Stereotypes

Kleenex’s decision to rebrand ‘Mansize’ tissues ‘not to be sneezed at,’ women’s equality campaigners say

(YouTube / ITV News)

Disposable tissue company Kleenex has moved to rename its most popular brand sold in the U.K., the Mansize, in response to complaints that the name is sexist and tacitly encouraged gender stereotypes. Kimberly-Clark, the corporate parent of Kleenex, said that it does not believe the Mansize brand is sexist, but nonetheless said that it has decided to address customers’ concerns by renaming them as “Extra Large” tissues.

“Kleenex Mansize tissues have been on shelves for the past 60 years. Over that time, the brand has always been characterised by a much larger tissue size, which is both soft and strong. It was launched at a time when large cotton handkerchiefs were still very popular and Kleenex offered a unique disposable alternative. Despite that our consumer service is registering consistent increase of complaints on gender concern related to Mansize subbrand,” said a spokesperson for the company. “Kimberly-Clark in no way suggests that being both soft and strong is an exclusively masculine trait, nor do we believe that the Mansize branding suggests or endorses gender inequality.”

Sam Smethers, chief executive of women’s rights charity the Fawcett Society, said that the name change was “not to be sneezed at.”

“Removing sexist branding such as this is just sensible 21st century marketing. But we still have a long way to go before using lazy stereotypes to sell products is a thing of the past,” she said, noting the pervasiveness of sexist tropes continue to create lasting impacts on how people perceive gender and women’s roles in society. For instance, a 2008 study of elementary school children found that girls, at age 6, drew women scientists 70 percent of the time. By the time they turned 16, however, 75 percent of their drawings of scientists were of men instead. In July, Britain’s advertising regulator moved to ban all ads that promote gender stereotypes, sexually objectify women, or promote unhealthy body image.

Watch video coverage of the story below, which includes a clip of the original black-and-white TV commercial for the Mansize tissues when they first launched in 1956.

Read the full story at The Telegraph.

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