An open letter to Hanna Andersson about gender marketing (@happyhannas or #ilovemyhannas)
Posted on February 24th, 2016
I hope you don’t mind my using your given name. I feel we can be familiar, since I’ve been purchasing your clothing for my daughter (and myself) for the last eight years. Also, you’re in Portland and so are we. So I hope you’ll forgive me for that and for pointing out something in your marketing strategy that, well, drives me crazy.
It’s the girl-boy thing.
When I go to your site, I can look at girl clothes or boy clothes. When I get your catalog, I can look at girl clothes or boy clothes in separate sections. Not together. They’re in separate sections.
And you know what?
I hate it. It doesn’t matter if it’s the children’s clothing’s industry standard. It’s appalling to say “this is for girls and this is for boys.” It’s bad enough toys are “pinkified.” It’s worse that there are girly chemistry sets for making perfume. (PERFUME! I notice the non-pink box doesn’t offer that particular concoction.)
On several occasions I’ve purchased “boy” shirts for my girl (in fact, I have one I’ll pick up at your PDX store later this week). Ordering online isn’t a big deal. But do you know, I’ve been shopping with my daughter and I’ve had salespeople–always women–point out to me, in front of my daughter, that we’re holding a “boy” item of clothing? Seriously. In front of my daughter.
My child isn’t trans (she likes dragons and sharks and dinosaurs, just like I did), but there are plenty of kids who are. By separating “boy” and “girl” into different sections, you send the message that only girls dress one way and only boys dress another.
Why am I picking on you, Hanna? I’m not. This letter could be sent to just about any clothing company. But like I said, we’re both in Portland and as you know, in Portland we’re more tolerant of difference, or are supposed to be. (My daughter had trans classmates in both kindergarten and first grade.)
So would it kill your marketing department to mix the children’s clothing up a bit? Show a girl wearing a dragon shirt like the one I bought my daughter?
Or a little boy twirling in a sequined dress?
You make great kids’ clothes. (And women’s–I love your leggings.) But…you have the opportunity to set an example for the industry. From all of the women who were once girls who loved sharks and dinosaurs and dragons…take it.