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Beauty Comes Before Bravery for Target Girls

Illustration for article titled Beauty Comes Before Bravery for Target Girls

Pixar's upcoming movie, Brave, is the studio's first film with a female lead: Merida, a "skilled archer" who is "determined to carve her own path in life" even though she's a princess in an ancient Scottish Kingdom. Awesome, right? Target thinks so, too; the store already has a ton of Brave merchandise for little girls who want to look just like Merida.


But check out how they're marketing "Merida's Dress," modeled in Target's catalog by a strong-willed child wielding a bow and arrow: "Look pretty and be brave, too."

Illustration for article titled Beauty Comes Before Bravery for Target Girls

Are those few words of copy worth fretting over? Probably not; we believe in picking our battles with this stuff. But it's definitely worth pointing this out as a pretty good example of how marketers are unwilling — or perhaps just unsure how — to market to girls (and women) without promising them they'll look great.

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Meh. I'm afraid people are going to get shitty with Katie for making a mountain out of a molehill, but I think it's worth looking at. As a moderately intelligent woman who is talented in certain areas, I constantly feel the conflicting message of "Be anything you want! You are smart and that's awesome! But for the love of god, ALSO BE PRETTY!" I've never gotten as much recognition for academic achievement as I have gotten for being thin, or for wearing a particularly flattering outfit. I think that the messages we send young girls haven't progressed from "you have to be beautiful to be valuable" to "you can be smart/funny/brave/etc." in the way we sometimes like to believe they have. It's now just "be whatever you want but pretty is still super important." If anything the stakes are even higher now, because it's not enough to be only pretty, but you can't be only smart or athletic or talented either. And try to imagine the situation with a reversal of gender. Has costume for boys ever been marketed in this way? Can you imagine a Hercules costume with the caption "you can be handsome and heroic!"?