Old Navy Father's Day T-shirt

This Old Navy Father’s Day T-shirt is Stupid

Sure, the clothing company is simply trying to be funny, but while one Father’s Day T-shirt hits just the right note, a graphic T claiming “It’s really HER day” is offensive to dads.

I’m not the type to offend all that easily. I don’t see wrong-doing everywhere. I try not to get too crazy about semantics. That’s just not my style. I’m sure they have high-quality t-shirt suppliers from companies similar to www.gblabels.co.uk that do not carry this kind of message though.

But as the editor of a site that’s all about modern family life, I find this Old Navy T-shirt so old-fashioned and stupid.

Old Navy Father's Day T-shirt it's her day

At a glance, the “graphic T” says “It’s Father’s Day.” But look again and you’ll see that it actually says “It’s really HER day.” That is all kinds of offensive to dads!

Yes, moms do a lot. On average we still do more childcare and housework, even though there’s more of us than ever in the workplace.

But we get Mother’s Day and, frankly, a lot of the credit for child-rearing. The message here is that dads are not as important, and that’s simply not true.

It’s also WAY out of step with the times.

According to Statistics Canada, stay-at-home fathers accounted for 11 percent of all Canadian families with a stay-at-home parent in 2014. That’s up from two per cent in 1976. The trend is the same or better in other parts of the world with similarly egalitarian approaches to parental leave.

You’d probably have to look to pre-industrial days to find a time when dads were anywhere near as hands-on as they are today. Our cultural expectation, at least among millennial and Gen-X parents, is that dads are equal or close-to-equal caregivers. Yes, much depends on who is working in or out of the house at a given time, but regardless, if dad is in the picture, he deserves his own damn Hallmark holiday!

To me this falls in the same category as all those mass media messages that portray dad as the bumbling stand-in parent. From Fred Flintstone to Homer Simpson to The Family Guy, pop culture has long been host to a raft of dopey dads.

Just look at movies like “Moms’ Night Out,” where, when the moms finally get a night off, the dads proceed to fuck everything up in truly epic fashion. As if!

Even movies that portray dad in a care-giving role (take “Daddy Daycare,” for example), start from the premise that dad is vastly under-qualfied at the start, and derive nearly 100 percent of their punchlines from same.

Television commercials are no better. Case in point, AskMen.com compiled this gallery of the 10-worst male-bashing ads.

While expressed with hyperbole in movies and television commercials, this T-shirt and the bumbling dad cliché are part of the same narrative that plays out when people ask if dad is BABYSITTING his own damn children. Would anyone ever ask a mom if she’s babysitting her kids? Absolutely never. I’ve chatted about this super annoying bit of small talk on this podcast episode with Mike Wallberg and this one with Tanel Jappinen. Both these dads, one Gen X, one millennial, have experienced that backhanded compliment, “Oh, it’s so nice of you to be giving your wife a day off!” The problem here is that it suggests that being out with your kids—at the park, at the bakery—is some sort of special outing, not just a matter of course. The parenting is in the everyday, and being acknowledged for doing that day-to-day work is what dads deserve on Father’s Day and any day of the year.

Sometimes, I’ve gotta say, the image of dad as the incompetent stand-in is perpetrated by moms. Countless times I’ve heard coffee klatches of moms talking about the extensive instructions they’ve left for their husbands in order to get out for the evening, or making fun of their partner for not knowing how to do X, Y or Z. I’m willing to bet that, 99 times out of 100, a concept called “maternal gatekeeping” is at play in these situations. Here’s how this goes. Baby comes along and both parents are freaked out about the enormous responsibility. But maybe mom has a little more experience with infants. Perhaps she babysat for the neighbours’ kids in high school or her bestie had a baby a year or two ago. So when her partner buttons the sleeper up the wrong way the first time, she takes over—hormonal (understandable) and huffy—in a manner that suggests baby will surely perish if his snaps aren’t done up correctly. Next few times, mom is the one who does the sleeper. Husband doesn’t get a chance to get comfortable. Mom establishes and learns baby’s bedtime routine and dad doesn’t. Mom never goes out for five years, humblebragging about it at song circle. But if she’s not solo parenting 100 percent of the time (because some people are and that’s a whole different thing), chances are, she’s brought this situation on herself, whether she wants to admit it or not.

That was a bit of a tangent, but if there wasn’t a pervasive cultural norm that suggests mom is the default primary parent, would there be a market for a Father’s Day T-shirt that still manages to give the credit to mom?

