There’s been a big story rising for a while, and one that I’ve interestedly been following. The rise of gender neutrality, and in particular clothes.
John Lewis recently announced their clothing would no longer be separated but be ‘boys and girls’. I for one was very excited at this. Not because I bring my child up without a gender intentionally, but I don’t believe in being bound by the stereotypical ‘girls must wear pink/play with dolls/can’t get dirty and boys must wear blue and be little men’.
From being pregnant two years ago, I was disappointed by the lack of colour in children’s clothes. Supermarkets had aisles of white, pink or blue. High street was a bit better, but not a lot. I discovered Frugi, and later Kite, Piccalilly, Maxomorra and beautiful work at home mum made clothes that were what kids clothes should be- bright and colourful. I was hooked. Yes I bought clothes primarily aimed at girls, I have a girl, so dresses and the girlier prints but they weren’t only pink and frilly. They were rainbow and pink and blue and orange and dresses and dungarees and t-shirts and shorts and, well clothes.
If my daughter only wants to wear pink sparkly dresses, and be a fairy and play with dolls then that’s absolutely fine as that’s her choice. If she wants to wear rainbows and animal prints that’s fine too. And if she wants to wear blue and pictures of dinosaurs who am I to stop her? After all, I wear hoodies, t shirts, jeans and rarely dresses so why should I force a social construct and expectation on her?
There’s examples everywhere of the prejudice surrounding clothes and toys. On pirates and princesses day at nursery she chose to be a pirate. The only girl to do so and her keyworker’s response? ‘Wow, this makes a change’. Then I was shopping the other day, and a young girl picked out a helmet. ‘Oh no, not that one. Pick a girls one?’ The girl cried, but the answer was still no. What colour was it? Blue? Camouflage print? Only for boys written on it with big letters and a magic spell that instantly turns her into a boy and grows a penis? Nope. It was red. Plain red with black edging.
It resonates with me a little as I have a stereotypically man’s job. When I tell people what I do, there’s surprise and intrigue and ‘don’t you mind the mud/dirt/occasional guns?’. No. I don’t. Because I’m just as capable in most respects, not as good at some and better at others, than the man stood next to me doing the same job. I enjoy it.
I for one love John Lewis’s move. I’ve seen the clothes, they’re lovely. Some more girly bits, some dresses etc and some more boyish bits, but most of all they’re bright, colourful clothes. I’ll continue to tell my daughter she is a girl because she is, but I won’t stop her wearing blue or playing with cars or rolling in the mud because she is a child. One exploring her place in the world.