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Gender neutral clothes

The gender neutral argument is starting to lose its way and the plot.

I’m a feminist, I want equal opportunities and I absolutely hate gender stereotyping, and for that matter stereotyping of any kind.

But the news this week that John Lewis has stopped labelling its kids clothing as “boys” or “girls” made me roll my eyes.

It’s not that I think it causes any problems, I just don’t really see the point. It doesn’t do anything to further the feminist movement or help to stop pigeon-holing young girls.

Here are the main reasons why I think this move doesn’t address the issues at hand:

The message

My key problem with children’s clothing isn’t that it’s divided into boys and girls clothes, it’s the slogans and suggestion that come with the designs.

For example, you get boys tops with dinosaurs, planets and catchy can-do slogans, then you get girls tops with #fashion and “Born to be a Princess”.

The clothes state that boys are little scientists and astrologers while girls are wannabe WAGs.

Take the gender labels off, the clothes still say these sexist things and it’s still wrong to put these kind of limiting and shallow slogans on any child.

Colour

The issue isn’t that the clothes are separated into blue or pink.

I wear pink, does that mean I’m asking for my arse to be pinched, that my husband rules the roost, that I can never hope to be promoted above men in my career? No it doesn’t. It means I like wearing pink.

I’m still a clever, self-asserting, mostly confident woman who knows her own mind.

It’s our attitude that dictates blue is for boys and pink is for girls. Our attitude that says pink means weak and blue means strong. So let’s just change that attitude.

I put my girls in blue frequently, I think they look great.

Expression of creativity

The way we dress is often an expression of our own personalities. My husband wants to wear a shirt when we go out, I want to wear a nice dress.

This step towards unisex clothing could take away from that creativity of dressing.

What we are drawn to

When I was growing up my mum couldn’t get me in to a dress if she paid me.

Now I yearn to wear my dresses more frequently, but sadly they’re not toddler play appropriate!

You can ditch the gender labels, but mums will still want to out their baby girls in pretty dresses. Sorry, but it’s just the truth. Not all mums, obviously. In fact I love dressing my girls in joggers and dungarees, they definitely don’t have totally frilly, girly wardrobes.

We’re reducing a huge issue to a very tiny detail

The gender divide does not come down to what clothes we wear.

It does not come down to whether my husband wears a suit or I wear a dress.

It does not come down to whether I wear pink or blue to an interview.

It does not come down to my heel height.

It is a far more entrenched issue than that. Can we focus instead on equality in the workplace, teaching healthy attitudes at school and encouraging a wide variety of opportunities for young girls.

Does it matter if they’re wearing pink to science class? No, it matters that they’re excelling and have the right opportunities laid out in front of them.

So, sorry John Lewis, but I don’t think much of this move. I’ll still be buying your clothes, though it sounds like I’ll have to root around to find the cute dresses. Are they going to be hung next to the toy vacuum cleaners?

What do you think of the move by John Lewis to ditch gender labels? Is it a good idea? Will it make any difference to gender stereotyping?

I would love to hear what you think.

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