
“Clothing for little kids has a universal purpose,” says Alston. It is “intended to keep you warm in the winter and cool in the summer and to protect you from UV rays”. That girls are less well served in these ways for “aesthetic” reasons, she says, is blatant sexism.
Target has a pretty solid history when it comes to inclusion and equity, especially for a large company — their advertising is diverse, and they’ve launched product lines specifically for children with autism. It looks like they need to catch up in this area, and the sooner the better.
It’s not just a target issue, though. Most stores offer similar gender choices, and honestly, most parents don’t want to buy clothes for their kids that set them apart from their peers, even if they last longer and work better. Thank you, Supreme Patriarchy!
“It’s hard to find clothes for little girls designed the way clothes have always been designed for little boys,” laments Alston.
And it really shouldn’t be. All children deserve better.