Orders over $75 ship free within the United States.

Valentine's Day: Kinda Creepy, or Super Creepy?

January 14, 2019 5 Comments

Valentine's Day: Kinda Creepy, or Super Creepy?

Valentine's Day is coming, and the big box stores are ready. On a shopping trip the other day the kids and I spotted a t-shirt for toddler boys that said Heart Breaker. Society expects two-year-olds to break hearts, apparently. Of whom? Little girls?

Online cutesy Star Wars shirt beckon, “Yoda One For Me.” Lightning McQueen valentines declare, "You make my motor race!" Hard as it is to turn down anything Star Wars or Lightning McQueen in this house, we'll be steering clear of those. Because it's all a little weird, right? This idea that little kids are supposed to pick out one special someone to -- to do what with, exactly? Fall in love? And what exactly do they even do when they’re in love? 

So far this season we’ve seen “Ladies Love Me” shirts, because the “ladies” in question are capable, somehow, of actually loving little boys, and those boys are crass enough to brag about it. “Heartthrob,” like the wearer is some kind of straight-out sex symbol making all the girls scream. “Little Heart Breaker” and “Mommy’s Little Flirt,” as if children know how to flirt or the consequences of it.

It gets uncomfortable. Each January and February like clockwork, shirts, cards, and accessories come out of the woodwork to sexualize kids and insinuate that they should have one special someone, or be kissing someone, or letting someone kiss them. From shirts to candy hearts to printed Valentines, it boils down to romance and sex. And that’s kinda creepy. They're kids.

So let's flip the script on this holiday.

Love Is My Superpower by Free To Be Kids (Shop >)

Valentine’s Day can be about so many more kinds of love than the romantic, when-a-girl-loves-a-boy kind. It can be about friendship. Our kids need encouragement to value platonic friendships: society pushes against them, from TV shows portraying kids playing girls versus boys teams to the omnipresent social messages that girls and boys should have different interests, wear different things on their clothes, love different TV shows, play separate games, and even enjoy separate toys. Valentine’s Day can be a time that we help our kids think about being friends with people of the opposite sex: what they gain from those relationships and how they can better cultivate them.

Love Yourself by Free To Be Kids (Shop >)

We can also celebrate self-love. Buy something for yourself for Valentine’s Day. Model self-care, a little bit of self-indulgence. Talk about how we love ourselves, what it means and what actions we take that show our self-love. How we engage in hobbies we like. How we stand up for causes we care about. How we don’t let ourselves get pushed around, how we make up our own minds and stay true to ourselves.

I Love Everyone by Free To Be Kids (Shop >)

Then there’s global love, love for humankind. What do we do for humanity? What Valentine can we give the world? Maybe we can recycle. Maybe we can smile at a stranger, or leave a Valentine for someone who might not get one, like a nursing home resident.

I Have Decided To Stick With Love by Free To Be Kids (Shop >)

This is perhaps the most important kind of love. The world’s focused on heartbreakers, and we need to focus instead on world-healers.

Love Love Love by Free To Be Kids (Shop >)

We’ve just launched our Valentine’s Day Shop, and we have shirts that help reflect all those kinds of love -- no “Mommy’s Little Flirt” here! Love is kind of our thing, so we have all the kinds. Self love, superpower love, patriotic love, love that stands up against hate, even monster love.

If you're into celebrating Valentine's Day with a shirt for your little that will show an allegiance and commitment to higher love, not just schoolkid romance, we've got you covered.

We also know most kids will want to bring valentines to school, and it can be super hard to find ones that reflect your values -- loving the world rather than "being mine" -- so we’ve also created our own free printable valentines and treat bag toppers. There are four different designs, and each comes in a full-color print-and-go version, or an outlined color-it-yourself version. See all eight sets here (link).


We hope we've hooked you up with everything you need to jettison the creepy heartbreaker t-shirts and romance-laced valentines this year! Let's focus instead on self-love, love for friends, and love for the world. That’s what we need to teach our kids, not some weird syrupy version of romance when they’re too young to understand what it’s about.

We don't need any more heartbreakers. We need more world-healers.

- - -

NEW TO FREE TO BE KIDS

We design and create baby, kids, and even a few grownup clothes with positive messages and nary a gender cliche in sight. We believe clothes send a message, and our mission is to spread positive messages one fashion statement at a time.



5 Responses

Franny
Franny

February 05, 2018

I totally agree with you about “Ladies Love Me” and similar shirts! Another off-putting aspect is that they assume heterosexuality. Not every kid will be romantically interested the opposite gender when they grow up.

Heather Valle
Heather Valle

January 29, 2018

Yaaay! Love the new post and the ‘humankind’ inclusive language. Bravo to you and will be sharing this with friends! Thanks, FTBK!

Courtney
Courtney

January 15, 2018

Humankind it is! Funny, that’s what we actually normally use. :)

Viki
Viki

January 15, 2018

These Valentine’s are spot on, thanks! I also agree with Heather’s comment re using humankind instead of mankind. Thanks for the work you do!

Heather Valle
Heather Valle

January 14, 2018

I LOVE your store! Bought several of the kid shirts for Christmas gifts this year and will continue to support your amazing business! One request: Would it be possible to say “humankind” rather than “mankind” in your posts and webpages? If we are going to teach kids about empowerment, boy or girl (or non-binary) shouldn’t it include neutral and empowering language rather than male-centric terms? Just my thoughts…

Leave a comment


Also in News

We're taking back the flag.
We're taking back the flag.

June 03, 2019 25 Comments

Too many people wrap themselves in the flag and speak words of hate. But the American flag shouldn't stand for hate and intolerance.

Read More

We don't want your Pride money.
We don't want your Pride money.

May 25, 2019 20 Comments

Give it to these queer-owned shops instead.

Read More

Father's Day Gift Guide
Father's Day Gift Guide

May 24, 2019

It's a pretty awesome feeling to see yourself celebrated as smart, kind, feminist, or a straight up superhero.

Read More