Old Navy Father's Day T-shirt

By contrast, this Father’s Day T-shirt, also by Old Navy, is sweet and cool. The dad looks hip and the message is awesome. This T-shirt suggests dad is often out on the town with the stroller, not occasionally babysitting. It’s too bad the company didn’t stop after putting this out as their Father’s Day offering. Instead, they come off looking backward and out-of-step with the times.

So what do you think? Am I being too touchy about this subject? If you agree the T-shirt is no good, how do you think the company should respond?

Please follow and like us:


Brandie Weikle

About Brandie Weikle

Brandie is a long-time parenting editor, writer and spokesperson. Most recently editor-in-chief of Canadian Family magazine, Brandie has also been the parenting and relationships editor for the Toronto Star, founding editor of two Toronto Star websites, and an editor for Today's Parent. Brandie is a single mother of two in Toronto and a frequent television and radio guest on parenting topics. A former digital director at House & Home Media, she also consults on digital audience engagement. Contact her here. View all posts by


'This Old Navy Father’s Day T-shirt is Stupid' have 19 comments

  1. Maureen Turner

    June 6, 2016 @ 3:49 pm Maureen Turner

    I’m still trying to wrap my head around the first shirt. Is that what it means? That it’s really her day because she rears the kids? Or is it HER day because women plan things for men on father’s day that they don’t really want to do? I don’t get it. It’s not funny, it’s not expressing anything that anyone actually feels, as far as I know. I can’t imagine who would buy this for their husband or their children’s father.

    Reply

    • June 12, 2016 @ 1:30 pm Sam

      I think the shirt is great. I mean, there’s a shirt for everybody. The “it’s her day” shirt just shows that Old Navy is thinking about the millions of women that have to deal w the deadbeat dads that end up not taking care of their kids, and the mothers end up having to do the job of a mom as well as the job of a dad. This is MY opinion, but “recognizing” all those mothers out there that have to serve as fathers too, is the best thing I’ve seen regarding fathers day in YEARS. Not everybody is lucky to have a “father”. Seems like the fatherless are forgotten by those “lucky” ones. #ThumbsUpOldNavy!!!! (For the record, I’m childless so I don’t have to deal w that crap, but I have seen plenty of relationships fail, where the father ends up “divorcing” his kids as well. Like it or not, It’s a sad reality of our world.

      Reply

      • Brandie Weikle

        June 13, 2016 @ 12:55 am Brandie Weikle

        Thanks for sharing your perspective on this, Sam. Really good points here.

        Reply

      • June 13, 2016 @ 10:31 pm Bob Roberts

        I’ll believe any of that nonsense when Old Navy sells a piece of clothing with a dismissive Mother’s Day phrase. The author nails the fact that men have continually been ignored as a necessary part of the parenting computation.

        This is yet another example of painting men as stupid, ignorant, and worthless when it comes to parenting, or life in general. Examples? See most of the commercials or print media–they’re all over.

        The family unit requires a father as well as a mother to function optimally. Engage the males, and perhaps there won’t be such a giant sucking sound of men opting out of marriage.

        Get it together Old Navy. And the rest of us should recognize how disposable men are being portrayed. Then do something about it. I’m voting with my wallet.

        Reply

      • June 14, 2016 @ 8:11 pm jdp

        Those women already have their day. It’s called Mother’s Day. They don’t need two days.

        Reply

      • June 15, 2016 @ 4:22 pm Malcolm N

        I would put to you however, that the most common cause of children being divorced as well, is women choosing to exclude the father from their lives.

        Reply

      • June 15, 2016 @ 6:54 pm Rand

        Most men do not “divorce” their children. They are forced out of their children’s lives due to vindictive mothers and a biased court system. When you start the race at a disadvantage, you’re more likely to give up. This T-shirt is an example of the systematic discrimination and bias that men experience in the family court system. A truly ignorant shirt and a truly ignorant comment.

        Reply

        • Brandie Weikle

          June 17, 2016 @ 1:47 pm Brandie Weikle

          Well, I’m not sure we have the data to conclude yet that women leave husbands more often than the reverse, but if I’m wrong about that I’d be happy to see that evidence. It sounds like you may have experienced parental alienation, which is terrible. That really sucks. We run a Facebook community called Positive Co-Parenting After Divorce and have some helpful articles on our Divorce Help page. I wrote this piece because I find it very disrespectful of the role of dads in our children’s lives and agree with you wholeheartedly that they deserve an equal opportunity to parent. And to be brought breakfast in bed, or given a Fruit Loop necklace or whatever other acknowledgements their children and partners desire. I hope you have a good Father’s Day despite what may be some challenging circumstances. Thanks so much for reading!

