“Whenever she imagined her child, grown up without interference from a judgemental world, she imagined its male and female halves as complementing each other, and as being secretly, almost magically powerful.” – Kathleen Winter
It’s a Throwback Thursday kind of day here at Runitlikeamom.com. Today I’m revisiting the topic of children’s clothing, specifically graphic tees, mostly because not much has changed since the first time I wrote about it in September 2014. It might not seem like a big deal, and in the grand scheme of things, I guess it isn’t. Except that…we put expectations on our children at a young age about their behavior, their future, and their roles in life, and in our society, clothing plays a big part in that.
Society in general seems to have advanced in many ways since I was a child. Although it also seems that it’s become more polarized. Maybe my experience as a member of Gen-X was unique, in that I had two full-time working parents most of the time, and I had two parents that never set any expectations on how I would function as an adult. In other words, I wasn’t raised to be a wife and a mother. I was raised to think for myself, be resourceful, and to do as much as possible on my own. One of the college-age arguments with my father that I remember best had him saying, “I’m not contributing to your education so you can get a ‘Mrs. Degree’.” In other words, get some smarts and get that piece of paper and forget about whatever dumb fantasies you might have about meeting someone rich. You are going to state college, after all. Another gem that my father passed onto me was “You just want to do a little bit better than your parents did, so that your kids are a little bit smarter, maybe have to work a little less hard, and leave the world a little bit better than you did.” I promise, I’ll get to how this relates to clothing.
My upbringing aside; I do want my daughters to be smarter and more common-sensical that I was. And I don’t want them to face adversity, or worse, because of their gender, and I want to show them ways to become independent, encourage them to find a career they are passionate about and teach them to be forward-thinking enough to be able to nurture and work with the earth, instead of contributing to its detriment.
So now I’ve digressed several times…what does clothing have to do with all of this? Plenty, I say! I want nothing more for my girl children to grow up to be independent, intelligent, talented women who will contribute to society. And yes, when I look at the choices of clothing that is offered to them, I cringe. Yes, cats and unicorns and puppies are cute. Yes, cute sayings with hashtags are funny…HOWEVER…
When the messages on your children’s clothing mainly consist of sports and winning and Star Wars for boys, on tees that are primarily blue, grey and green, and of shopping and kittens in glasses and princesses for girls, on tees that are primarily pink, purple and pink…I have a huge fucking problem with that. What are we telling our children about their identities, and what kinds of things we think they should like and do? No son, you can’t like horses or music, you must like motorcycles and the color blue. Daughter, why would you want to play with Legos when you can dream about unicorns with crowns? Do you see what I mean?
So once again, I’m calling out The Children’s Place, which is one of worst perpetrators. I did my best to spend a gift card this week just to get rid of it, but you will not get one more dollar of my money unless you fix this. Offer more colors to both boys and girls. Offer more sports and science for girls. Offer more animals and phrases that don’t involve kicking everyone’s ass for boys. Please.