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Ohio mom Abi Bechtel tweeted a photo from her local Target in early June which showed the children’s building sets aisle along with some questionable labeling.
Others from around the country shared photos from their local stores, which showed similarly problematic labeling, and we found their website was also broken down by “boys building sets” and “girls building sets.”
At the time of the initial controversy, a Target spokesperson told the Daily Dot, “At Target, our goal is to provide our guests with choices. In our toy department, we offer a wide assortment of unique, differentiated, must-have merchandise, that children of all ages, stages and interests will love. We know families are tight on time and looking for inspiration. Therefore, we continually explore how to organize our stores and website in ways that will be convenient, appealing and helpful to our guests.”
In response to claims that their store and website labeling was “sexist” the spokesperson said “that is absolutely not our intent.”
She did say that they would continue to listen to customer feedback, and it seems that the fury was enough to make them take action. A post on the Target website on Friday announced the proposed changes.
“To help guests navigate our stores, we put a lot of thought into how things are organized,” the post read. “As part of that, we use signs and displays specially designed to help guests get through the store efficiently while pointing the way to more inspiration and great products.”
They wrote that they never want guests to feel “frustrated or limited” by signage, and defended the use of gendered labeling in things like clothing (in which they’ve also had problems) while recognizing that it is unnecessary for other departments.
We heard you, and we agree. Right now, our teams are working across the store to identify areas where we can phase out gender-based signage to help strike a better balance. For example, in the kids’ Bedding area, signs will no longer feature suggestions for boys or girls, just kids. In the Toys aisles, we’ll also remove reference to gender, including the use of pink, blue, yellow or green paper on the back walls of our shelves. You’ll see these changes start to happen over the next few months.
The post closed by saying, “We thank guests all the time for challenging us to get better at what we do and take the shopping trip to new levels. We’re always listening, and your thoughts and ideas help us make Target, your Target, a better place.”
Bechtel, for her part, has gotten a lot of hate for starting the movement toward gender equality in Target’s aisles.
Today is a good day I think for not reading the comments.
— Abi Bechtel (@abianne) August 10, 2015
But ultimately, this is one small step for toy-kind, one giant leap for humanity.
Marisa Kabas is a lifestyle reporter and activist. Her work has been published by Fusion, Fast Company, and Today. She’s also served as an editorial campaigns director for Purpose PBC, a social movement incubator.