From Huff Po:
When Target announced last week that it would be taking a gender-neutral approach to signage in its stores by no longer designating items as being for "boys" or "girls" in certain departments, like toys and bedding, people -- predictably -- freaked out.
As so often happens when a corporation makes a controversial decision these days, the retailer's Facebook page became a place for people to unleash their anger about the decision.
Mike Melgaard decided to take matters into his own hands and posed as a customer service rep for Target by making a fake Facebook account called "Ask ForHelp," which featured the company's unmistakable logo. He then used the account to expertly -- and hilariously -- troll the outraged Facebook users freaking out on Target's page.
"I remember how easy it was as a child to be socially influenced by my peers and the adults around me. Kids are little scientists," Melgaard told The Huffington Post. "They hyper-analyze everything in a way that most adults have long forgotten to do. Do you know how detrimental it is to a little child's development if he or she is too afraid to explore other interests all because society says, 'That's a boy subject' or 'That's a girl thing?' Why put that kind of stress on a child?"
HuffPost chatted with Melgaard about his motivations for impersonating Target on its Facebook page, being a "pot-stirrer" and the overwhelming response he has gotten in this new form of digital activism.
I just see opportunities all of the time to say things and jab at controversial topics. It's definitely in my nature to be a "pot-stirrer" and I usually can mix humor in with any situation I encounter. I saw Sunday night on my Facebook account that Target was moving away from gender-based labels in both the toy and children's bedding sections. Immediately, I knew there would be your typical outraged Americans spouting emotional reactions on their Facebook page. After taking a look, I was literally laughing out loud at my computer. A few more minutes in and it struck me how hilarious it would be to portray myself as a parody customer service rep. So, I did just that and the rest was history. Honestly, it was like striking comedy gold. Every one of these people gave me the ammunition I needed for a great response.
You know, at first this was just for fun. Something for my friends and I to laugh at. That being said, it seems as if I got really lucky and opened up some kind of gem here. Even when first seeing Target's headline, I assumed that this was maybe a movement for transgender people (which I would've equally supported). Of course, I did my due diligence and found out what this was really about and it had nothing to do with the topic. So, I guess in a way, I used humor to open up awareness over a subject which I wholeheartedly agree with. Am I a digital activist? I don't know, I just think I'm "Mike" and I do what I do. If people want to call me a digital activist, that's cool with me. *Insert smiley face*
I just want to say thank you to everyone for all of this support. Sure, it's just a "15 minutes of fame" kind of thing, but I really hope to make this into something much more. I love the community that spawned out of this one little trolling instance. Sometimes I get a little scared that our world is going to take a turn for the worst. Seeing people react the way they did off of this subject really leaves me with a newfound hope to keep us all on a good path. I would want nothing more than to be a part of that.
Finally, though Melgaard's fake Target account was shut down less than a day after he created it, the company offered this cheeky, not-so-subtly supportive response to his work in a Facebook post of its own on Thursday:
From Huff Po:
Target is cutting down on its use of gender-based signage -- and not everyone is happy about it.
Last week, the mega-retailer announced on its blog, A Bullseye View, that it will no longer have signs with "boy" and "girl" qualifiers in certain departments, like toys and bedding.
"We know that shopping preferences and needs change and, as guests have pointed out, in some departments like Toys, Home or Entertainment, suggesting products by gender is unnecessary," Target noted on its blog. "Right now, our teams are working across the store to identify areas where we can phase out gender-based signage to help strike a better balance."
Critics took to Twitter to speak out against Target's upcoming "androgynous signs," arguing that the changes will make it harder for shoppers to find what they're looking for. Some customers said they will no longer shop at Target. Writing at BizPac Review last week, Michael Dorstewitz quipped: "One has to wonder where this will end. The White House announced in April that it was installing a gender-neutral bathroom in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building next to the West Wing. Ike must be rolling over in his grave about that one."
Others celebrated the retailer's announcement. Rachel Simmons, co-founder of the empowerment and anti-bullying group Girls Leadership, said it was "a huge deal that Target is going gender-neutral."
