YouTube

How We All Became Target Mom

By
Share
Ad failed to load

Most of us can agree that Target is one of the few good things to exist in this garbage world. But no one understands this better than mothers, who know there is a greater meaning to the world that opens up when you pull a rickety red cart out of a lopsided parking lot to begin a shopping adventure. And mothers know *exactly* what it means when someone self-identifies as a “Target Mom.” Target Mom knows what she wants, and what she wants is to live her best life by sipping a latte while she browses seasonal welcome mats and tasteful throw pillows in the home-decor section. Target Mom is a viral meme, a cultural phenomenon, a capitalist spirit animal — you either are one, know one, or aspire to be one.

Mika, a mom of three and avowed "Target Mom" from Utah tells Romper, "I LOVE LOVE LOVE Target. I don't know what it is about it. I have joked with my husband that they must pump something through the air vents to make you happy because just walking in is magical."

The country is riven, and yet Target Mom crosses cultural and partisan boundaries. She is in Atlanta, in Chicago, in Austin, in Burlington, forever prying gingerbread house kits from the hands of her toddler or throwing miniature Hunter boots that are unaccounted for in the budget into her cart. We are all Target Mom.

Ad failed to load
Target Mom is, and always has been, goals. She practices self-care in the candle aisle and reclaims her time in the Dollar Spot; she values convenience, a good aesthetic, and a better bargain.

Ten years ago, Target was a pleasantly convenient retailer with a popcorn machine; now, moms run Target bargain Instagram accounts with a hundred thousand followers and enlist photographers to shoot styled maternity photos in the diaper aisle. A Buzzfeed Parents parody of a frazzled AF Target Mom has 25 million views and over 300,000 shares. There are 770 pages of themed Target paraphernalia on Etsy.

How did this happen?

Ad failed to load

Like Jumanji, we have all been ensnared for many years by what is called the Target Curse: the inability to leave a Target without spending under $50. The curse is so widespread that a business journalist wrote an entire book about it.

An urban mother of two tells Romper that her trips to Target when she is out in the suburbs are "a guilty pleasure — I spend way too much on things I don't need."

Ad failed to load

“We have a game called ‘Target,’” says user Ypsi on parenting board Sybermoms. “You post a list of random things that you bought at Target and everyone has to guess what you originally needed to go in there for. Winner gets a can of tuna. Or they would if it weren’t only a message board.”

It was the subject of one of the first-ever Target memes, posted on a blog called Crappy Pictures in 2012:

Ad failed to load

Same.

After some digging, I traced the feeling back to a 1978 commercial that ends with a shot of a woman, likely a mom, leaving the store followed by ten employees who are evidently trailing her with the rest of her purchases. The image is essentially a meme already:

YouTube
Ad failed to load

Case in point:

YouTube

The Curse of Target has clearly withstood the test of 40 years. Still, moms nationwide continue to call Target things like “happy place,” “second home,” and “mid-week sabbatical in sea of societal chaos.” Can you really say it’s a curse if you leave with your soul recharged? Isn’t that kind of ~priceless~?

Ad failed to load
The significance of a department store that traffics in bargains and lets you breastfeed in public without anyone calling the police isn't lost on the moms of America.

And anyway, the Target slogan basically explains how a visit works: "Expect More, Pay Less." We've just been reading it wrong — you should expect that you'll come home with more than you planned on, but no worries, because it's all discounted. Also look! You're in an alternate universe where diverse young women with messy buns are the cultural majority.

Target isn't apolitical. The significance of a department store that traffics in bargains and lets you breastfeed in public without anyone calling the police isn't lost on the moms of America. As our wages have frozen, our reproductive rights have been put under assault, and our children's futures have been auctioned off to fossil fuel companies, a place where we can be relatively in charge, feel seen, tote our babies, and wear our LuLaRoes without embarrassment is naturally a freaking haven.

Ad failed to load

It's something we've actually begun to print out and wear.

Most internet memes and subcultures have a very short shelf life, probably because humans have evolved to have the attention spans of a squirrel. Target Mom’s longevity is the exception, because Target’s model of upscale discount retailing is the exception. You cannot name a more iconic duo than Starbucks + an inventory so vast you could supply an apocalypse bunker.

Ad failed to load
What is peak mom if not being 'pregnant AF' on a couch in the home-decor section of Target with a Starbucks drink?

Fast forward a few years to 2012 and 2013, when social networks morphed from platforms for innocent status updates into a polar vortex of meme culture. It was only natural that the two great loves of moms everywhere — memes and Target — would come together in holy matrimony. Suddenly, the hills were alive with the sound of appropriate background music and non-fluorescent lighting:

Ad failed to load

Target Mom had become a unifying principle, something that made us all moms feel like they were understood, connected, important to the universe. Something you'd tag a close friend on.

