They're Dreaming of a White Christmas

A few weeks ago, I saw an ad for a site called gifts.com. I thought it was a neat idea, to offer ideas for gifts paired with sites where you could buy them. I was thinking they might offer unique ideas, and at least help you get started when you felt a little "stuck" about buying for someone. So, when websurfing a few days later, I went to gifts. com. And noticed something. You can pull up a list of ideas based on different personality types. Most of the women I know are multi-dimensional and would fit into several of their categories, and many have made categories of their own. I wasn't really crazy about their approach, but, I was there, so clicked onward. The Achiever Famous Example: Lynette from Desperate Housewives. The Adventurer, Picabo Street. Country Clubber, Charlotte York from Sex in the City. Trendanista, Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, Jessica Simpson, and Rachel Bilson. Are you noticing anything?

Natural Woman, Jane Goodall and the founder of the Body Shop. Domestic Diva, Martha Stewart and Debra Barrone. How 'bout now? I mean, besides most of their examples are not real women. Lack of color, maybe? I was stunned when I realized that every single one of their famous examples was white. Urban Sophisticate? White. Thinker? White. Super Mom? White, white, white.

I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I wrote the customer service department a letter:

I checked out your site after seeing it advertised, and thought it was such a good idea! Now, I'm not so sure. I'm needing to pick out a gift for a coworker, and I noticed that *none* of the women profiled fit who she is. She is African-American, and if you look carefully at the Famous Examples, they are all white. (except for the generic Apprentice Candidates, Jeopardy contestants, and Christiane Amanpour, who is half-Iranian)

Apparently, you do not have people of color in your world. I have plenty in mine, and I'm appalled at the exclusion. Not a single black woman. I mean - not even Oprah! Could you think of *no* African American women who would fit your categories? C'mon, get with it - it's 2007! Black people aren't invisible any more.

I was pleased and surprised to receive a compassionate, helpful response a few days later. I have searched and searched, but I must have deleted it! (I'm feeling very frustrated at myself!) I couldn't believe how much thought went into their response. I was assured they would do everything they could to rectify the situation, now that it had been brought to their attention. And the person writing also let me know the e-mail was forwarded onward and upward through the gifts.com hierarchy, so the top brass could be made aware of the problem. I gave it a few days, and just today went to check the site. Here's what I found:

In their compassion and newly found awareness of women of color, they added... Oprah Winfrey. And - a bonus! - Condoleeza Rice. That's it. Two.

I honestly don't know whether to laugh or cry. Or, just feel grateful that those two women were added.


Mrs. G. said...

I think you should be pleased, because, clearly, your little note made them think AND act.

See...one small gesture can bring change. That gives me hope. Good work.

Rachel said...

You tried, You got something. I think their 'change' is a reflection of your power, but their lack of originality and diversity is a reflection of their own failure.

That sounds like a neat site, but talk about pigeonholing yourself and cutting yourself off to a HUGE part of society.
That you did something and got something in return is a good sign, though.

Anonymous said...

My theme for today is: "Words do real work."

What an excellent example of that.

TammyVitale said...

hear hear to the previous comments...what you did here was show that one persona CAN make a difference...you never know what show that ripple will land on...don't measure by the immediate, just know it will keep going (and you got to see the beginning - what a gift that is!)

Hope all is well in your world!