Artists are questioning the creativity (and biases) of Old Navy's design team.
— Dance Judge (@DanceJudgeProbs) December 29, 2015
Mother and professional artist Kelly McKernan posted a photo of two Old Navy toddler shirts to Facebook on Tuesday. The shirts were each emblazoned with the slogan, "Young Aspiring Artist," but the word "Artist" was crossed out and replaced with "Astronaut" or "President."
McKernan asserted that the shirts promoted an anti-art mentality in children, and chastised Old Navy for approving the design.
Dear Old Navy, this is deeply disappointing. As a mother and a career artist, I'm astounded that a company as large and...
"This is deeply disappointing," McKernan wrote in the photo caption. "As a mother and a career artist, I'm astounded that a company as large and influential as you are could approve of a design that encourages toddlers to stifle their creativity."
Other commenters agreed, noting how the shirt seemingly looks down upon artistic professions.
The company RAYGUNshirts even designed their own T-shirt as a comeback.
How could we not make this? Available online and in DSM now! IC and KC tomorrow! http://www.raygunsite.com/collections/kids-products/products/young-aspiring-artist
The not-so-subtle feedback was received by the company loud and clear — and Old Navy says that it plans to discontinue the shirt and remove the clothing item from stores.
Debbie Felix, a spokesperson for Old Navy, said in a statement:
At Old Navy we take our responsibility to our customers seriously. We would never intentionally offend anyone, and we are sorry if that has been the case. Our toddler tees come in a variety of designs including tees that feature ballerinas, unicorns, trucks and dinosaurs and include phrases like, "Free Spirit." They are meant to appeal to a wide range of aspirations. With this particular tee, as a result of customer feedback, we have decided to discontinue the design and will work to remove the item from our stores.
Regardless of which side of the debate you're on, it seems like the best option might just be to not designate or sort a young child into any career path before they can actually form full sentences.
Additional reporting by Lifestyle Editor Stephanie Buck.