Sexist 'Girls Not Allowed' Clothing Ad Is Pissing Parents Off

benneton ad
benneton/Instagram

You've heard the saying, a photo is worth a thousand words? The folks running social media for the United Colors of Benetton are probably wishing they'd let the photo of three little boys that they posted to Instagram recently do all the talking. The image shows the little boys with their arms wrapped around each other, a perfect picture of friendship/promotion for the brand's colorful line of shorts for kids. But the caption beside it has the Internet hot and bothered over some not-so subtle sexism. 

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"Girls not allowed!" the caption screams (seriously, they added an exclamation mark on this one).

benetton girls not allowed
benetton/Instagram

While plenty of brands like Princess Awesome or Svaha are working to make their clothes more inclusive, Benetton seems perfectly fine with sending the message that parents (and kids) should be sticking to one very specific side of the store and that wearing the "other" type of clothing is somehow wrong. That kids really don't realize which gender clothes were originally made for -- until the marketers show up -- doesn't seem to have crossed their minds.

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People are looking at Benetton's shorts ad this week, and they're sounding off about the toxic masculinity in both the photo and the caption.

benetton shorts instagram
twohippiesandapig/Instagram


belcolt/Instagram

benetton instagram comment
chelsdelaney/Instagram

And it's not just about the shorts. It's also about the subtle sexism implied in the caption itself. The person who wrote the caption surely thought it was cute and innocent -- maybe they had the Lil' Rascals and their He Man Woman Haters club in mind. Maybe you're nodding along thinking hey, "no girls allowed" is something every little boy says at some point.

See, the problem isn't three little boys gathering together, deciding girls have cooties and telling them to buzz off. That's fairly normal behavior. The problem is that we, as a society, encourage this sort of exclusionary behavior. We pat boys on the back and tell them it's cute, instead of sitting them down for a gentle discussion on why it's not okay to be mean to other kids, certainly not mean to someone because of her gender. 

The problem is further compounded when we let these "boys will be boys" attitudes leak out beyond the playground, and allow them to become accepted societal mores that dictate how girls should think, behave, and, yes, dress.

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The company's responded to the brouhaha with assurances that its shorts are also for girls.

benetton shorts response
benetton/Instagram

Indeed it does sell a Bermuda short for girls that's fairly similar to the pair sported by the boys above ... and surprisingly cheaper at $12.50, compared to $24.50 for the "boy" version. If only it'd focused on inclusion rather than exclusion among kids, people might be more inclined to talk about summer clothes instead of sexism.

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