Kristen Harris, Staff Writer

When it comes to the gender neutral debate, my opinion is pretty neutral. By this statement, I do not mean that I simply do not care. Rather, I can see the argument from both sides. Allow me to explain.

Target made waves last August when it announced its decision to remove gender-based signs from its toys and children’s home decor sections.

The store made this move in response to the controversy created by a single tweet in which a mother shamed Target for its use of distinct signs for “building sets” and “girls’ building sets.”

After the picture of this sign circulated the Internet, Target extinguished the fire it came under with a brand-new battle plan. The store would work towards a more gender-neutral children’s section.

Though many rallied around Target in support of these decisions, still others created a controversy of their own. Those clinging to gender norms have criticized the company for the groundwork it’s laying in the still-small area of gender-neutral options for children.

Of course, I can understand where these views come from. I grew up surrounded by everything Disney princess, and I don’t think another little girl should be deprived of that option in the name of gender neutrality.However, I also grew up playing with plastic dinosaurs.

That same little girl playing with her Disney princess dolls should also be free to get just as excited about her dinosaurs, Legos or Hot Wheels. In my opinion, the real controversy seems to be in young boys being allowed to play with toys that have been traditionally reserved for girls.

When it comes down to it, though, all children, boys or girls, are only limited by their imaginations.

Who are we to limit them in their creativity?

So far, Target has removed gender-based signs and colors from its toys section.

The company’s next move is the release of a gender-neutral children’s home goods line.

Pillowfort, which was released on Feb. 21, will replace Target’s current in-house children’s brand Circo.

The new collection features prints ranging from cupcakes and pastel hearts to sharks and tropical birds.

I must say, looking at Target’s new kids collection online, I’m impressed.

Each pattern, no matter where it falls on the traditional gender scale, is tastefully designed. Nothing is so obnoxiously pink or ostentatiously monster truck that it seems forced.

Gray Aztec patterns bring life to a teepee-style bed tent. Sharks as blue as the sea itself swim across a pillowcase. A pastel bird brings light in the form of a bedside lamp. An astronaut suit comforter is crowned by a matching helmet pillowcase.

Still more bedding sets promise to transform a child’s bedroom into the desert or the tropics. The brown, orange and blue dinosaur set is  definitely more than  enough to make my inner five-year-old leap for joy.

Target’s new Pillowfort line accomplishes its goal of gender neutrality in a beautifully aesthetic manner.  Target is at the forefront of the battle for gender-neutrality.

The strides the company has already made are paving the way for a new kind of childhood experience where the only limits are set by young imaginations company seems to be right on target.


Photo courtesy of Mike Mozart via Creative Commons