By Rachel Garlinghouse
Most moms are fans of Target, because everything about the place is pretty much magical — from the in-store Starbucks to the dollar section to the soy candles, organizational bins, and even (in my town, anyway) the wine. And now moms can get their glorious shop on even more with Target’s children’s brand, Cat & Jack.
Target, which launched Cat & Jack last summer, recently unveiled the new t-shirt designs for spring, featuring captivating graphics and catchy phrases. And while graphic tees aren’t exactly a new trend, what’s refreshing about the Cat & Jack t-shirt designs are the messages they send to kids. Poke through the racks at Target, and you’ll spot the difference quickly: The glitter and rainbows and princess themes are nowhere in sight. And you won’t find stacks upon stacks of the “boys rule, girls drool” or “I like dirt” tees for boys, either.
Instead, some of the latest Cat & Jack designs are straight-up empowering. And there’s one in particular that’s catching a lot of attention for a pretty awesome reason. Printed on the front of one boys’ tee are just three words: Strong Like Mom.
Make no mistake, that’s pretty significant.
In the past, if I saw a tee complimenting my kid in any way, chances are it was complimenting their looks (calling girls “pretty” and boys “handsome”). And typically, any comparisons to Mom or Dad were paired by gender (girls were “pretty” like Mommy, and boys were “handsome” like Daddy). When there were tees for fathers and daughters, the tee’s phrase would declare something like “my heart belongs to Daddy,” which hints at stereotypical femininity and implies that every girl needs a male hero to rescue and complete her. Likewise, the tees available for my son often bragged about his looks, reading “chicks dig me” or “little heartbreaker.”
These always bothered me, as if they were saying that my son — at just 4-years-old — is some kind of budding womanizer and not, in fact, a little boy who enjoys cuddling his new baby sister, riding his bike, and playing firefighter.
But it’s clear that with Cat & Jack, Target would like to help put an end to all that. Among other designs from the collection, consumers will find shirts speaking to technology, astronomy, friendship, music, and art. There are also the tees sharing positive and kind messages and pushing back on bullying — like the “Love Out Loud” shirt. Other confidence-boosting tees don phrases like “Smart and Strong,” “My Future is Bright,” and “Change the World by Being You.” Of course, there are still some of the themes we’ve always loved, such as video gaming, sports, and animals, but they are updated and present in both the girls’ and boys’ departments.
As the mother of a four children, I greatly appreciate that Target is stepping up their game and creating more options for all our kids. One of my daughters loves basketball, and for several years we could only find basketball graphic tees for her in the boys’ department. The girls’ department only offered shirts displaying gymnastics, dance, and cheer, and of course, the shirts were only available in shades of pink — her least favorite color.
Target’s stepping it up in more ways, too, creating knee-length shorts for girls (made of super-soft denim) that are comfortable and practical for playtime. Additionally, their t-shirt options now come in a variety of colors — not just pink and purple for girls and blue and green for boys. My second daughter, whose favorite color is green, now has more options than ever, and she couldn’t be more psyched about it.
The brand has a broad range of sizes, too, fitting newborns up to size XL for big kids, and offers shoes, socks, underwear, sportswear, pajamas, gloves, and hats, in addition to everyday clothing. But the best part? All Cat & Jack clothing comes with a promise, written prominently on each product page: “Cat & Jack is made to last, but if anything doesn’t, you can return it up to 1 year later with your receipt.”
So moms, it looks like you just got one more reason to order your latte, grab a cart, and enjoy all the guilt-free Target shopping you can handle. (Not that you really needed one.)