My brother and I were born 18 months apart, which means that I often got to wear his hand-me-downs growing up. It wasn’t out of the ordinary for me to sport a pair of corduroy pants he had outgrown. And it wasn’t an issue. I mean, pants are pants, right? This brings me to the point of this post: Why do many retailers still identify gender-specific clothing items for children?
Little K is outgrowing her wardrobe at an alarming rate, which necessitated a trip to the mall over the weekend. I won’t lie, I was embarrassingly excited at the prospect of going to the mall (it’s not usually my activity of choice). But after being at home for 2 months with a baby you would also be excited!
At the mall we encountered a few friendly strangers who stopped us to comment on how cute “he” is or how much our little boy looks like his dad. I can only assume that because K was wearing a babygrow that wasn’t pink or girly, these strangers automatically assumed she was a boy. Granted, it is difficult to differentiate whether a baby is a boy or a girl. For the most part they look like wise, bald old men for the first few months. FYI, she was wearing the babygrow with the stars as in the header image of this post. But I digress…
I bought K a couple of items from a few retailers. One specific retailer classifies clothing as “Boys”, “Girls’ or “Unisex” on the till slip. None of the items I bought was classified as “Girls”.
K already has a number of babygrows, vests and leggings/pants from this particular retailer. Out of interest, I decided to go online and see whether any of the other items I had previously bought her were still available online (I don’t recall seeing any in the store) to check under what category they are classified under. Lo and behold, practically all of it that’s still available online is listed as boy’s clothing. And all the (super cute) dinosaur items, including little sets consisting of a beanie with a dinosaur “spine” and matching booties, are also listed under the boy’s section. And this annoys the shizz out of me.
I am baffled. Are we saying that unless it sports flowers, frills and butterflies or is pink, then it isn’t meant for a girl? Or that girls can’t wear dinosaur-inspired items? Can clothing not simply be categorised as “Children” or “Baby”?
Among other, K has a pair of leggings with cars on it, she also has one with pink sheep. I don’t want her to grow up accepting things in society’s pre-determined boxes without question. E.g. like thinking that it’s more appropriate for boys to play with cars or less appropriate for boys to play with dolls. Yes, I know I am generalising here. I want her to form her own opinions. If she wants Santa to bring her a monster truck at Christmas for being a good girl, then I don’t want her to think twice about it or to question her choice. I say, “Bring on the monster truck!” If she wants to wear a t-shirt emblazoned with a T-Rex, Batman, faeries or unicorns then she should feel free to make that choice based on what she likes, not on what is largely deemed by society as being more appropriate for a little girl.
I don’t want to name and shame the retailer, but I will be sending their marketing team a (polite) email to help usher them into the 21st century. And I will continue to buy or offer my child the choice of clothing in pink, blue, orange, red, green, white, yellow, purple, brown, teal, black, fuschia, grey, and every other colour you can think of in-between. OK, rant over…