Gendered Clothing?

With my oldest officially entering toddlerhood, I’ve been thinking a lot more about how gendered children’s clothing is, and how utterly ridiculous it is. While I was only dealing with infant clothing, I of course noticed it in regards to the color and designs (example: dragons vs ladybugs) of the clothing. Once the child is old enough to walk and talk and have opinions, the difference in “boys’ clothing” and “girls’ clothing” is startling.

“Why do we have to have such a big difference between “boys’ clothing” and “girls’ clothing” even before kids are really old enough to notice the difference between boys and girls bodies?!”

Richie was very excited to buy Arya a Maui shirt one time when he was at the store because she loves anything and everything about the movie Moana. It’s a 2T, the same as the majority of her shirts, yet it fits SO DIFFERENTLY. Why? It’s a “boys’ shirt”. This 2T “boys’ shirt” is even bigger than the majority of the 3T shirts that we recently bought from the “girls’ section”. Why do we have to have such a big difference between “boys’ clothing” and “girls’ clothing” even before kids are really old enough to notice the difference between boys and girls bodies?!

Here’s my toddler wearing the 2T “boy’s shirt”. Compare the sleeves to the sleeves in the next picture.

Just recently, I had a conversation that ended up being about the gender of shoes.

A well meaning family member wanted to get Arya some sandals for her to wear outside instead of tennis shoes. We ended up having a long conversation on which shoes would be the best choice. One was a dainty “girl’s sandal” that came in white or silver. The other was a brown sandal with a thicker sole. I figured the sturdier looking, brown sandal would be a better option for outside shoes, but they were dismissed as being “boy shoes”. Do shoes have genitalia or require genitalia in a way that I wasn’t aware of? No? Then, why do shoes have a set gender? Focus on the function and color of the shoe, not it’s set “gender”.

This is her favorite 3T shirt. You can tell it’s a “girls’ shirt” while even ignoring the unicorn.

As you can probably tell, I just can’t seem to get this conversation out of my head. It just put a spotlight on the differences between girls and boys clothing in general in my mind lately. Here’s what I’ve found the majority of retailers define as each:

Girls’ Clothing:

  • Almost any and all colors, but mostly BRIGHT
  • Thinner, more fragile materials
  • Looks over comfort
  • Form Fitting
  • Diverse Designs and Patterns
  • Less Pockets
  • Shorter sleeves and shorts

Boys clothing:

  • Neutral colors plus blues, greens, orange, and only certain varieties of red (can’t look too pink or purple)
  • Sturdier, thicker materials
  • Comfort and Looks
  • Looser, baggier fit
  • Stripes, plaid, animals

Basically, what I’ve noticed is that “girls’ clothing” has more diversity it looks, but is less practical for active children. “Boys’ clothing”, on the other hand, is more practical for longevity of the clothing and tends to be comfier, but can be very boring when trying to get diversity in looks.

I just don’t see why we can’t have more retailers offering gender neutral clothing that allows for all kids of all ages to enjoy colorful, diverse clothing that is comfortable and will handle kids simply living life.


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