As you've probably noticed the past few years, personalize products are everywhere nowadays. But they are not without their controversies — for instance, the fact that Nutella won't let you use the word "lesbian" when picking a custom label. And that's not the only word they're blocking, either.
It's only natural when companies that allow people to add their own messages to labels try to make sure people won't be making anything offensive or overly objectionable. After all, no company wants their brand associated with bigoted or obscene messages. And so it makes sense companies would try to filter out things like swear words or racial slurs. But unfortunately, whoever is making this list seems to have a very strange understanding of what constitutes offensive.
Take Nutella, for instance. The brand is currently in the middle of a French marketing campaign that lets users order jars of the chocolate hazelnut spread with custom labels — but the labels can't include the word "lesbian." The French word for lesbian ("lesbienne") is on a list of terms that are just not allowed. The word "gay" is fine. And they've also banned "Muslim" and "Jew," but not "Christian."
According to a statement by Nutella's parent company, "Negative or insulting messages were directly removed from the field of possibilities, the idea being to use the jar of Nutella as a communication medium to share enthusiasm. Similarly, words of communities that are often subject to attacks by malicious people were removed from the proposals."
Which still doesn't make much sense. After all, there is nothing negative or insulting about being a lesbian or Jewish or Muslim. And while these are all marginalized groups of people who can face a lot of bigotry, erasing these identities, or acting as thought they are inherently offensive, isn't any better. Nutella could create a list of terms for marginalized groups and have someone review any labels using the terms to make sure they weren't being deployed in a derogatory fashion, but instead they simply opted to get rid of the words altogether.
And unfortunately, this is not the first time this has happened.
You probably remember the customized Coke campaign from last summer. The promotion is over, but if you tried to print off any bottles with the word "gay" you would have run into an error message asking you to try again.
Adidas customizable trainers now allow customers to use the words "lesbian" and "gay," but only after a lot of outcry. And they still don't allow "bi" or "trans."
3. The NFL
The NFL allows fans to create custom jerseys, including personalized names, but has only recently begun to allow the word "gay" to appear. They still don't let you use the word lesbian.
So basically, wherever these companies are getting their list of "objectionable" words from, they need to revisit it, big time. I know that there are people out there who consider being gay to be somehow scandalous or "not family friendly" or whatever else, but that doesn't mean that any such thing is true. LGBT identities are not shocking or scandalous; they're natural parts of people's identities. And it's about time they were treated as such.
Images: Getty (3)