My parents tried to raise me in relatively gender neutral clothing, and I fought it every step of the way. Mom would dress me in brown second-hand cords and yellow tshirts, only to be foiled by my paternal grandmother sending me Little House easter dresses from Sears, which I vastly preferred.
I remain amused by the photos like this one where I’m a grubby little hippie child in the woods, wearing my lacey finery and a tidy little headband. Although I would eventually go through my “lavender polyester sweat suit” phase in 5th grade, I looooved frilly stuff as a little girl. The only way my mother was able to convince me to wear pants more often was by telling me at age five that jeans made me look tall. I clearly remember thinking “Ooh, I want to look tall — I better wear more jeans.”
I recounted this story recently for our friends Kate & Steve, who are trying to fend off the ubiquitous frilly princess girl clothes for their daughter Ruby. I was like, “You can try, and my parents sure did … and look what happened to me! I’m a billion times more froofy than my mom, love sparkly make up and wearing my pink heels with bows on the front.” The thought crossed my mind that maybe I didn’t care that much about gender neutral clothes.
And then. We started getting hand-me-down baby stuff from various friends and family who know we’re having a boy. Little brown baby baseball hats. Lots of blue and brown stripes. A shirt and short set covered in fire engines. A onesie covered in monster trucks that said “Li’l Crusher” all over it. I quickly got overwhelmed. Many of the clothes are either pastel-y newborn things or somber BOY colors … navy, brown, grey, dark red. I like bright colors! Does this mean boys don’t get to wear bright colors?
That day, I traded emails with a friend about adorable baby clothes, and when I showed her a purple hooded romper thing I was lusting over, she said “Oh, you really wanted a girl, didn’t you?”
I thought to myself, BUT IT’S DEEP PURPLE! That’s a girl color now?
So, feeling like the hand-me-downs were too BOY!! for me, I decided to poke around online to see what else was available. I started with onesies.
…and quickly learned that the official palette of newborns is Easter Egg Pastels. Everything is light pink and pale blue, custard yellow, and soft green. The weird thing here is that newborn vision is so poor that really the only colors that are actually interesting to them are black, white, and red. Why aren’t baby clothes all zebra-print with big red hearts all over them? Why soft blue for boys and soft pink for girls? I want rockabilly flames and Victorian wallpaper patterns.
Luckily, I found a place that sells wholesale baby onesies in very bright colors. I will probably be stocking up on what *I* think of as gender neutral colors. Not pale green and yellow, but RED! ORANGE! KELLY GREEN! DEEP PURPLE! BLACK! WHITE! BRIGHT BLUE!