Someecards, known for its user-generated “deadpan Hallmark alternatives,” saw four or five viral Target Mom e-cards in the span of those two years. Even our colleagues at Bustle chimed in with their signature attention to meme detail (see cart: millennial pink lampshade, faux sheepskin throw, salmon accent rug, single indoor plant leaf).

Bustle
Ad failed to load

Things picked up speed again in 2013, when two moms unlocked new levels with their Instagram account @targetdoesitagain, which became so popular so quickly that it was featured on Target’s corporate blog 💯. Moms had essentially turned Target into fan-worship, and were sharing their shopping finds out of the goodness of their own hearts.

The weird thing is how satisfying it is to follow an unauthorized retailer account. Upon seeing, say, @targetdoesitagain's photo of an outdoor cactus pillow for only $19.99, you really do think, "... I need this outdoor cactus pillow for only $19.99."

Ad failed to load

Other Target Moms followed suit with @target_addict, @targetlife, @ohtarget, @targetfanatic, and the coveted handle @targetmoms.

It made me briefly wonder what effect this has on Target kids. Turns out they’re already paying homage:

"I worked very hard on this skit." Tex Hammond on YouTube
Ad failed to load

The movement to reclaim the term "basic b*tch" (who is notably a fan of the PSL) was fueled in part by moms. "Basic" had been a putdown cloaked in classism and racism, and the embrace of the label by the women it sought to insult was a clutch move. The pumpkin spice latte is more powerful than ever, thanks to basic b*tches. October is unofficially PSL month. But scorn and condescension toward women, and moms in particular, lives on in our culture.

So it was only natural moms would turn elite scorn for big-box stores and inorganic parenting into a celebration of all their mortal, earth-bound aspirations as women who devote their lives to keeping their kids fed and shod — a task requiring great big shopping carts and biweekly visits. The big red cart became a symbol of their merry keeping-calm-and-carrying-on as moms. If there isn't a Target shopping cart Christmas ornament somewhere on Etsy this year, I will eat my own succulent.

I’d argue that the ubiquity of Target Mom wasn’t truly qualified until four months ago, when Page Miller posted photos from her maternity shoot in a St. Louis Target:

Ad failed to load

The comments are all some version of “literally same,” or “my sole regret in life is that I didn’t think of this first, god damn it.”

What is peak mom if not being “pregnant AF” on a couch in the home decor section of Target with a Starbucks drink while her overalled child distracts herself with a bag of M&Ms?

Ad failed to load
One who is not a mom might announce 'I’m such a Target Mom' in the same way one who is not an Upper East Side freelance writer would announce 'I’m such a Carrie.'

Non-moms have begun to identify with the type, proof of how deeply Target Mom has permeated our world as a broader concept. One who is not a mom might announce “I’m such a Target Mom” in the same way one who is not an Upper East Side freelance writer would announce “I’m such a Carrie.” As an experiment, I texted “are you a target mom” to my friend Aislinn, who is not a mom (nor am I). She replied within two minutes: “I would say yes 100%.”

She elaborates: “Like my own mother, as I recall from from the days of my youth, I spend at least 60 dollars every time I'm there, load up my car with things I don't need, and finish eating my bag of Target movie popcorn on the drive back home. God I love that place.”

Ad failed to load

It’s a constant refrain on Twitter:

Ad failed to load

Target Mom is, and always has been, goals. She practices self-care in the candle aisle and reclaims her time in the Dollar Spot; she values convenience, a good aesthetic, and a better bargain.

Ad failed to load

There’s little more than captures her essence than this clip from Raven Elyse, a Target Mom vlogger, a box of Cheerios and baby nestled comfortably in that iconic red cart:

Ad failed to load
RAVEN ELYSE on YouTube

Girl, no one’s stopping you. And no one ever will.

Check out Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:

Ad failed to load

Watch full episodes of Romper's Doula Diaries on Facebook Watch.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

6 Early Signs You're Going To Have A Short Labor, According To Experts

As far as I'm concerned, a short labor is right up there with winning the lottery in terms of lucky life events. (And when I was actually in labor, I would absolutely have traded a bucketful of lottery winnings for a speedier birth.) While some women…
By Kelly Mullen-McWilliams

Kids Will Love These TV Shows & Movies Coming To Netflix In March

You can always count on Netflix to keep it fresh: though there are already so many movies and shows to choose from, every month there's an influx of new content to keep your entire family entertained. As February enters its final weeks, it's time to …
By Megan Walsh

Here Are 10 Ways To Boost Your Baby's Immunity To The Flu

As I'm sure you've read in the thousands upon thousands of articles written about it this winter, the flu is spreading like wildfire and it's bad. Really bad. This strand of flu is the worst we've had in a very long time and it's the most widespread,…
By Abi Berwager Schreier

Khloé Kardashian Asked Twitter About Her Bump, & Moms Totally Delivered

Like her younger sister Kylie Jenner, Khloé Kardashian managed to keep most of her pregnancy a sort-of secret. But unlike Jenner, Kardashian chose to publicly announce her pregnancy several months before the baby's due date. While there's no wrong wa…
By Sophie Hirsh

