Pampers now says that they will continue to feature Sesame Street characters — “male and female” — on their diapers, but that they are adding new “colorful graphics” to certain product lines (though Sesame Street products will still be available). The company did not address comments made by their customer service agents, or by Sesame Street.
The New York Post reports that Pampers, one of the nation’s top-selling diaper brands, is dropping Cookie Monster and Elmo from its diapers amid an initiative to better embrace “gender inclusively.”
The change, which wasn’t made public, comes as part of the brand’s “gender equality work,” though the Post says it’s not apparent any parents complained that Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch were inappropriate to handle their babies’ waste products simply because they appear male.
When the Post reached out to Pampers’s parents company, Procter & Gamble, representatives for the company were “cagey,” but shoppers who questioned the loss of Sesame Street characters off diapers received clearer answers from P&G’s customer service department: “Service reps at P&G partly blamed the stealthy switch on gender issues.”
“The Pampers rep said … parents who have daughters thought that the ‘Sesame Street’ characters are too masculine,” one customer told The Post. A Sesame Street spokesperson seemed to substantiate the claim when she answered the paper’s request for comment with a clip from Pampers’s website detailing the brand’s “gender equality work.”
The new Pampers diapers have more generic designs on them — paper airplanes and cameras were mentioned in the Post’s story — in line, the company says, with the demands of Millennial parents, who seem drawn to brands like Jessica Alba’s high-end “Honest Company,” which features gender-neutral, generic designs on their diapers.
The changes might have gone unnoticed except that parents have voiced concerns about Pampers new diaper design more relevant to the disposable underwear’s purpose: the new diapers appear to leak more than the previous design, and that’s far and away a bigger problem than whether the diapers themselves reinforce traditional gender norms.