Parents Combating Gender Stereotypes in Kids’ Clothing
Shopping for children’s clothing can be stressful. Finding the right size and style, all for a good price? It certainly is a challenge.
But now, more than ever, parents are finding it extra difficult due to the lack of gender-neutral clothing in stores all across the country.
In general, children’s clothing brands have always stuck to a pretty basic color theme: pinks and purples for girls, and blues and greens for boys. However, with society’s evolving interest in gender-neutrality, it is extra difficult to find garb for kids that doesn’t abide by the typical stereotypes.
Kristin Higgens, of Little Rock, is all too familiar with this problem. She has always been cautious of not pushing stereotypes on her daughter. She painted her room green, dressed her up as superheroes, and even gave her Star Wars-themed pajamas. But in order to do this, she always had to go to the boys’ section of the store.
"I want her to just get up and put on the clothing without thinking of putting on a costume, an identity,” Higgens said.
Jo B. Paoletti, a professor of American Studies at the University of Maryland and author of Pink and Blue: Telling the Girls from the Boys in America, says that the issue really began in the late 1980s.
”It encourages very young children — as young as 2 — to judge and interact with others in highly stereotyped ways," she said. "We know, based on nearly 50 years of social science research, that stereotyped thinking hurts all of us, whether we are dealing with racial, gender, or any other form of stereotype."
Fortunately for parents, things are starting to transition. Today, a few retailers, including Lands End and Zara, have followed customer interest by slowly making changes to their apparel. In March, Zara launched a line called “Ungendered,” which includes basics like sweatshirts, T-shirts and jeans. However, with more big retailers not jumping on board fast enough, some parents have actually started their own companies in hopes of making an impact on the clothing industry.
A Seattle mother, Martine Zoer, ended up starting a company called “Quirkie Kids” just because her sons wanted to wear pink. Courtney Hartman, who is also based out of Seattle, launched “Jessy & Jack,” which includes unisex T-shirts with dinosaurs and robots. The retailers starting these lines, in hopes of changing the cultural norms, say they’re definitely seeing the demand thus far. Hartman states that her annual sales are already pushing six-digit figures.
With the barriers of societal stereotypes starting to dissolve, more and more gender-neutral retailers are sure to pop up in the near future. Hopefully by next year's back-to-school shopping term, parents interested in the style changes will have more options for their children.
Source: Fox News, The Huffington Post