Editor’s Note: Babble is a part of The Walt Disney Company.
UPDATE: In a letter sent earlier this month, Gap Brand President & CEO Jeff Kirwan reached out to Alice directly, writing: “You sound like a really cool kid with a great sense of style. At Gap Kids, we try to always offer a wide range of styles and choices for girls and boys. This includes a selection of girls tees with dinosaurs, fire trucks, sharks, footballs, and some of our superheroes.” Kirwin added that the Beauty and the Beast collection is all about “the strength and bravery of girls,” which is of great importance to the Gap brand, and admitted that the company can do a better job with their offerings. “I’ve talked with our designers and we’re going to work on even more fun stuff that I think you’ll like,” he said. Kirwin later sent Alice some of the brand’s newest designs, and asked if she could provide feedback — to which Alice replied that she loves the Rey shirt and will wear it to school. Her one request? That Gap makes a Beast shirt, “because he’s big and furry and looks like Chewbacca.” He replied back telling Alice to look out for a Chewy shirt in April.
Clothes shopping with your kiddos is never easy. Each time, your patience is tested (and your money seems to vanish). But for one Washington, D.C. mom, it was a little harder.
Beth Jacob has tried (and tried) finding clothing that her 5-year-old daughter Alice likes. Anything Pokémon, superheroes, and dinosaurs would do. But these designs can only be found on boys clothes. So in an effort to make things a little more gender-neutral, Alice wrote to Gap last week asking if her favorite “boy” shirts could be made for girls.
As any supportive mom would do, Beth tried her best to make little Alice happy. This included having her try on the boys clothes that she loved, but they just didn’t fit her petite frame, Beth wrote in a Washington Post article about this experience.
Then Beth learned that her daughter isn’t the only child in their community who is hoping for more adventurous styles. Beth tells Babble, “Alice and her friends — boys and girls alike — like animals and superheroes, race cars and bright colors, sports and adventure. Especially at her age, the kids don’t always divide themselves by gender, or at least they’re pretty fluid about it.” This had Beth wondering why girls clothes continually feature “lollipops, soft, domesticated animals, and pastels” while boys have “wild animals doing risky things.” They needed to do something to make this right.
This past week, Alice came home to find Beth shopping for her brother on the Gap website. She saw clothing in the boys department she wanted for herself — items that reflect the true embodiment of Alice. So just like any of her favorite comic book characters, Alice decided to do something about it. With help from her mom, Alice wrote a letter to Gap (which she adorably signed with a giant superhero bunny) to see if they could make those items in girls sizes.
“My name is Alice Jacob and I am almost 5 1/2 years old. I like cool shirts like Superman, and Batman shirts, and race car shirts, too. All your girl shirts are pink, and princesses, and stuff like that. The boys shirt[s] are really cool. They have Superman, Batman, rock and roll, and sports,” she passionately writes. “What about girls who like those things like me and my friend Olivia? Can you make some cool girls shirts please? Or, can you make a no boys or girls section — only a kids section? Thank you!”
What an impressive 5-year-old! While this feels really empowering to most of us (what a brilliant idea a kids section would be!), not everyone has been supportive of the letter. Responses to Beth’s Washington Post article range from suggesting that she sew her own clothes to finding indie clothing brands to meet her needs. “I hear that, I do. But here’s the thing … Not everyone has the means or time to search out different options or source stuff from independent clothing companies online,” Beth tells Babble. “The choice shouldn’t be whether they get to wear shirts that say ‘born to shop’ or whether you can afford to spend $34 on a shirt from somewhere hip and progressive online.”
While Beth is proud of Alice for speaking up in her letter, she is not surprised to see her daughter take a stand. To Beth, Alice has always been the kind of kid who isn’t afraid to be herself. And for her family, this quality has become one of Alice’s greatest superpowers. The experience has also reminded Beth about the most important part of parenting — that all children are unique. Whether it’s a young girl hoping to be president one day or a young boy who loves ballet, gender does not need to dictate how a child is received and supported in this world. Beth hopes that if major retailers like the Gap hear her daughter’s plea, they will see that all kids love being superheroes and deserve clothing that reflects who they truly are. As Beth shares with Babble, she has spent a lot of time explaining the real meaning of being a superhero to her kids.
“Being brave enough to like what you like, and not being afraid to be yourself — that’s a little like being a superhero,” she says. “That’s what I want my kids to know how to do — for themselves, and for every kid out there who feels different. Because don’t all of us feel different deep down sometimes?”
While she hasn’t heard from the Gap yet, Alice is hopeful and looking forward to a future outfit she can rock. You go girl!
h/t: Washington Post