Will gender bias in kids’ clothes ever go away and should we even care?

Has anyone else noticed how impractical some girls’ clothes are in shops? Girls shorts are the length of hot pants and the t-shirts are mostly fitted. I often need to buy my daughters clothes from the boys’ section. Why do I need to do this?

I know I know, there are very nice boutiques and brands which have the clothes that I am looking for, but we shouldn’t need to shop at the high-end stores to get decent clothes for girls. I am referring to our regular national retail outlets where people go for quality and affordable clothes.

My primary concern is for my daughter to be comfortable when she plays and not being put in a box of what to wear because she is a girl. Although this seems insignificant, it is important because it signals to our girls what they can and cannot do. Oh, you should be pretty in pink and sit still, but boys, please go outside and be adventurous. And that is okay if it’s their choice. However, that is not okay if the choice is made for them.

These are basic things that can be improved

1.      T-shirts for girls are always ‘fitted’ t-shirts. My daughter prefers the looser t-shirts and we often end up buying t-shirts from the ‘boys’ section’. The loose-fitting t-shirts are much more comfortable.

2.      Shorts are CRAZY short and this is a real problem. I often need to buy my daughter shorts from the boy section. The boy shorts length is a decent length and loose-fitting.

3.      Girls clothes all have very demure slogans. “Beautiful’ and “Princess’. Now these are all cute and have their place. But really, can we not get some more options for girls? Girls also like t-shirts with adventurous slogans.

4.      Pink. For heaven’s sake, why should everything be pink. Most of the moms of girls I speak with (now, I didn’t do a survey with a cross section of the population), they wished there were more non-pink clothes. Yes, pink is pretty and we love pink in our house – but come on. Let’s live on the wild side and have green dresses. I must admit I have seen some changes in the retail stores, pink is still overwhelming but I can see stores trying to bring in different colour palettes.

We buy ‘boy’ clothes in our house for both our girls (infant and preschooler). In fact, just now during winter, most of the warmer clothes were for boys? Very bizarre. The other reasons we buy boy clothes is that it gives us more variety and colours to work with and it’s just more practical. We also buy dresses and skirts for our preschooler, which she loves and adores too.

When faced with comments from our children about what girls or boys should or should not do, how should we deal with it?

This happens to us where my daughter expresses ideas about what girls and boys should wear or do.

1.      There will be messages that our children are being exposed to outside of the home, and that is okay, that is life. No matter what values you espouse inside your family, they will get exposed to messages outside the house. This needs to be accepted. The best thing is to do your best to be a good role model most of the time.

2.      When a statement is made that is gender biased, e.g. I want to be a boy, because boys run fast. Say something like  ‘you don’t need to be a boy to run fast, girls can also run fast too, did you know that?’.

3.      Let them be. This is the most important one. If your child wants to wear whatever let them. Don’t ‘strongly encourage’ your daughter to wear dresses and skirts, or the other way around (I am guilty of this, when there are functions). Let them express themselves so that they can develop their own voice. Don’t discourage girls from running around and climbing trees.

Am I making a big deal out of nothing?

My view is that this is a big deal, as I do think girls are often placed in a box. The messages that they get through subtle cues as they grow up impacts their choices later in life. Whatever my daughter likes whether it’s soccer, glitter head bands, or tulle skirts, or all of it, it’s okay if it’s her choice. Not mine or that of society.

What do you think, does it matter that much that boys have clothes that encourage adventure and outdoor play and girls’ clothes typically do not?

 Featured Image: istock