Above: The most commonly used words in toy advertising targeted to boys.
Below: The same, for girls.
If you’ve ever entered any store selling children’s clothing, you’ve noticed many items have words emblazoned across them. On girls’ clothing you tend to find words like “princess,” “diva,” and “cupcake,” while boys’ items often feature words like “champion,” “hero,” and “sports star.” How does this make you feel? The images above are word clouds depicting the words used most often in advertisements for boys and girls toys. What one word would you use to describe your kid? A few people have a lot to say about this, and I’d love to hear what you have to say as well. Let’s talk about it for a minute…
I was reading this interesting article on Jezebel: How to Describe a Little Girl in Just One Word, and I was struck by two things. This first was that father and author, Mike Adamick, was having a little sewing competition with his wife to see who could create the finest dress for their daughter. As a crafty person, LOVE.
The second, and more important, thing that stood out was how much his argument resonated with me. I have avoided buying my daughter clothing with words like “mommy’s little sweetheart” because it just didn’t sit well with me, but I haven’t spent too much time thinking about why. His description really nailed it for me: “I searched and searched and couldn’t find anything for girls that expressed an idea of doing something — I mean actually accomplishing a fun task — rather than sitting around being cute or baked. It was one of the first times I noticed the playing field was not level when it comes to marketing, and this was just a shopping trip for newborn clothes. ”
I followed the link in his article to the word clouds pictured above, and found the data interesting to say the least. You can review the findings here: Word Cloud: How Toy Ad Vocabulary Reinforces Gender Stereotypes.
I also appreciated some of the suggestions for that “one word” to describe a child in the comments on the Jezebel article (“moxie”, “headstrong”, and “brave” stood out). I’d like to ask you, how do you feel about these types of word-emblazoned garments for your child? Is there a word or statement that you like seeing on your kid’s clothes? One that you don’t? And if you could, what “one word” would you put on your daughter or son’s clothing?