Shirts at Kmart.

@letsgoaussie/TikTok

TikTok mom says Kmart T-shirts telling girls to ‘be happy’ are sexist

'What are we doing to our girls?'

 

Jennifer Xia

IRL

Published Apr 16, 2021   Updated Apr 19, 2021, 10:20 am CDT

A video showing an Australian mom calling out what she says are sexist shirts in the girls’ section of Kmart has gone viral on TikTok.

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Barbara Bryan, user @letsgoaussie on TikTok, starts the video by asking, “What are we doing to our girls?”

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Bryan asks why girls are being told how to feel through messages on clothing. The camera pans across a stack of summer-themed shirts with phrases including “A whole lotta love,” “Bright as can be,” and “Take it easy.”

“They see each other’s shirts telling them how to act,” the video caption says. “Be happy, love, be perfect.”

Bryan then walks over to the boys’ shirt section and shows clothing that encourages “boldness, adventure, fun.”

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“There’s no shirts telling them how they should feel or behave,” the caption says.

The video received more than 145,000 views. There are mixed reviews in the comments, with some people supporting Bryan’s disapproval of messaging in the shirts and others saying she is being dramatic.

“I feel like this is a stretch,” one user commented. “They’re literally just catering to styles that sell best????? I don’t think I’ve ever felt influenced by a shirt.”

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Another person told Bryan to just buy clothing in the boys’ section if she likes those options better.

“They have positive and fun wording on them,” the person commented. “Spreading love and positivity is never a bad thing.”

Bryan responded with by saying boys should be encouraged to do the same.

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Others agreed and said they wish there was a mix of both messages across the boys’ and girls’ sections.

“Boys need to be told they can love and be kind and girls need to be encouraged to adventure,” one user commented.

“This comment section is NOT it,” another commented. “These products are extremely consequential to the socialization of children as they grow up. It propagates inequality.”

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According to psychology professor Phillip Merikle in an article by Psychologist World, studies have shown that “considerable information capable of informing decisions and guiding actions is perceived even when observers do not experience any awareness of perceiving.”

Despite disagreements over whether the shirts were being sexist, many people online said stores should eliminate gendered sections and just have one kid’s clothing section.

California recently introduced a bill that would remove “boys” and “girls” toy sections at department stores with more than 500 employees and would implement a $1,000 fine if the law was broken. 

State Assemblyman Evan Law, co-sponsor of the bill, said he was inspired by an 8-year-old girl who was confused by why only certain toys were sold to girls and boys.

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*First Published: Apr 16, 2021, 5:22 pm CDT