“Target is a trendsetter," Simmons told ABC News on Monday. "Retailers have an incredible opportunity here. They're opening up a whole world of possibility for these kids."
The move comes two months after Ohio mom Abi Bechtel called out the retailer for a particularly questionable sign in one of its stores.
Attention Target shoppers: Say goodbye to "girls' building sets" and "boys' bedding."
The big box retailer announced Friday that it will start phasing out gender-based signage in some departments. The shift comes in response to customer feedback that distinguishing between products for girls and boys is unnecessary and maybe even harmful.
Parents and gender equality advocates welcomed the news as a significant step with potential to inspire other retailers.
"This change is a step towards removing gender limitations in childhood, but when one of the world's largest retailers does this, the ripple effect will be significant," author Melissa Atkins Wardy said in her blog, Pigtail Pals & Ballcap Buddies, which promotes gender-neutral toys, apparel and other products for children.
"This change will play a role in shifting the way kids see themselves as consumers and will help to shift the way adults see the role of gender in childhood," said Wardy, author of "Redefining Girly: How Parents Can Fight the Stereotyping and Sexualizing of Girlhood, from Birth to Tween."
Historically, Target used signs to help customers find products faster, the company said in astatement on its website. In some cases it makes sense, like with apparel, where fit and sizing differences between the sexes come into play, the statement said.
"But shopping preferences and needs change and, as guests have pointed out, in some departments like toys, home or entertainment, suggesting products by gender is unnecessary," the company said.
The changes will come over the next few months, the company said. Signs in the kids' bedding area will no longer feature suggestions for boys or girls. In the toys aisles, references to gender, including the use of pink, blue, yellow or green paper on the walls of shelves, also will be removed.
A small minority of commenters criticized Target in the online statement for giving into pressure to promote "politically correct fads" and "homogenize the genders."
Far more people applauded the decision.
"Thank you! I'm so tired of my daughter trying to play with her best friend (a boy) and him not wanting to because whatever she has is a girl toy. Or not wanting to watch the show she suggested because it's a girls' show," one commenter said. "Eliminating these gender typed divisions will help kids learn a toy is a toy, a show is a show, fun is fun."
Ohio mother Abi Bechtel was one of many Target shoppers in recent months to publicly criticize the store for marketing products based on gender. A picture she tweeted in June was widely shared, sparking debate over who's to blame for gendered toys -- toymakers or consumers.
Bechtel applauded Target for listening to consumers who agreed that "color-coded" marketing is "regressive and harmful."
"Kids pick up cues about what society thinks of gender from so many places, and I'm glad that the Target toy aisle is no longer going to be one of the places they're bombarded with ideas about what's appropriate for kids of any gender to play with," she said Saturday.
"I'm really pleased that so many people saw the potential for change and joined in asking for things to be better, and that Target listened."
From Huff Po:
Actress and reality TV celebrity Kim Richards is in trouble, again.
According to CBS Los Angeles, the former "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" star spent the night in jail after she was arrested for allegedly shoplifting at a Southern California Target store.
Richards, 50, had about $600 worth of items in her cart when store security apprehended heron Sunday, E! Online reported. When the police arrived, Richards was taken into custody and booked in Van Nuys Jail on a misdemeanor theft charge, LAPD spokesman Mike Lopez told CBSLA.
Richards' bail was set at $5,000, and she was released on Monday afternoon.
"I couldn't imagine Kim stealing or shoplifting anything. She is a giver," Richards' ex-husband Monty Brinson told ET. "I am in complete shock."
This is the second time the former child actress has been in trouble with the law this year.
In April, police arrested her for appearing intoxicated at the Beverly Hills Hotel. During the incident, she was also accused of attacking an officer. She pleaded not guilty to charges of trespassing, public intoxication, resisting arrest and battery.
"I was angry and frightened and I was scared. I knew what I had done," Richards told Dr. Phil. "The whole night is my fault. None of this would have happened if I didn’t drink."
