Mother’s Day is just around the corner, and you know what that means, right? My inbox runneth over with “What Mom Really Wants” type emails. I expected to get smelly coupons from Bath & Body Works – I mean, come on, Mother’s Day is that places bread and butter – and fancy jewelry deals from Macy’s, but I thought Target was more progressive than that. I had hoped they wouldn’t fall into the marketing tropes of the holiday. Today, I was sadly proven wrong.
Upon opening what I thought was a normal advertisement email in Gmail, I quickly realized I had actually stepped into a time machine and had been transported to the 1950s! Oh wait, sorry. I just have a vivid imagination and a penchant for sci-fi. I hadn’t been hurled through time and space at all (bummer). I just was on the receiving end of a dated, sexist marketing ploy. At first glance, it may just seem like your standard, semi-quirky Target ad, but if you look a little closer, you can see the not-so-subtle, antiquated message Target is sending about moms:
Thanks to my super high-tech MS Paint skills, I’ve saved you the time of playing “I Spy” and highlighted the areas in question. So let’s do a little run down.
- “Hint, Hint” – To me, this sounds like the typical “Wait, Mother’s Day is WHEN?” joke. It’s like they’re saying, “Hey, we know it’s super easy to forget about your mother and buying presents for her is like solving a Rubik’s Cube blindfolded, so here’s a big ol’ hint to help you out!”
- “KitchenAid appliances” – Really? KITCHEN APPLIANCES? And a cute picture of an adorably pastel mixer with Pinterest-worthy brownies next to it? Really?
- “Other things Mom would love” – You know, in case she already has a mixer or you just don’t feel like dropping a couple hundred on a present for a holiday you probably forgot about (see point number 1).
- “List” – So many options! Well, not really. There are a lot options within a very narrow scope. Target probably figured that Bath & Body Works already has a monopoly on all things bath and body (hence the appropriate store name). So they just stuck with the only things mom do or are supposed to like: Anything to do with homemaking (cooking, kitchen appliances, tidy linens) and decorating.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t like any of the things that have been marketed towards me for Mother’s Day. Due to injuries from a seizure, I can’t smell, so I’m not big on things like candles, perfume, and body lotion. I also don’t care about jewelry. Heck, my engagement ring doesn’t even have a diamond (it’s citrine, in case you’re wondering) because I’m not big on flash. I’ve also been banned from the kitchen after setting bananas on fire in the stove when I was 12.
What do I want for Mother’s Day? I won’t even say the equally cliché “I want to eat food while it’s hot and have some peace and quiet” thing. I honestly just want the Battlestar Galactica boxset, or a gift card to Taco Bell. So where are my emails for deals on that? I may not be typical, and I’m not saying it’s wrong to like conventional mom-like things. What I am saying is this: We need to retire “Mom-the-Caricature” and instead celebrate “Mom-the-Complex-and-Well-Rounded-Person.”
Who’s with me? I’m looking at you, Target.
Sarah Bunton is a mother, feminist, animal rights activist, and a strong supporter of the LGBTQ community. She holds a BA in Religious Studies from Stetson University and works as a cognitive skills trainer with children facing developmental challenges. In between balancing a chronic illness, work, and a feisty toddler, she loves to share her experiences with others. You can find more of her writings on her blog, Bump Birth and Beyond!