This week, news broke that John Lewis made drastic changes to the way they label their kids clothes. A store that once housed segregated racks of pinks and blues labelled as ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ now boasts an array of clothes just labelled as ‘Boys & Girls’. Together. As one. The first UK retailer to do this.
This. Is. Huge.
Although it really shouldn’t. This should be our normality.
Let me make it clear that this move from John Lewis ISN’T about removing children of their gender or about putting boys in dresses (although, that’s still ok!). It’s about removing harmful stereotypes related to gender from the eyes of children. Where girls are limited to being “pretty in pink” and boys are adventurers and explorers.
Folks like Mothercare, Next, and supermarkets are all still guilty of this, with girls being restricted to slogans around their beauty and ‘sparkle’, and boys being given the choice to be scientists or enjoy their favourite comic hero.
When we looked at tops sold in Mothercare, there were over 20 STEM (Science Technology, Engineering and Maths) themes sold as “boys t-shirts” and not one for girls. The idea that boys and not girls will be more inclined towards Science themes is harmful to girls AND boys, and is insulting to all the Women who have forged a path in STEM fields.
Let Clothes Be Clothes. Read More
A Divisive Move?
Unsurprisingly, there are several arguments against John Lewis and gender neutral clothing. From those that completely oppose it; stating that boys should remain in their jeans and joggers, and blues and greens, as that’s “what boys like”. Similarly, to people who just can’t seem to expand on what “boys” clothing should look like.
@LesBeMums Just wanted to say your little boy is beautiful, but he is dressed as a boy in boys clothing.
— lorraine (@lorrainewatmou1) September 4, 2017
Other opinions state that gender neutral clothing is a step too far and that if they (a parent) want to buy their child clothing from the opposite gender section, they will. The latter is step forward, I agree, but I still disagree with the sentiment.
the label shouldn’t be there.
It’s all well and good parents buying their daughters clothing from the boys section and visa versa, but what happens when their daughter suddenly starts to question where their clothes come from? Or when they see from huge posters that the clothes they’re wearing are marketed solely for boys? How do you think it’ll make them feel?
Sure, you may be one of the few lucky ones where your daughter doesn’t care. Brilliant! But you’re a minority, sadly. Some aren’t so lucky. So many parents reach a point in their child’s life where they’re having to explain why there aren’t any rockets in the girls section and that it’s ok to wear stuff from the “boys”section. They’re struggling because a damn label has told the child otherwise.
I’m a little bit in love with these leggings from @zara. They may be size 3-4 but I couldn’t wait any longer to get T in them. Plus, although I’d like to one day see clothes that are just labelled as ‘kids’, I’m really pleased to see a high-street store finally accepting that boys wear leggings too (these are labelled ‘baby boy’).
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If you are one of the lucky ones where your child doesn’t care, great. But surely having to go to the “girls” section to buy your son some comfy leggings must frustrate him and you? I worry about it with T. That he’ll one day learn that we’ve been putting him in “girls” clothes and not want to wear the clothes anymore – and that’s ok, but it’s not if he’s made that choice through senseless and outdated advertising. There will be nothing we could do or say if T suddenly decides that he doesn’t like wearing “girls clothes” – even though there really isn’t anything wrong with it! So why not just avoid the labels all together?
So, thank you, John Lewis. You’ve made a huge step in the direction of appropriate labelling.
Let’s hope other stores start to follow… suit (see what I did there?)