• Sat, Dec 21 - 3:07 pm ET

Designer Dad Issues A MessageTo Photo Companies – LGBT Families Buy Holiday Cards Too

designer dad

Iva & Ana & Ema

My family is not a Christmas or holiday card type family. I believe that we’ve only done one official photo card and I’ve sent out standard cards maybe three or four times. Ever. With all the rest of the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it’s one tradition I’ve been perfectly fine with leaving off the table. So I never considered how difficult it might be for non-traditional families to find representation in this regards, or at least I didn’t until I read this excellent open letter by Designer Dad Brent Almond, aka the guy who brought us that fantastic Nerd Nativity scene.

First of all, I love that he starts by admitting that this whole open letter thing that’s been going on lately is a little pompous and silly. He goes on to say that while he typically handles the creation of his family’s holiday cards, seeing as he is Designer Dad, this year he thought he would save some time and stress by perhaps using a photo card from an online company:

“As this year has had an above-normal level of stress, it crossed my mind to save some time and sanity and browse the photo card catalogs we’d received. Whenever I came across a layout I liked, I tried to picture our goofy mugs in place of the picture-perfect families smiling back at me. But as I turned page after page after page, I found myself growing disheartened, searching in vain for a photo of a two-dad or two-mom family. I guess it shouldn’t be surprising, considering very few companies of any kind feature same-sex couples or LGBT parents in their marketing or advertising. Even the ones that are historically inclusive rarely show gays or lesbians outside of LGBT publications or broadcasts.”

His curiosity piqued, Almond took a tally from the top four photo card companies, TinyPrints, Minted, Snapfish and Shutterfly. What he found was not great. Out of all four companies, exactly none had examples showing LGBT families. You read that right. NONE. Not only that, but almost all of them were caucasian families, with only a smattering of mixed race, black or Asian people thrown in. That’s it. No other races, nada:

“Hispanics do not send Christmas cards. 0 percent representation

And as I suspected, neither do LGBT people. 0 percent representation

I also checked out each company’s web site and reviewed the first page of holiday photo card designs. The percentages of hetero couples/families held fast at 100 percent. And the Caucasian quotient was across-the-board white, ranging from 90-96 percent.

In addition, I looked at the online wedding/save the date offerings, since those often feature couple photos. While there proved to be a bit more racial diversity than on the holiday cards, it was still 100 percent Mr./Mrs.”

Ugh. Do these companies really not care whether or not they represent a reasonable mix of families? Especially considering the strides that LGBT people have made this past year? Almond thinks they can and should do better, and has issues a challenge:

“If any of these four companies (or their competitors) include even one, teeny-tiny photo of a gay or lesbian couple, or better yet — a family with same-sex parents — I pledge to use them for our family holiday cards next year.* And I’ll encourage all my friends/family/readers to do the same. And I’ll write a follow-up blog post singing their praises.”

I would love to see at least one, or ideally all of these companies take up this challenge, but I won’t hold my breath. I imagine that at least part of the issue is their fear of offending their more conservative customers (you know, the same people who helped Wal-Mart sell out all their Duck Dynasty gear?). Still, it would be a wonderful gesture. Hell, if they do it, even I will buy a few damn cards from them. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

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  • Kheldarson

    I’d buy from them too! I try to send out cards to relatives at least, particularly this year since we have our first baby and everyone wants to see him. A photo card would be so much easier than standard cards, and I’d be glad to support a company that was trying to be more diverse.

    But I wonder if maybe there isn’t a point to his remark that “X group doesn’t send out photo cards”. I mean, one would think that these companies would have access to copies of pictures sent through them to choose from, so what if they honestly have mostly hetero-Caucasian users? Not to say they shouldn’t make an attempt to find diverse pictures, just wondering if maybe that’s a legitimate issue.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      These companies typically use photos taken from photo shoots with models, though. I worked at a brick and mortar store that did these cards, and this is what they did. All the photos were professionally done.

      Also, look at the number of hispanics represented. Or rather lack of a number, lol. I’m married to a hispanic man and I have tons and tons of hispanic in-laws. And they almost all buy photos cards. My MIL has been buying photocards and prints from Shutterstock for 5 or 6 years now. So I know that hispanics send them out. There is also a sizeable hispanic population in this country, so wouldn’t it make sense to include them in the examples? If they can so obviously leave out hispanics, I’m sure they have no problem leaving out LGBT people as well.

    • Kheldarson

      I was unaware of how exactly they got their photos, so thank you for the info. :) In that case, then, yes, it’s on them entirely to diversify.

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      title tense is wonky. :)

  • CrazyLogic

    I worked as a merchandiser for American Greetings for a while. During that time, about a year ago, they had a Mrs & Mrs card for a while, but no Mr & Mr. However, a lot of their wedding cards were gender neutral and just talked about eternal love without saying “man” or “woman”.

    Not inclusive enough, but it’s a start.

  • Beth
  • Emily

    Ok, so the problem is not that there aren’t LGBT themed cards, but the examples don’t show LGBT customers? Wondering where the inclusiveness ends… So we have an all-white hetero family, an all-black hetero family… Do they also need an all-white lGBT family, an all-black LGBT family, a mixed-race straight family, a mixed-race LGBT family… Does what is essentially an ad need to cover every iteration of every family which might possibly order cards?

    When I buy cards for my family to send out, I pick a design that coordinates well with the pictures we have. It does not matter one whit who is shown in the demo. I can’t fathom why this would even be an issue.