When one employee saw these onesies, he almost lost it. Here's how the store responded.

At first glance, it's just a photo of two baby onesies. But when you take a closer look, you'll see why one employee wanted them taken off the shelves.

Jason works at NYU. While browsing the campus bookstore, he came across some disturbing baby gear.

As one is inclined to do in the age of social media, he snapped a photo and uploaded it to his Facebook page:



"I had a very difficult time not raging out about this in the college store. These are onesies ... for infants ... guess which one is for girls and which one is for boys. THIS is the problem."
— Jason Y. Evans

First things first: I'm not too keen on gendered toys, clothes, and products. More often than not, products geared toward women/girls are limited to "girly" shades like pink and purple, are needlessly more expensive, and, in this instance, reinforce negative ideas about body image and sexuality.

You might be thinking, "There's no way a baby could be influenced by what's written on its clothing." And unless there's a new crop of infants who are hooked on phonics before their first birthday, you're correct. But the issue here isn't just the onesies. The problem is the culture that thinks it's OK to encourage body shaming at any age. While "I hate my thighs" is no doubt a joke, consider how many women and girls struggle with disordered eating and how often women and girls are shamed for being too thin, too fat, too sexy, or not sexy enough. In reality, there's no reason to promote body shaming for anyone, no matter their age or gender.



When the post went viral, strangers, students, and alumni chimed in.

I was shocked when I stumbled across the post in my Facebook feed, but I was pleasantly surprised by what was happening in the comments. People weren't just getting mad, they were springing into action. And New York University alumni were demanding the school do better.

"It seems to have made it full circle to the NYU Bookstore ... but not before a few people made phone calls. It's also refreshing to see that I'm not the only one outraged by this kind of thing. #thereishope #whyineedfeminism"
— Jason Y. Evans

Turns out social media can actually do some good.

The NYU Bookstore responded almost instantly, pulling the "I hate my thighs" onesies off the sales floor. Commenters rushed to congratulate and thank Jason for sharing the photo.




"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."
— Margaret Mead

For all the nastiness and disappointing interactions that happen on social media every day, this story has a happy ending we could all use. It's impressive to see people using platforms like Facebook to start important conversations and create real change. It might seem like only a tiny step, but it's important that as consumers and parents we're vigilant about counteracting the negative and one-diminutional messages on gender and body image.

Kudos to Jason for having the guts to speak up and to the NYU Bookstore for being willing to listen.

Family

Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

RELATED: This fascinating comic explains why we shouldn't use some Native American designs.

Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

RELATED: This aboriginal Australian used kindness and tea to trump the racism he overheard.

Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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