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?
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.
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.”
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:
- What makes them happy?
- What are they comfortable in?
- What activities are they doing?
- What’s the weather going to be like?
- 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?