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Sweeping changes are coming to an American retail giant.

And they really hit the bull's-eye ... if you'll pardon my pun.

It's not so much about what you will see browsing the aisles of your local Target but rather what you won't.


Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

In several sections of its stores, Target is removing signs that suggests products are for people of a particular gender.

In a blog post published Aug. 7, 2015, Target explained why it's phasing out men/women and boy/girl references in certain shopping areas.

In some sections, "suggesting products by gender is unnecessary," Target explained, and it's not what today's customers are looking for in a shopping experience.

"How we all shopped five years ago or 10 years ago looks different to how we shop today," Molly Snyder, a spokesperson for Target, told Upworthy.

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

However, "in some cases, like apparel, where there are fit and sizing differences, [referencing gender] makes sense," the company said.

But in sections like entertainment, kids' bedding, and toys, customers will stop seeing gender-specific labels or pinks, blues, yellows, or greens used to imply a product is only for one gender.

"Why would we tell a kid they can't like cars or pirates or fairies or pink? Go for it, kid."

Target — which hasn't had the best track record when it comes to gender stereotyping (Remember these sexist superhero baby pajamas? Or when an Ohio store thought it needed to point out the difference between "building sets" and "girls' building sets"?) — said guest feedback prompted the change: "We heard you, and we agree."

The changes are rolling out nationwide now, Snyder said, so guests can expect to see differences in certain sections throughout the next several months.

It's a bold move that will probably bode well for Target.

Parents are increasingly on the lookout for a more respectful approach to shopping for their children, according to industry expert Melissa Atkins Wardy.

Wardy, who created the apparel line Pigtail Pals & Ballcap Buddies in part to fight back against stereotypes often associated with children's clothing, applauded the retailer for being more gender-inclusive.

"There is no 'boy side' or 'girl side' to childhood," she told Upworthy, noting gender stereotypes can hinder a child's development by limiting their experiences. "Why would we tell a kid they can't like cars or pirates or fairies or pink? Go for it, kid."

Photo by Joe Corrigan/Getty Images for Disney.

Having talked to thousands of parents throughout the years on the topic of children's retail, she expects customers will be "thrilled" about the change.

Unfortunately, gender stereotyping is still the norm when it comes to toys.

Although Wardy acknowledged a shift in the way Americans view gender in regards to parenting, that shift hasn't necessarily been reflected in the toy industry's tactics, according to Elizabeth Sweet.

Sweet, who wrote for the The Atlantic in 2014 about her experiences researching toy advertising, explained how America has in many ways regressed when it comes to gender-stereotyped toys for children.

Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images.

"The princess role that's ubiquitous in girls' toys today was exceedingly rare prior to the 1990s," Sweet wrote. "And the marketing of toys is more gendered now than even 50 years ago, when gender discrimination and sexism were the norm."

That's why the move by Target — America's fourth-largest retailer with millions of customers throughout the country — is a pretty big deal.

We have a long way to go, but Target's big announcement is a sign we're headed in the right direction.

"When the idea that 'kids are awesome little people' is mainstream and they are free to be as they please," Hardy said, "it will be a happy day."

This article originally appeared on 09.06.17


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