Childrearing

Old Navy Ticks Off the Internet by Encouraging Kids Not to Become Artists

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oldnavytopIt’s great for kids to have dreams, and we should encourage our kids to dream big and work hard for their goals, but in a recent and characteristically ham-fisted attempt to market empowerment to little girls, Old Navy has managed to tick off artists all across the Internet with these ridiculous shirts.

As many of the artists on Twitter pointed out, a working artist designed this T-shirt for Old Navy, and the rest of its clothes as well. OK, this particular shirt may have been designed by an artist who currently works for Old Navy and is wishing she’d gone to law school or something, but Old Navy certainly employs a small army of professional artists in various capacities throughout its organization. They probably don’t employ any astronauts. And speaking of employability, there are a lot more jobs out there for artists than for astronauts, and pretty much just one person gets to be president at a time.

The shirts were stocked in Old Navy’s toddlers section and were intended to encourage girls to aspire to be astronauts and presidents, which is laudable, but there’s no reason to denigrate the arts to do it. It barely even makes sense as it is. Maybe if the shirts had crossed out “princess” and replaced it with “president’ or “astronaut” then the shirts would have made more sense. As it is, it just seems like some Old Navy shirt designer was having a shitty day, and nobody anywhere in the supply line thought to say the shirts were dumb.

Now that they’re on the shelves, though, the inanity is apparent, and Old Navy released a statement saying that they were sorry and they were getting rid of the shirts.

“At Old Navy we take our responsibility to our customers seriously,” spokesperson Debbie Felix said to Today. “We would never intentionally offend anyone, and we are sorry if that has been the case. Our toddler tees come in a variety of designs including tees that feature ballerinas, unicorns, trucks and dinosaurs and include phrases like, ‘Free Spirit.’ They are meant to appeal to a wide range of aspirations. With this particular tee, as a result of customer feedback, we have decided to discontinue the design and will work to remove the item from our stores.”

The world needs kids who aspire to be artists, presidents, astronauts, doctors, scientists, carpenters, and more. Encouraging kids to find and follow a dream does not mean bashing other goals, passions, or career paths.