There has been a story circulating the Internet about an amazing twelve-year-old girl who penned an open letter to Dick’s Sporting Goods about their latest magazine. As she was flipping through the magazine she noticed that there were NO girl models. A young basketball player herself she felt that this was not fair. She wanted to see herself reflected in their catalogue. Who can blame her?
After a few days Dick’s released a statement apologizing for the indiscretion, vowing to make a change in the future. When I read the response from Dick’s I was elated, what a victory for this girl. Then the CEO responded:
But then I did something I knew I should not. I read the comments. Not only that but I kept reading the comments. I just could not stop.
The hatred and disgust at what I saw as a victory was incredible. As quickly as I felt excitement for this victory I felt frustration at the response. I wanted to write a post celebrating this girl but I kept thinking about what people were saying about her. Cutting at her bravery and courage.
What are these people afraid? Why does a 12-year-old asking for some pictures of ladies in a magazine make people so outraged? Why were so many people claiming we are all just too sensitive this day in age, exhausted by demands for being political correct. Soon, many said, there will be requests for people in wheelchairs, people of color, or other minority categories to be in the magazine. As if this would be the demise of human existence as we know it.
Privilege and power. I imagine many of those making comments wondering to themselves, “if 12-year-old girls can make change WHO ELSE CAN GET POWER”?
To have a more inclusive representation in magazines like Dick’s we have to acknowledge these people (basically anyone who is not a White male according to the comments) can exist in those spaces. And for many that is a frightening thought.
Cue the claims for too much sensitivity and being unnecessarily politically correct. Being politically correct, or PC, is, “the attitude or policy of being careful not to offend or upset any group of people in society who are believed to have a disadvantage”.
What I do not understand is how the idea of being PC is so laughable, so scary, and so daunting. To me this notion seems like common sense. Being considerate of other people is not being too sensitive.
It is being a human being that cares about the well-being of other human beings.
People need to see themselves reflected in media – movies, television, music, in sports and in jobs. When you see yourself reflected in a position you want you can imagine yourself there. McKenna needs to see herself as a basketball player. All children deserve that. All adults deserve that.
Asking for more women in Dick’s magazine is not being politically correct or whining or whatever other nonsense some of the comments had in it. I am proud of McKenna Peterson for her courage and her willingness to speak up. And do not let people afraid of change get in your way. I love McKenna’s father for encouraging her to voice her opinion and sharing it with the world. I appreciate Dick’s Sporting Good’s response and their vow to do better in the future. At twelve years old McKenna is a role model for all of us that seek to make change. And to all those who responded to this story in nasty hurtful ways I hope you someday see the value in an act like McKenna’s. Keep it up girl.