So, I read lots of stuff on the internet that could be considered a little… fluffy. When this headline caught my eye:
I clicked open, positive I was about to read something about discriminatory practices at my favorite store; something social-justice centric.
I was wrong.
A group of New Jersey students are wagging their collective finger at Target for displaying shirts with the word “trophy” on it in the junior department, where girls might shop as early as middle school. As a mom, should I be upset that a major retailer is trying to entice girls and women to label themselves as trophies? Is it okay for a 13-year-old to wear the words trophy on her chest? Is that demeaning?
My daughter is now old enough to shop without my supervision, but I remember the bane of my existence when she was in the eighth grade: those cutesy-poo loungewear ensembles with Angel or Pink stamped on the butt in glittery letters. It was my wake-up call that my little girl wasn’t a little girl anymore and that she had ideas about expression that clashed with mine. It went beyond “I don’t like what you’re wearing.” I had concerns that her clothes were sending the wrong message to people who saw her wearing them and then dimly recalled that time my dad and I argued over a pair of satin shorty shorts I wanted to wear to the roller skating rink.
As a mom, I don’t like to see young girls in clothes with provocative or vapid sayings… I don’t like seeing anyone wearing them, actually, but Target showcasing a “trophy tee” in the junior department? Meh. It doesn’t make me want to jump on the feminist bandwagon and chat “I am woman hear me roar.”
If you have a daughter, you can set boundaries on what type of clothing is acceptable. When tweens and younger teens shop in the same place as adult women, there may be times when mom has to make the call on whether there should be rules or limits about clothing… you know, to be a mom.
My take? Clothing is a form of self-expression and a temporary one at that. I would certainly not encourage my teen to wear a shirt that said trophy; in fact, I’d probably strongly steer her away from it because it’s kind of tacky — in my book. I might even refuse to purchase it with my money. But would I outright forbid her to have it?
I don’t think I would.
Let’s pretend for a minute that the thing your child wants most in this whole, wide world is a “trophy tee” from Target… I know, barf, right? I mean, I’d certainly hope not, but what if she wanted to buy it using her birthday or babysitting money?
I think I’d roll my eyes and use some kind of folksy expression about picking battles or frying bigger fish… and let her have the damn shirt. There would be discussions about what the words on the shirt really meant and how that might cause others to use her wardrobe choice as a way to define her in a way that might make her uncomfortable. Depending on her age, there would probably be limitations on where she could wear it.
But, I don’t think Target is leading the charge on sexism because they sell this shirt. A young woman wearing it probably doesn’t send the most progressive message but I think saying that it objectifies the wearer is a bit of a stretch.
Target is a big store that sells a lot of things that don’t mesh with my belief system or ideals on child rearing, such as fad diet aids or violent video games. Are we going to accuse Target of being pro-eating disorder or responsible for violence? I don’t think so.
To be clear, I’m not a fan of the piece of fabric that caused this kerfuffle: not as a woman, a mom or a consumer. But at the end of the day, it’s not a label, it’s just a shirt.