Santa, baby, we’ve gotta talk about some things.
Basically, a lot of your mall avatars (and we’re not getting into logistics here, Santa, so we’re just assuming this works somehow on a magical level) and their elf helpers and photographers are still masters of gender stereotyping.
Every Christmas we pack the kids into the minivan in their matching holiday t-shirts to come see you. They want to whisper Christmas wishes in your ear -- or shout them out for most of the mall, just to be sure you'll hear them. They wait in a long, long line, then turn the corner and, suddenly, it’s Christmas in all its bows and buntings and fake snow, with you literally enthroned at the head of it all. They squeal. They run and give you hugs. They love you. They clamber into your lap.
Last year you asked my son, who was yearning to find a dollhouse under the tree, “What do you want for Christmas? A truck?” He did not want a truck. In fact, it was his little sister who loved all things vehicular and pined for a racetrack for her beloved Blaze and the Monster Machines trucks. She didn’t get a chance to tell you.
This year, Santa, you and your elves were a real mess of gender stereotyping. Your photographer elf handed Big Brother a car to hold, which Little Sister stared at longingly. Missing her cues, the photographer elf waved an Elsa doll at her, shook it and yelled, “WHO’S THIS? WHO’S THIS?” She was totally confused, like, Dude, I have no clue who the heck you’ve waving at me, but I really want that car. Why does my brother get the car?
“She doesn’t know who that is,” my husband and I muttered uncomfortably, practically in unison.
“Oh wow, the only little girl in the country who doesn’t know who Elsa is!” the photographer replied, which is pretty sweeping generalization, right?
Your photographer elf then held up Mickey Mouse to get Big Brother’s attention, presumably because said Frozen doll would hold no interest for him. Again, he yelled, “WHO’S THIS?” and then brandished Minnie Mouse at Little Sister and shouted his now-familiar “WHO’S THIS?” Because, you know, she can only be expected to identify and show interest in Minnie Mouse, and her brother in Mickey.
It was awkward, Santa. Kids these days, they're allowed to like whatever they want. So they like all kinds of different things. Assigning "girl toys" and "boy toys" isn't cool.
And while we're on the subject, can you maybe ask your elves to ease up on the “Little Boy” and “Little Girl” identifiers? A friend of mine has a four-year-old with hair down past his shoulders and the kind of elfish (ha!) face that gets him mistaken for female a lot. He finds it deeply offensive when people call him a girl. If people like you keep doing it, he’ll absorb the message -- like his older brother did -- that it’s not okay for a boy to have long hair, and he’ll cut it all off to conform to your outdated gender norms.
This doesn’t even touch the number of kids who want to visit you but identify as a gender other than the one they’re born with, or somewhere outside of the boy/girl gender binary. Being misgendered can be totally devastating, Santa, especially coming from a magical authority figure who’s supposed to be an avatar of acceptance and love.
So we'd like to make a humble proposal, Santa: call kids “my friend,” or ask their parents for their names. Ask them what they want for Christmas -- don’t put words in their mouths or make gendered suggestions (for reticent kids, maybe offer ideas without gendered baggage, like books or blocks. Science stuff. Art supplies. You’re the master of gift giving; surely you can come up with some solutions here).
And please, please ask your elves to rethink their gender stereotypes and ask kids which prop they want, rather than just pushing the gendered option on them. Give them some agency -- and some choice about their own identity. Because you can't know just by a kid's gender what they're interested in. Lots of boys like cats and unicorns. Tons of girls love dinosaurs and dump trucks.
We love you Santa. We really do. We love your magic, we love your stories, we love your sleigh and your eight tiny reindeer (especially Rudolph). You just need an update. Get with the times. And maybe get Mrs. Claus out of the kitchen. It is 2018. When does she get to drive the sleigh?
We design and create baby and kids 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.