          Reply

      • June 17, 2016 @ 8:56 pm john

        It is a dad for recognizing all those dads who are dads, the ones who are there, the ones who can’t be there because of a legal system that does not support them. It is a day to celebrate, not to tarnish. Mothers, with partners, and mothers without partners get recognized for their contributions on a day designed for them…..Mothers day. Mothers day is not just for women living with a partner, it is for single mothers as well. There are fathers who are doing it all too, and doing it alone. They get recognized on Father’s day. This shirt is about creating a negative on a day that should be special.

        Reply

  2. June 6, 2016 @ 7:48 pm Jean hewson

    Love what you are saying here. Having a son who is a VERY full time dad to one child, and fully involved in the other two children’s lives even during there time at there mom’s house, I believe he needs to be celebrated. I see lots of dads who are very involved and I also agree with what you are saying about the moms who don’t let dad get involved! I spend time with many young moms and know that is a problem. Well written response!!!

    Reply

  3. June 7, 2016 @ 8:59 am Lee

    This is a fantastic article. You hit the nail on the head.

    Reply

  4. June 8, 2016 @ 10:27 am Jason Soroski

    Just found your blog today and am enjoying reading it! The shirt is just dumb. I suppose it is clever, but seriously; it isn’t good, and it never should have made it past the ‘funny idea’ stage in the creative room. @Soroski

    Reply

    • Brandie Weikle

      June 13, 2016 @ 12:56 am Brandie Weikle

      So glad you found us, Jason. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

      Reply

  5. June 10, 2016 @ 7:56 am Rayce Carrington

    It’s mostly women who shop at Blue Navy and they feel women will love this T shirt and they will sell lots of them, I can see allot of young women buying it for themselves and proudly wear them. This plays well with the feminist agenda to ban Father’s Day all together. Fathers will never get the credit they deserve for what they do for their kids in our society, it’s not politically correct to say good things about fathers.

    Reply

  6. June 12, 2016 @ 2:45 pm B

    Being a new mother this shirt really upsets me. My husband is an amazing parent and partner. He deserves to be celebrated! Yes a little bit more of the actual parenting duties fall on me right now because I’m breastfeeding and work part time but I consider working full time as a parenting duty as well since we need money for food, diapers and clothing.
    I also don’t get the shirt. How is it her day?

    Reply

  7. June 13, 2016 @ 6:00 am This Old Navy Father’s Day T-Shirt Is Confusing « Q104 Cleveland

    […] thenewfamily.com […]

    Reply

  8. June 14, 2016 @ 10:18 pm Heather

    I would only find this shirt cute if it was worn by a dad who was with his daughter indicating that it is really about her, his daughter.

    Reply

  9. August 15, 2016 @ 12:47 am GI Jack

    This is the one time I got mad at a shirt, or any ad in particular. It’s really disrespects fathers, and downplays everything they do for their children. Are there deadbeat dads? Yes, but that’s the same with some moms as well. First of all, if there was a mother’s day version of this that somehow twisted it to mean “it’s really his day” or something (though I doubt that’s possible), the same people who think this shirt is great would have their panties in a knot over the other one. Same goes for that one pampers commercial that tried to make Father’s Day about mothers, if they did the reverse for Mother’s Day, the ad would be pulled, and people would probably boycott out of spite. Second, I did a quick search of this on social media, and I saw someone say that anyone offended by this is just butt-hurt. Again, the response would be the reversal of the situation, and the fact that a similar incident happened when the scientist Matt Taylor wore a shirt that “objectified” women (which was made by his friend, who is a woman), and everyone got offended and focused on the shirt, despite that he landed a spacecraft on a moving comet about an hour prior. It ended up getting so bad, that Taylor actually was pressured into apologizing, and he was CRYING. Yeah, but we’re the ones butt-hurt because of a shirt that’s legitly disrespectful to fathers, right?

    Reply

  10. July 1, 2017 @ 12:50 pm Jamar

    Everyone on here is overreacting. I am a father and bought the shirt. Why? Because it’s a humorous way of showing my devotion to my wife. Has anyone considered that MAYBE Old Navy was thinking of the proud hard working family man that strives to keep his significant other satisfied? “Happy wife, happy life,” right? The shirt is what you make it – I wear mine with pride.

    Reply


Would you like to share your thoughts?

Your email address will not be published.