Representation matters, even for babies — not so much for the babies themselves, who can’t see pajama ads yet, but for parents of children with physical differences, who encounter insensitive comments and a lack of representation daily. Little Sleepies, a bamboo pajama brand for kids with a cult-like following, featured a baby with a forehead hemangioma in September, modeling their Halloween line. They will also soon feature a model with special needs, and parents everywhere have applauded their representation of a multiracial, presumably LGBTQ family.
“As a family-focused brand, it’s important to us that all families can see themselves in our sleepwear and daywear. We featured a baby named Mila with a hemangioma during our recent Halloween campaign,” Salpy Talian, Sr. Art Director at Little Sleepies, tells Motherly. “As a result, we’ve received an outpouring of love and appreciation from our community for showing children like theirs. When our Holiday Collection launches, our friend Riley who has special needs will make her debut. Inclusiveness is at the heart of everything we do at Little Sleepies.” Riley is expected to be featured in the new line Sept. 12.
Infantile hemangiomas are blood vessels that form differently than usual on the skin, and grow rapidly up till 3 months of age, Hopkins Medicine reports. At that point, they are 80% of their full potential size. They often stop growing by the first birthday, and some recede completely by age 4. Around half of kids are left with a scar or extra blood vessels on the skin. They are more common in girls, and they are the most common tumor to impact children. Luckily, very few babies need surgery as it often goes away on its own. But in the meantime, it can be tough for parents to deal with commentary about their child’s birthmark.
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They overwhelmingly applauded the company’s decision in the post’s comments. “…Featuring a baby with a hemangioma just solidified my love. My baby girl also has a hemangioma. I love love love this representation,” one mom writes. Another commented how helpful it was to see “all the other families commenting the same as me.” Some parents called their kids “strawberry babies” referring to hemangioma’s nickname of a “strawberry birthmark” and commended their inclusivity. One mom said it made her cry of happiness.
On another ad, commenters chimed in supporting the company’s stance on gay pride. “Aww your family is beautiful…happy pride,” one wrote.
Little Sleepies joins a handful of companies leading the way in improved and diverse model representation in their advertising and marketing efforts. Good American uses models up to size 24, Target has featured children with Down’s Syndrome and people in wheelchairs, and Peleton’s addition of an adaptive training instructor has widened their fan base and the public’s awareness of adaptive clothing, Forbes reports.
One of the original innovators in expanding representation is Dove, with their “Real Beauty” campaign, which started far before some others in 2004. They aimed to improve confidence in women and children by showing unedited bodies of all shapes, sizes, and ages. “We always feature women, never models. We portray women as they are in real life. We do not digitally distort our images,” they posted on their website.
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As they increasingly seek to support companies who share their values and ethics, parents might be flocking to Little Sleepies even more than before, for much more than their mega soft pajamas.