Target’s 2023 Pride collection has finally launched and the usual onslaught of memes mocking the clothing and merchandise is an unofficial annual countdown to Pride Month. But new this year is the surprise from LGBTQ shoppers when they found out that Target’s Pride collection actually has some necessary, impressive additions.
For years, Target has been accused of “rainbow capitalism” — a term that describes profiting off the commodification of the LGBTQ community, especially in June. Target started launching the Pride collections in the mid-2010s, but the chain started facing backlash after its 2021 collection.
The following year, in 2022, Target actually hired LGBTQ artists to help design the apparel. But the accusations that Target was only an ally in June when it was profitable to be, continued to rage on social media.
But the cheesiness has almost worked in Target’s favor. The Pride merchandise has become so cringe for social media users, that now it’s considered camp.
This year specifically, screenshots of a Target shirt with “Live Laugh Lesbians” has made the rounds on various platforms. Users made fun of the brand’s “Gender Euphoria” candle, a welcome mat that reads “Gayest Place in Town” and a drag queen bird decorative figurine.
I am torn between thinking the Target Pride collection "Live Laugh Lesbian" shirt is either the best or the worst shirt ever. I don't think there is a middle ground. pic.twitter.com/KTXahZueg8
— Chiffon Dior (@ChiffonDior) May 18, 2023
losing my mind over this piece of clothing from target's pride collection pic.twitter.com/yZuweDzKCN
— matty (@madddddys) May 1, 2023
But a significant turning point in the perception of Target handling its Pride collection was the launch of the chain’s tucking inclusive swimsuit bottoms. Tucking offers transgender or nonbinary people the option of creating a flat appearance in the groin area.
Members of the transgender and nonbinary community have been open in the past about how vulnerable it feels to not be heteronormative and stripped down in a public place like the beach or a pool.
“I think there’s a lot of anxiety around it, and that anxiety is grounded in reality,” Sonny Oram, the founder of Qwear, told Mashable in 2017. “When you’re trans, it’s hard to be stealth wearing swimwear. … Even if you try and cover up, you’re drawing attention to yourself.”
In 2017, there were barely any independent designers working on swimsuit collections that catered to transgender and nonbinary shoppers. Typically, transgender and nonbinary people adapted to using a combination of items — tank tops, board shorts, athletic gear — to help them feel more comfortable at the beach.
“Traditional swimwear is unavoidably concerned with anatomy, and as such it often adheres to and emphasizes a deeply flawed notion of the gender binary,” Hannah Schnieder wrote for Refinery29 in 2020. “A femme AMAB [assigned male at birth] person might want a more feminine suit, but the clothing cut on the bottom needs to have more room for it to fit them comfortably.”
But now a store as mainstream as Target is finally selling what they need.
target has tucking inclusive bikini bottoms in their pride collection this year and I almost cried trying them on in the fitting room pic.twitter.com/4hJHVv6JTO
— soup (@hannahxsoup) May 15, 2023
listen target’s designs aren’t 100% perfect but my god they have binders they have tucking options they try so hard to be inclusive and i am not going to let people try to ruin it for us
— lune (@lovpillar) May 16, 2023
This suit isn’t designed to “hide a gender”.
It’s designed to fit wider labias and accomodate tucking, the latter of which doesn’t even have to be gender identity related.
Some conservatives, however, have called for boycotts of Target — even specifically calling for the company to get the “Bud Light treatment,” referencing Anheuser-Busch sending transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney some Bud Lights only to face two months of backlash.
Boycotts, studies have found, do not tend to actually work in “punishing” a brand.
“Even if a boycott stays in the news, strong opinions are not the same as action. It’s always easier for someone to express outrage than inconvenience him or herself,” Americus Reed wrote for the New York Times. “Companies may suffer short sales dips, but social media boycotts seldom hurt the business bottom line of organizations in the long run.”
Violence against transgender and gender nonconforming people in the U.S. continues, as the Human Rights Campaign reports that 11 people have been killed so far in 2023 for their identities. To have a major chain like Target sell more inclusive clothing, during and outside of Pride Month, is hopefully a step in the right direction to eliminate the growing anti-trans sentiment in the United States.
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