Retailer Marks & Spencer is under fire for sexist labeling on a school uniform’s packaging. In what’s apparently supposed to be a cute joke, the brand brags that their reinforced hemlines are “hemsafe… hems stay up for longer, so that’s less work for mum.” The line ignores the fact that fathers, grandparents, siblings, neighbors, and presumably plenty of professional tailors are also capable of hemming children’s clothes (oh, and even the children themselves).
As HuffPost UK notes, Rebecca Collison first pointed out the wording on Twitter. Collision commented that the packaging was “Culturally stuck in a bygone era.”
— Rebecca Collison (@RE8ECCA_C) February 28, 2017
John Adams, who runs a UK-based pro-dad website, commented on the ordeal to HuffPost UK. “While probably no more than a simple oversight, such language ignores that fact almost 10% of single parent families are headed by men, that same-sex families have long been raising families in the UK and that stay-at-home dads are becoming more common,” he said. He nails the fact that careless wording is what keeps stigmas in place. While the brand may not have considered the comment more than a bit of fun, it’s these type of “jokes” that keep second-class citizens in their place.
The outcry has reached all the way up to Marks & Spencer, a UK-based chainstore, decision makers, who confirm that the package will be updated without the offending line. A spokesperson for the brand confirms that the Back to School 2017 package will read “Stay Put Hems: They’ll never fall down.”
“It was never our intention to offend parents,” the brand said in a statement. “In fact, we had already changed our packaging for the new range, which will be available from May.” At that point, it’s up to the families to decide who does the hemming.
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