Another in an occasional series highlighting individuals who are creating media or marketing products with positive messages for children and youth, and individuals using their creativity to promote media literacy among the young.
Any little girls on your shopping list this season? You want the best for them, right? How about starting with an empowering message.
Take a look at the Pigtail Pals line of Redefine Girly T-shirts for girls, by Melissa Wardy, featuring images of girl pilots, movie directors, race car drivers, paleontologists, and more.
Ms. Wardy is making a serious mark in cyberspace with her positive messages for girls, alongside her fight against sexualization and gender stereotyping of girls.
How did it start? Ms. Wardy had a little girl a few years ago and started shopping for clothes for her, but she found the pictures on children’s clothing lacking.
“Too much was missing from girlhood. Color, for one. But imagery being most important – astronauts, pilots, sailors, doctors, movie directors, pirates, dinosaurs, bugs…images that boys got, but not girls,” her website says.
Instead, girls’ clothing often has tiaras, cupcakes, lipsticks, butterflies, hearts, or ballerina slippers. Not enough, said Ms. Wardy. So she started her own company with T-shirts that show girls doing all sorts of things – things that grown women actually do in today’s world.
Later, the attention to a blog post she wrote about confidence made her realize that women need a boost of confidence, too. So she put yet another t-shirt into her box. The Full of Awesome t-shirt.
Melissa told me recently that she is proud of what Pigtail Pals has come to mean to families across the globe.
I adore the emails I get that tell me the Pigtail Pals tee I mailed out has become the child’s favorite, I enjoy the emails that say ‘I was out shopping and this made me think of the stuff you say’, but the true reason I do what I do is because our daughters deserve better.
And she loves the fact that the work she is doing helps others feel supported in their own efforts against sexualization and gender stereotyping.
Now, Melissa Wardy is a dynamo, true. But you don’t have to create a company, petition CEOs about sexualized ads and products, give workshops and write a blog, hold conversations daily on Facebook and Twitter, like she does, but you can do something. You can write a letter when you see something you don’t like, right? You can tell a shop proprietor you don’t like their “Too pretty for homework” T-shirt. And you can look for a different message, a better message, for the girls on your list this holiday giving season.