TikTokers again this year rated Target’s pride merchandise, which prominently featured queer artists.
Target’s collection included things like astrology and being a “plant parent,” and came after criticism for its 2021 collection.
One expert told Insider he would have preferred to see more appeal for LGBTQ people of color.
Target showcased the LGBTQ artists it collaborated with on its 2022 Pride merchandise, and the reviews for the collection are in — from TikTok, naturally.
Creator Samantha Cherie, who gave a relatively mixed review to TikTok’s Pride collection in 2021, seemed pleasantly surprised at this year’s collection.
“I feel like they actually hired gay people this year to design the merch,” Cherie said, commenting on a much-lauded t-shirt from the collection that says, “Busy thinking about girls.”
Another creator, Madison Rodriguez, posted that her lesbian mom mom had “freaked out,” seeing that shirt in the store.
(The shirt appears to be a nod Charlie XCX’s song “Boys,” and subsequent covers that changed the “boys” to “girls.”)
Target did actually hire LGBTQ people this year to design what looks like much of the merchandise, including artists to queer-owned brands TomboyX and Humankind, according to the landing page.
The TikToking reviewers seemed to appreciate that this year’s collection includes queer culture overlaps such as being a “plant parent,” enjoying iced coffee, and astrology.
The merchandise collection also features a binder-like “compression top,” from TomboyX that Cherie noted (in another video) could be subtle enough for trans youth to wear without necessarily coming out to parents.
The clothes also have gender-neutral sizing, (“adult general sizing”) as another TikToker pointed out.
Several creators and users further noted a shirt with finger guns on with the colors of the bisexual pride flag.
It is a bisexual stereotype or joke that “we also never know what to do with our hands (enter finger guns and peace signs),” as Rebecca Willems wrote in Peaceful Dumpling.
Other big hits with the TikTokers were a shirt that says “Move, I’m Gay” (a common Pride month meme) and rainbow color blocked swim trunks from Humankind that said “cheers queers.”
‘They took the bullying last year to heart.’
This wave of discussion comes after the company received criticism about its 2021 collection.
One writer called last year’s assortment “foul” in F Newsmagazine, criticizing it for being unpleasant to look at and “reflect[ing] just how poorly and shallowly major corporations view the LGBTQ+ community.”
“They took the bullying from last year to heart,” said Kris, a TikToker, who walked around in a physical Target and complemented several of this year’s products.
Many of the TikTokers still had various issues with this year’s collection.
Many focused on “Rainbow capitalism,” a term that refers to companies using proximity to LGBTQ people for social clout while potentially working against it behind the scenes (and, in this context, companies participating in LGBTQ culture in general).
One expert noted that this year’s merchandise drop isn’t above feedback, either.
“I don’t think it has the style of queers of color,” said Byron Craig, assistant professor at Illinois State University.
Besides a few products, the merchandise, didn’t quite have the same aesthetic appeal and connection for him as a Black member of the LGBTQ community, added Craig, who studies and teaches race and rhetoric and citizenship as well serves as the co-president of ISU’s Queer Coalition.
“Oftentimes, we hear these voices that aren’t representative of the entire queer community. And that’s the problem I have with these TikToks,” he said.
At least three of the collection’s designers are Black and queer, per Target’s landing page. Craig said his feeling could also be due to generational differences on his end — and to a larger issue of one type of voice (ie, potentially young Black queer people) being held up as representing everyone from a certain group.
Target is supporting GLSEN, an LGBTQ education nonprofit, again this year, among other groups, the company told Insider. It did not respond to a follow-up about the collection’s appeal to LGBTQ people of color.
Aside from Target specifically, too many diversity and inclusion efforts in the corporate world are a “performance,” Craig said.
“Visibility without action is a problem,” he added.
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