black african american girl wearing a watermelon t-shirt. young black african american boy wearing a monkey on his shirt.

Monkeys and Watermelons

Most of us would agree that monkeys are cute and watermelons are delicious! Something as simple as a cute animal and a fun fruit on a child’s shirt can give mixed signals depending on who's wearing it. A monkey and or watermelon on a t-shirt could represent a kids favorite animal and fruit but when worn by a black child it can be seen in a totally different way due to the history of black people being called and or considered monkeys.  

Now some parents may feel that shirts such as these are fun and innocent and that’s ok but be aware of how these types of images may be taken by others. I try not to buy nor put my child in clothing that I feel may assist in them being negatively perceived or treated. I feel the same way about clothing with words such as “diva”, “juicy”, “sassy” or  “boss” which are words normally associated with women, now consider how those same words could be perceived when worn by a little girl? I know that words like those could be seen as cute and innocent on a child but we have to careful of the labels we put children. The truth is that black and brown girls are often bullied and targeted by predators so why potentially add to it?

What we put on our girls matters (even fun t-shirts) and we should always consider and give thought to what we put on our children. Do I feel that there is clothing out there that is evil or purposely made to endanger our children? No, but I do feel that some of it has the potential to be irresponsible and depending on the context (even the well intentioned) could be considered offensive and disrespectful. We just have to be aware and move accordingly, a shirt is not always just a shirt! For reasons such as these is what inspired the Perfect Brown brand where we focus on positive messaging about black and brown skin!



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