21 Moms Share The Most Surprising Part About Having A C-Section

Honestly, I don't think we, as a culture, talk about C-sections nearly enough, especially considering so many mothers experience them. And because of a number of factors, the little we do talk about it always seems to be a familiar narrative: "It's n…
By Jamie Kenney

13 Yummy Instant Pot Recipes To Make Under 30 Minutes

An Instant Pot seems to be the must-have appliance in every kitchen these days. If you are anything like me and never knew the beauty of a Instant Pot, you are about to have your life changed. Basically, you put some ingredients into a pot, set the t…
By Kristin Manna

9 Things The First Six Months Of Motherhood Will Teach You About Your Baby

Personally, the first six months of motherhood was a mixed bag. I learned some harsh lessons about myself that made taking care of my baby seem overwhelming. For example, I was clueless, and no amount of research could help me feel like anything but …
By Steph Montgomery

11 Photos You *Must* Take During The Last Days Of Your Pregnancy

During my first pregnancy, I took a photo each week to document my growing belly. I stopped around 36 weeks, though. I hated how I looked in those pictures, and didn't think I'd want to relive those moments. I was wrong. My second pregnancy was a dum…
By Steph Montgomery

6 Red Flags To Definitely Look Out For After Your Baby Falls

The first time my infant son tried to take a few steps, he tumbled and bumped his head on the coffee table. My blood turned to ice in my veins and I froze. There truly isn't anything quite like the feeling a parent gets when their little one gets hur…
By Sarah Bunton

These 9 Instant Pot Recipes Will Make Even The Pickiest Eater Happy At The Table

Like any parent, I've had my share of parenting hits and misses, but one of my favorite "wins" is my daughter's diverse palate. I don't even know if I can take credit for it, but I would like to think I had something to do with her love for lentils, …
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik

Turns Out, Kim Kardashian's Favorite Mom Products Look A Lot Like Your Own Faves

Being a mom is really hard work, especially for the first few months, and Kim Kardashian West is no different in that regard. Now the mother of three, Kardashian says that there are a few products she just can't live without when it comes to raising …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

10 Things No One Tells You About Having A Baby In Your 30s

If you're like me, you evaluate the pros and cons of any major life decision. When my husband and I were considering starting a family, I thought about my career, education, and financial stability. I wanted to know how a pregnancy and childbirth wou…
By Steph Montgomery

Soda Might Hurt Your Fertility, Study Says, & Here's What You Can Do

Who doesn't love sugary drinks? I stopped drinking soda years ago, but I still love gulping down those fancy Starbucks coffee beverages. I don't have a big sweet tooth, but I am a sucker for sugar-sweetened beverages every now-and-then. Turns out, th…
By Annamarya Scaccia

5 Red Flags Your Toddler Isn't Eating Enough

Toddlers are notoriously picky eaters, at least in my experience. You offer mashed potatoes, they want french fries. You give them crackers, they scream for chips. It's frustrating, to be sure, but it's usually their way of vying for independence. It…
By Candace Ganger

35 Moms Share The Most Disgusting Things Their Husbands Do

I'm a human being who revels in challenges. I like when people present me with one, especially if they don't think I can meet or succeed it, and I like taking a challenge on, especially if it's unexpected. So when I aimed to uncover the most disgusti…
By Jamie Kenney

How Having Kids In Your 20s Affects You Later In Life

For parents, like myself, who had kids in their 20s, there are a number of questions that come to mind. When you're deciding what your future will look like, you'll likely consider what this means for your health, career, and more down the line. Thin…
By Tessa Shull

Study: Drinking Two Glasses Of Wine A Day Is Good For Your Mind — Here's Why

There’s more scientific proof that a daily drink or two isn't necessarily a bad thing and could have a place in an overall healthy lifestyle. A new study out of the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) in New York found that — in mice, at le…
By Tiffany Thomas

Research Says Eating Carbs Can Lead To A Healthy Pregnancy, So Bring On The Pasta

In the world of me, no food is better than bread. I know it's supposed to be pretty terrible for you, high in calories, low in protein, and full of that modern-day demon, gluten... but guys, it's really yummy. Especially warm out of the oven, when th…
By Jen McGuire

These Photos Of Prince George Then & Now Will Give You Serious Baby Fever

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their third child in Spring 2018. With all of the excitement surrounding the new baby, it's easy to forget all of the good times that have already passed. The couple's eldest is already well into the sc…
By Azure Hall

This Is, Hands Down, The *Grossest* Thing Babies Do Inside The Womb

Your baby's life in the womb may be safe and warm, but it's also kind of grody. Seriously, the whole process of growing into a human being includes more than a few icky moments along the way. But this is the grossest thing babies do inside the womb b…
By Lindsay E. Mack