The Princess and the Pee

Let’s get something straight from jump: I enjoy fairytales as much as the next person. I’m not against Disney per se, nor am I rabidly anti-pink, despite my pink-less house and wardrobe. Most importantly, I’m not going to fill this design blog writing about kid-related stuff. However, this has been on my mind for the last few weeks, and I just can’t pass up the opportunity to see what other people in the design community think.

I have sheltered my daughter from things overly commercial, despite my involvement in the design industry. I want her childhood to be as free from pressure to be a good little capitalist as long as it can; if that’s only another 6 months, I’ll take it. To this end, she didn’t see her first Disney film until she was 2 (we were on a group vacation and it was our turn to make dinner; she watched The Little Mermaid). She doesn’t even know what Disney World is. She is learning though, because her new babysitter showers her own 1-yr-old with Disney princess memorabilia on a daily basis. We kept her away from most of television until the last year when she fell in love with Elmo and then Dinosaur Train. I told myself the latter was ok because at least she can argue the difference between stegosaurus and ankylosaurus.

Then we began potty training and oh, jeebus, was I not ready for the onslaught of awful waiting for girls! Pampers favors the ever perky Strawberry Shortcake and Dora, both capitalist zeitgeists in their own rights, although not on par with the princesses, firmly marketed by Huggies. The only recourse Pampers had was to release a Shrek’s princesses UnderJams (which don’t look a thing like the outer packaging!). Herein I stop myself from devolving into the rant: why is it that everything girl-related must at some point around two years of age boil down to princesses?

Anyway, Target came to my rescue: cute girls’ training pants that weren’t over-the-top-so-sweet-you-want-to-puke girly. I was happy to find them, and as a seasoned Target devotee, I was surprised that I felt even more appreciative of the Target brand for avoiding the princess trap. I was more willing to return to the store to buy girls’ clothing, knowing that I wasn’t going to be forced to buy all things princess.

In fact, in the 8 months that this line was available, I drove out of my way just to buy them, spending more money on my daughter’s clothes at my Target than I did anywhere else.

Three weeks ago we had to make a hasty, unscheduled trip out of town (that’s what happens when you’re in Witness Protection). In our haste, we didn’t pack enough training pants—but no worries, we were passing a Target on the way and could just pick up more of Rockin’ Bunny and her good friends Sly Cat and Dotte Dog.

Not only did I not find the training pants I wanted, my belief in the Target brand was tarnished by this, their ‘new and improved design’:

You might not be able to tell immediately what those images at the top are of, but you can sure tell that the characters that fade when wet are…wait for it…mirrors.

What’s more, there are only two options for the front princess images: a blonde and a redhead. The brunette is relegated to the backside.

Maybe Target could’ve outbid Huggies for the Disney princesses, so maybe I should congratulate them for not doing so and keeping it to simple line drawings. But I just can’t. My heart is broken that they would let me, and other like-minded parents who actually pay attention to messages aimed at their young daughters, down in such an obvious way.


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