We are all aware of the pink and blue divide all around us based on gender but there is something else that needs attention now. My daughter’s arrival taught me something that I don’t think I would have learnt otherwise. Millennial parents please take note.
As we started arguing over the blue onesie I picked for my daughter at the store, my husband reminded me, “This is the boys’ section. Let’s go.”
He simply walked away. I stopped for a second to look around and realized how it didn’t matter to me at all which section I was buying from. This happened two years back when we were buying clothes for our newborn.
I was reminded of this incident recently when I read about the history of the “blue and pink” gender divide online. Owing to the introduction of pre-natal screening in the 1970-80s and increasing consumerism, we have come to believe that pink is for girls and blue is for boys. The worst part is that this stereotype starts right when the child is born.
This stereotyping has been discussed extensively by Jo B. Paoletti, a Professor Emerita of American Studies at the University of Maryland in College Park. You can google her to read more about her work on the issue.
In the early part of the 20th century and even later in the 1950s and 60s, there wasn’t a difference in the clothes of newborn and toddlers based on gender. Almost all wore whites and frocks till a certain age.
It was only later in their lives that parents would dress them according to their own dressing style. As prenatal screening began, manufacturers realized they could take advantage of the “blue-pink” fad.
Separate sections for boys and girls started cropping up. It became economically more viable to continue with the gender stereotype and brainwash parents. I believe most of us today are aware of this divide.
Now let me get to the other issue I have with this gender divide starting at the infant stage. Apart from the color stereotype, I also see specific prints/designs that are traditionally associated with boys, not being available for girls. These could be anything from dinosaurs and cars to math and science.
In the same way, it is rare or almost impossible to find unicorns and butterfly prints for young boys.
This has given rise to a separate industry cashing in big time. These are gender-specific brands, more often girls’ brands, that target parents who want to jump on the “feminist” bandwagon.
In the name of being unique and different, they are doing exactly the same thing. Making us believe in a different kind of gender prejudice. If you think about it, there’s hardly any difference in the fitting of clothes until a certain age for children.
That’s why I decided to end the stereotype in my head first. I, personally, have been buying onesies, T-shirt’s, pants and jackets for my daughter from the boys’ section regularly. Because it doesn’t matter. I also look for unisex brands that don’t stereotype children based on their gender. How is a boy onesie different from a girl onesie, somebody please explain! Or the t-shirts or the pants/leggings?
The prejudices exist in our heads thanks to social conditioning and we need to identify them first. If we think in terms of boys and girls from the time a child is born, we will end up making most choices based on that unconsciously, time and again.
To get back to my personal experience, after getting so many compliments for my daughter’s dressing style, I revealed to my fellow mommies recently that I buy from any section at the store (boys or girls) as long as I love the clothing item.
One of them bought her first from the boys’ section (trendy track pants) for her daughter two weeks back and showed it off to me in style. Well, one mommy at a time.
For now, I am going to check out the entire collection of this famous toddler brand and see how easy it is for them to fool us! And you guys? Be wise. Let me know if you buy something without worrying about which section you are in!
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