Richards entered an alcoholic rehabilitation center after the incident at the hotel. In July, she told ET that she had completed the treatment program and been sober for more than a month.
A T-shirt being sold at Target’s stores and on its website has sparked a backlash online, as many customers are claiming the top is offensive to women.
The black shirt, which has the word “trophy” in bold white letters across the front and costs $12.99, has many slamming the retailer for treating women and girls as objects. A number of customers have been posting photos of the T-shirt, which some say they spotted in the junior’s section, on social media, publicly criticizing what they say is a sexist move on Target’s part. While the shirt has reportedly been on sale since June, it’s only recently gained steam on social media.
“Dear Target, why are you selling shirts that describe women as obtainable objects such as trophies?” wrote one user on Target’s Facebook page. “It’s honestly appalling. I’m nobody’s trophy, and I sincerely hope that in your eyes, women are more than something to be won.”
Plenty of women echoed those sentiments. “Losing outdated, ridiculous attitudes toward women could be helped if everyone, Target included, chose to stop marketing to women as though they were objects. When was the last time you saw a men’s shirt that said ‘provider’ across the chest? Let’s all do what we can to lose the stereotypes,” wrote one Facebook user. And in a tweet accompanying a photo of the shirt on display, one user added “@Target under what circumstances should any human being wear a T-shirt that indicates that they are a ‘trophy’?”
In a statement sent Tuesday to Yahoo Parenting, Target said the shirt is part of a collection for brides, despite the claim by many customers that it’s being marketed to teen girls. “It is never our intention to offend anyone, and we always appreciate receiving feedback from our guests,” wrote a spokesperson. “The [‘Trophy’ shirt] is part of a collection of engagement and wedding shirts that are available in our women’s and plus size departments. The collection also included shirts that say ‘Team Bride,’ ‘Mrs.,’ and ‘Bride.’ These shirts are intended as a fun wink and we have received an overwhelmingly positive response from our guests.”
One woman has even started a petition on Change.org demanding that Target stop selling the shirt. “The truth is that millions of women and young girls are taken as ‘trophies’ every year in war, sex trafficking, slavery, and rape,” writes Amanda R., the author of the petition. “The perpetrators see women as ‘things’ that are bought, sold, traded, and ‘won’ through force where they are then beaten, abused, tortured, raped, and murdered for the sole purpose of ‘victory.’ The word trophy should not refer to any person, man, or woman because we are not THINGS — we are human beings. Labeling any person as a ‘Trophy’ is demeaning their humanity and objectifying them as a tangible object that can be bought, used, and disposed of.” The petition, which was posted online in June, has received more than 700 signatures so far.
In response to the individual Facebook posts, Target expressed appreciation to users for sharing their opinions. “Thanks for reaching out to us! It’s never our intention to offend guests with our merchandise. This has been shared with the appropriate teams,” it wrote in response to one of the photos.
Some of those customers have posted online defending the shirt.Wrote one fan of the shirt on Twitter: “There’s nothing wrong with selling a ‘trophy’ shirt. That’s just letting people know, if you get me you’ve won.” Another added, “I would honestly buy the trophy shirt from @target. I think I’m great, and I want people to know how great I am.”
But child development specialist and body image expert Dr. Robyn Silverman says that while many customers may be able to laugh it off, the shirt sends the wrong message. “Some may say this shirt is all done in fun, but many women want to see themselves, and want to be seen, as more than just a prize someone wins and shows off to others,” she tells Yahoo Parenting. “‘Trophy wife’ typically suggests that a woman does nothing more than look pretty for the man who ‘scored’ her.”
And to the chorus of online commenters who say those who have a problem with the shirt just shouldn’t buy it, she says that isn’t a solution. “The problem can go deeper than the surface, and the solution may be more than just avoidance,” she says. “The more our young girls and boys see these messages, and there are so many each day, the more they internalize them as truth and expectation. The media does enough to demean women and box them in — I’d rather see positive words on tees that show what’s so amazing about the women wearing them rather than a label that tells them that they are simply a prize to be won.”