“A boy should be able to dress like a ice dancer OR a NASCAR driver if he wants to.”

This is a comment by Tom B. on the post “Buying Boys’ Underwear For My Daughter”.

Tom writes about the strict dichotomy of how clothing is marketed to young girl and boys and how it contributes to gender stereotypes from an early age.

(And the weird part is it doesn’t stop at that age—it happens even in adult clothing. See our own Joanna Schroeder swap clothing with her husband in their switcheroo photo experiment.)

Tom B. said:

That’s awesome. I’m going to have to get my daughter some Angry Bird underwear. She’d love them.

The big thing that bothers me isn’t the sheer fact that they make “girly” or “super-masculine” clothes for girls and boys. If a kid wants to be dress uber-frilly or dress like a lumberjack, more power to them. Sparkily princess dresses and Lightning McQueen tracksuits both deserve to exist (I guess).

What bothers me is how limited and narrow gender marketing makes clothing options for young kids. Clothing manufacturers seemingly can’t imagine a world where a young girl or boy might want BOTH options available to them. A boy should be able to dress like a ice dancer OR a NASCAR driver if he wants to. But those options simply aren’t made available by a lot of the major chain stores. (Gender neutral kids’ clothes do exist, but they’re sometimes hard to find and/or really expensive.)

Heck, I tried to buy my daughter a winter coat at Old Navy and every single option was either pink, purple, or covered in rhinestones and/or fake fur. Why couldn’t I just buy her a green coat? Or a brown one? There is just a disturbing lack of non-gender marketing clothing options available for kids these days.

And I refuse to accept that the reasons for the limited gender options are purely economic. If there are studies out there, I’d love to see them, but I’ve NEVER seen Avengers or race car clothing made for girls. I doubt that there’s any sales data out there that suggests that Star wars underwear for six year old girls simply won’t sell.

Robert – I say just take your daughter to Target and let her go hogwild in the boys underwear aisle. They fit fine – maybe a tiny bit baggy – they’re comfortable, and my daughter ADORES them. She’s the envy of all the girls in her class who wish they could have their own pair of LEGO Star Wars underwear too. 

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  1. Quote from the article:
    “There’s a pack of boys’ DC Superhero underwear that only has the logos of various superheroes on them. Why couldn’t they make those for girls? If the Superman “S” or the Batman bat symbol can appear on boys’ undies, why can’t you stick the same logo on girls’ undies and just call them Supergirl and Batgirl underwear? ”

    But they make superhero briefs for women, so why not for young girls? I’m not sure if adding links to those pics would be proper, but a google image search can quickly yield those results (in fact, google suggested it without me even finishing typing) And those aren’t specific to the super-heroines either, but Batman, Superman, Spider-Man… This makes no sense, not having them for your girls.

    And yes, I have no children yet, so I was completely ignorant of this issue. Hopefully it changes before my own “ver. 2.0” arrives

  2. The only agenda folks in the rag trade have is to produce what sells…
    To,suggest anything else is to be a fellow traveller of the “Truthers”
    And what sells is what parents buy…..
    And when my kids were very young my concern was buying something they might not want to poop in.

    • John Smith says:

      To true. It’s not some sexist ajenda, it is what the company can make a proffit off baised on marked reasearch and focus groups. Unfortunatly there are not enough girls who do want “boys” clothes and no matter how hip and forward thinking you are kids will bully each other and within seconds of friends seeing another boy wearing an ice dancer outfit he will soon decide it has to go and he hates it.

      • @John-
        “Why is it unfortunate that girls don’t want to wear boys clothes…
        Not trying to give you trouble…
        1/2 the kids I see wear unisex clothes- pajama pant, really? Athletic shorts and Tshirts, running shoes and sweats…
        The only experience I have of girls wearing boys clothes is the best baseball player I ever coached- a young woman who dressed in a baseball uniform, almost exclusively, for a few years… “that’s Mattie” the boys said…. But there was one thing that bothered me, she hit & fielded like a ball player, chatted & cheered in the dugout & on the field… Then it dawned on me, she never checked her package…

  3. wellokaythen says:

    Sounds good to me. (I don’t have kids, so what the heck?)

    I’d go one step further and change the Boolean to an “and/or” instead of a big fat “OR.” Kids ought to be allowed to do both at once or a combination or neither one. Why not a race car driver AND ice dancer if the boy wants? There’s probably not a NASCAR costume combined with an ice dancer outfit yet, but I can easily imagine one coming soon to a rink near you. Once you go pro as a figure skater, you need sponsors, right? So why not some sequined patches all over your body?

    There is a perfectly traditionally-masculine-friendly hybrid available: the boy can dress as a hockey player.

    I know ice dancing is not the same as figure skating, but if you look at what the pairs do in figure skating, it looks like an overtly heterosexual interaction, if that’s what you’re worried about. If they could actually simulate humping each other during a triple spin, they would do so.

    • wellokaythen says:

      P.S. I know how terrible a skater I am. It’s disastrous enough that I could use gloves, a helmet, and fireproof clothing.

  4. Richard Aubrey says:

    All okay until one of the terminally hip parents forces the kid to dress across gender lines to look progressive at the playground.

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