Gender roles are soul crushing so why are we still gendering kids clothes?

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I love this shirt from Etsy seller spillthebeansetc

I was two minutes into writing a post about shoes for toddlers when I had to stop and throw a public fit. Why the hell are we still gendering kids clothes? Why does a store like Old Navy that has a wonderful selection of gender neutral clothing still have to separate their website into “girls” and “boys” sections? Why am I forced to gender my child before they even have a chance to figure it out themselves just so I can them get some damned shoes?

Why can’t I just shop “toddler” by size???

What is the point of gendering kids clothes?

Are they really saying that girls should or shouldn’t wear a certain selection of their shoes? Do my kids genitals really play any part in what sweatshirt she needs? Would it harm her in any way if she wore pants in the “boys” section? If not, why the hell does the concept of gender need to be a part of the shopping process?

My kid has never let perceived gender roles play a part in the things she likes. (Which right now is mostly dinosaurs, Spiderman and sea creatures.) And I love that she just gets to like what she likes. I know one day some doofus will say “Spiderman is for BOYS” to her, and she’ll be made to feel shame or embarrassment about something she loves. But it hasn’t happened yet, and I certainly don’t need a clothing store to be the first to do it to her.


Hey @Old Navy Official it’s time to stop enforcing gender norms on children and their parents. #childrensclothing #gender #gendernonconforming #wtf

♬ WTF (feat. Amber Van Day) – HUGEL

It’s time to progress past archaic gender roles

Growing up I used to rage at gender assumptions made on my behalf. No, I don’t want to play with the neighbor’s mean daughter, I want to play with the boy down the street who never makes me feel bad. Why does my brother always get to go to the magical and fascinating hardware store with my dad, and I don’t? Why is the “girls” aisle in Toys R Us a wall of dizzying purples and pinks? I cursed the day I was born a girl, and wished constantly to be a boy, because clearly boys were given more and better options. And that was back in the ancient 1900s.

How is has it been 30+ years since I found myself feeling angry and pigeonholed by gendered clothing and toys and as a kid and I’m STILL feeling that way as a parent!? We should have come further than this by now.

The sex organs my child was born with are not relevant to what she wears on her feet. Please Big Fashion, just let kids enjoy things. They’ll face so many battles when it comes to gender and stereotypes and physicality in their life, let’s not encourage it by continuing to separate clothing into “girls” and “boys.”

Body positive and anti-gender this is my type of onsie by Etsy seller CatchAWaveDesigns

How SHOULD we categorize kids clothes?

Someone commented “I want my daughter to wear ruffles and pink things, and I want to be able to easily find them” when I posted my rant on TikTok. And, yeah, I get that. I also actively seek out particular types of clothing for my kid. And at the moment my shopping experience on sites like Old Navy force me to chose a gender-dependent department (or option-limiting “gender neutral”) just to filter by size. Do you know what I would LOVE in a shopping experience? Sections based on interests, or styles (ruffled v straight hems), or colors. Because all you really need to know when dressing your kid is:

  1. What makes them happy?
  2. What are they comfortable in?
  3. What activities are they doing?
  4. What’s the weather going to be like?
  5. What size?

And if you notice, “boy” or “girl” is not the answer to ANY of those questions. So why does Old Navy keep asking me that?

Comments on Gender roles are soul crushing so why are we still gendering kids clothes?

  1. OH I have such strong opinions on this! I buy half my daughter’s clothes from the boys section because she also likes dinosaurs and jungle animals and sharks and all that cool stuff. And that’s before we even get into how she outgrows pants from the girls’ sections five minutes after I buy them because they’re listed as pants but are actually leggings. So only boys are allowed to be comfortable and have pockets?

    The other day my mom and I were at Target and wanted to pick up a few shirts. We happened to be closer to the boys’ section and found two cool shirts: one with species of lizards and one with phases of the moon. On our way out we passed a section of girls’ shirts and my mom asked if I thought any of those were better. Nope: they were all cupcakes and rainbows and unicorns. Because why put anything science-y or educational on a shirt marketed at girls? It makes me so angry. (I possibly had a loud rant about it in the middle of the store, because why not?)

    Now I’m pregnant with twin boys. I expect to still be shopping in both the boys’ and girls’ sections purely out of stubbornness and a refusal to let my kids be categorized based on society’s stupid expectations.

  2. Yes yes yes to ALL of this! And it’s EVERYWHERE. Carter’s in-person store is so annoyingly laid out with “girls” on one side and “boys” on the other, so if we want to pick up new pajamas it means dashing all over. Even online places like ThredUp (which I love otherwise) break up their kids clothing into boys vs. girls, which means two different searches to find what I need. I prefer for kids clothes for this reason – you can just search “children’s clothing – all” by size and YOU SEE EVERYTHING.

    And also the boys’ pants are actually made of sturdy materials and have POCKETS FOR DAYS and the boys’ swimwear has far more options for long sleeves and shorts for yanno, actual sun protection.

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