That Sexist Macy's Parade

Do you watch the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade? What’s your favorite part? The corny commentators? The baton twirlers? The teeny-bop music?

Or ... all those giant sexist balloons?

You see, Mr. Potato Head isn’t just a fun character and an amusing part of the traditional holiday festivity. He’s an inflatable symbol of the oppression of little girls everywhere.

On November 10 of this year, Lynnette Long, president of Equal Visibility Everywhere—a not-for-profit charmingly acronymed EVE—published a blog on the astounding under-representation of female characters among the Macy’s parade balloons. For a few key feminists, despite the holiday, it was a call to action.

In the 84-year, 129-character history of the parade, only 10 female characters have ever sailed down the avenues. “Parade balloons are not a trivial issue,” said Long. “Every year millions of young girls eagerly attend Macy’s and other parades, only to look up and see nothing but male characters float by.” Long concluded with a latent call for action: “Hopefully, one day, the parade skies of the United States will be filled with an equal number of male and female characters.”

To which I say ... really? This is what we’ve come to? Counting floating balloon characters to make sure it all comes out even? Because little girls will feel put down and left out if there aren’t an equal number of male and female giant balloons in the Macy’s parade?

As the linked article suggests, the balloon characters reflect what’s currently popular in kids’ entertainment, so this is more about a lack of female characters marketed to children than it is about Macy’s discriminating against our daughters.

We watched some of the parade here, and I must admit that I did not notice a lack of female balloon characters. Of greater concern to me was the giant billboard advertisement featuring a woman wearing only a bra that made up the background for many of the camera shots. I don’t like the message that kind of sexual imagery sends to my kids.

But I suppose I am the only feminist blogging about that affront to our daughters today.