Children deserve the opportunity to choose their own clothing based on their aesthetic preferences.
Every evening I lay out clothes for my children to wear the next day for school. My son is 7, and my daughter is 4. Given the selection of clothes in the girls department of Target, most items are purple, pink, and shimmer in broad daylight. From ages 0 to 4, my daughter has been fine wearing "girl choices." Suddenly, she is not OK wearing a pink long-sleeved shirt that reads "Girls Rock." She is disappointed by sporting a purple shirt with matching glittery sparkles that reads "My BFF."
Instead, she would rather wear my son's Star Wars shirt or his light blue vintage shirt from the '80s that reads "I'm the big brother." The irony of this statement is lost on her since she can't read yet. My girl declines gender-typical clothing in favor of a blue and white hooded sweatshirt.
And you know what? I don't blame her. Flashback to the mid-1980s. I was 4 years old. I wanted to do everything that my brother did. That included dressing like him. My brother and I would run around Fire Island, New York — a beach community in Long Island where no cars are allowed. He would be wearing swim trunks and no shirt. I would be wearing...you guessed it: swim trunks sans shirt. I didn't understand the societally-imposed standard that girls were required to cover their top. My parents tried to get me to wear a full-piece swimsuit and I refused.
"He gets to wear no shirt and that's not fair," I whined.
Eventually, they relented and let me parade around in swim trunks, topless. I was only 3, and they were surrounded by hippies in this tiny beach community, so they didn't really care all that much.
It's now 2015 and I have my own children. History is repeating itself. After several battles to keep a shirt on my daughter, I finally gave up and just let her wear her brother's clothes. I don't have time to argue with a 4-year-old in the morning. We need to get to school.
But it got me thinking: Why are there boys and girls sections in department stores like Target? What about the girl who doesn't want to wear a pink sparkly dress? She wants to wear a blue shirt with the truck on it. What about the boy who wants to wear a pink shirt with purple stripes? Is he not allowed to do that because it's in the "girls" section?
Recently, a Facebook post of a little boy wearing an Elsa costume went viral. His father wrote that he was supportive of his son's wardrobe choice.
Seeing that picture and the words associated with it made me smile, because it reminded me of my opinionated little 4-year-old.
Something doesn't sit right with me about the gender specific clothing in large chain stores. I propose that we do away with "boys" and "girls" sections of stores and replace them with a "kids" section. Children deserve the opportunity to choose their own clothing based on their aesthetic preferences.
It is society that imposes these gender-specific standards on children's clothing. Children would be happy to wear what appeals to them naturally.
Who is with me?