Gymboree is a well-known retailer for kids’ clothing. They’ve got it all, and it’s a popular stop for many parents looking to outfit their kids for the new season.
However, this year, one parent saw something that she found particularly disturbing.
Last Thursday, Sophie Cohen was watching television with her husband while looking for holiday dresses online for their 2- and 3-year-old daughters. When she clicked over to Gymboree’s website, she paused on the dress in question, which was on sale for $26.97. “I was like, what is wrong with this dress?” Cohen, who lives in Owings Mills, Maryland, told Newsweek. “This image flashed in my mind of the Jewish star patches that people wore in the Holocaust. I was like, I know this is supposed to be a snowflake, but it isn’t. It’s red. Snowflakes aren’t red! The placement of it didn’t sit right with me. The resemblance!”
She posted a screenshot on Facebook alongside a black-and-white photo of a Jewish family wearing Star of David badges on their chests. She wrote in her post: “I don’t consider myself to be someone who is easily offended but I was looking at the Gymboree website looking for holiday dresses for my kids and ran across this dress. I suddenly got a pit in my stomach. I think this image speaks for itself. #neverforget #notok.”
The next morning, Cohen called Gymboree’s customer service, and a representative suggested she email the company. She did, and soon after, the dress was pulled off the website. “But I never got a response from the company at all. I never got a phone call or email back,” said Cohen, a stay-at-home mom who used to work in human resources at a corporate financial company. “Today, we like to assume racism and prejudice doesn’t exist anymore, but sometimes they’re sugar-coated—in children’s clothes. The Holocaust isn’t some random little factoid. My kids happen to go a Jewish Day School, but we’re extremely reformed. I can’t imagine seeing a child in that dress.”
Now, I’ll admit that my first thought was, “Ugh. That’s absolutely tasteless.” However, after looking at the dress a bit more carefully, I’m now left wondering if the snowflake on the dress isn’t the only snowflake in this mess.
While the low-resolution photograph does blur the details of the dress a bit, it’s not difficult to see various “points” jutting out from the star-like shape, much like a snowflake. In person and in higher-resolution photographs, any similarity to the Star of David worn by Jews under the Nazi regime may well disappear.
I don’t consider myself to be someone who is easily offended but I was looking at the Gymboree website looking for…
“But it’s red!”
So? The dress itself was a black and white plaid pattern, meaning some kind of color would need to be used to make the star stand out. The designer went with red. It could have easily been green, or blue, or anything else, but it needed to be a color that would stand out against the background. That means white was probably not a choice.
And, thankfully, they didn’t use yellow.
Look, there have been some tasteless choices made regarding fashion. The article points out a shirt I remember pretty well on which a yellow, six-pointed star had the word “Sheriff” written inside. It was not a good choice, though I can also see how someone would miss how that could be an issue. That doesn’t mean it was a particularly great idea.
In this case, I’m just not sure this one falls into that category. If so, we need to immediately ban the use of all six-pointed shapes on the left breast of anyone’s clothing, ever. After all, someone might get ideas.