A popular diaper company dispelled claims Monday that only its girls training pants were scented after a social media post by an Ottawa mom caused an online stir about gender shaping.
But the outcry — and company's response that both boy's and girl's training pants are perfumed — have left some parents wondering why training pants are scented and gendered at all.
It started when mom and fitness consultant Sophie Smith-Doré wrote on Twitter that she got an unpleasant surprise when she opened a box of disposable training pants for her daughter: a pleasant scent.
"If you think gender shaping/social conditioning isn't a thing I want you know that boy pullup training pants smell like nothing and girl pullup training pants are perfumed. I wish I was kidding," Smith-Doré wrote on Twitter Sunday.
If you think gender shaping/social conditioning isn't a thing I want you know that boy pullup training pants smell like nothing and girl pullup training pants are perfumed.— Sophie Smith-Doré (@muscleboundmama) July 15, 2018
I wish I was kidding.
Pampers Easy Ups Training Underwear — the brand Smith-Doré was referring to, she wrote — come in two styles: one featuring a "Thomas the Tank Engine" print (with a boy on the blue packaging), and one featuring a "Hello Kitty" print (with a girl on the pink packaging). The products are meant for toddlers who are potty training.
Both styles are scented and can be worn by both boys and girls, Proctor & Gamble Baby Care Communications spokesperson Laura Dressman confirmed in an email to HuffPost Canada.
"All Pampers Easy Ups versions are lightly scented as stated on the package," Dressman said.
"Also, we reduced the amount of scent in January this year and it is possible this consumer may have purchased the previous version. Easy Ups are designed to meet boys' and girls' needs and both can wear either Hello Kitty or Thomas the Engine to help make potty training fun."
Pampers adds a "soft, baby-fresh scent" to all of its diapers because that's what parents have told the company they want, Pampers — a P&G Canada brand — writes on its website.
"We've asked parents all around the world which products they prefer for their babies and they've told us they prefer diapers with a soft, baby-fresh scent. The perfumes are used at a very low level in each diaper and have been carefully selected and evaluated to be non-irritating to the skin, nor cause skin allergy or sensitization," Pampers said.
While the responses to Smith-Doré's tweet fizzled from the initial outrage as it unfolded that both styles of Pampers were scented, most parents could agree that scent and gendered-marketing on products for toddlers are a problem.
It's bonkers. Diapers aren't gender specific so why are pull-ups? I have boy-girl twins so I bought both. Sometimes my son wore pink ones and vice versa. I let them pick.— Amber Yates (@sicklecelldoc) July 16, 2018
This is super weird. We only have one pack of hello kitty because they were a hindrance and not a help to training.— Bad Mommy (@abMOMination) July 16, 2018
I'm glad to hear they are all scented but...is scent required? Really?
Girls don't need fragrance anywhere near their genitals.— Anastasia Lee (@anastasialie83) July 15, 2018
Whoa, what?! We've only ever bought boys.— Jaclyn (@jaclyn613) July 15, 2018
I was annoyed enough at the colour and pattern options being very gendered.
That's just downright bad.
I just assumed all diapers had that "baby" smell....— Adventuresome (@levacas) July 15, 2018
I wanted to get Elsie the Thomas pullups but I thought that maybe they had a different design bc yknow...penis.
WHAT????? I've only every bought boys so I wouldn't know. I was pissed enough with the stupid blue designs. https://t.co/ygssa2rjwV— Jennifer Gunter (@DrJenGunter) July 15, 2018
Dr. Jennifer Gunter, an OB-GYN known for debunking women's health myths and who hails from Winnipeg, tweeted that the gendered designs were bad enough.
"WHAT????? I've only every bought boys so I wouldn't know. I was pissed enough with the stupid blue designs," she said.
Gunter has previously spoken out about scented feminine products, including vanilla-scented oral sex underwear for women, and vaginal hygiene wipes recently touted in Teen Vogue's tips for your "summer vagina."
@Pampers : Canada also wants neutral gender, UNSCENTED pullups.— Sophie Smith-Doré (@muscleboundmama) July 16, 2018
Parents want unscented, gender-neutral training pants, Smith-Doré wrote as a followup to her original tweet, adding that her daughter often prefers the "boys" style. Huggies brand training pants are also marketed to boys (with a "Cars," Mickey Mouse or "Toy Story" design) and girls (with a Minnie Mouse or princess design).
There has been a recent outcry over gendered marketing to kids, with experts stating that marketing clothes, toys and other items to "boys" or "girls" reinforces harmful stereotypes.
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