A new poster at Whole Foods shows a photo of a young girl in a tiny jogging bra and tiny stretchy short-shorts. She’s standing in a triumphant pose, flexing her biceps on what appears to be a mountain top. The caption reads “Grow Up Strong and Harmless.” Strong everybody understands, but harmless?
People are more than a little confused. It’s a hard sentiment to process. Strong and harmless? It’s jarring–and why a girl? Harmless has echoes of meek, unassertive, co-dependent–of being like a doormat. Of course, no one wants a child to be harmful–which is the opposite of harmless–so the poster makes sense from that point of view. (Whole Foods likely means don’t harm the earth–with pollution, carelessness, etc.) The ad is by ad agency Partners & Spade–you can tell they’re cool just by how they flip the name. (The agency is run by Andy Spade, husband of Kate Spade and co-founder of the Kate Spade brand.) By the way, there are 31 executives listed on the Whole Foods Market leadership team page. Seven of them are women.