Friday, 8 September 2017

Is He Just A Big Girl's Blouse**?

John Lewis has become the first UK retailer to remove gender labels from its children’s clothing. 
The department store chain has not only taken “girls” and “boys” labels from clothes, but has also done away with the separate sections in stores. John Lewis own-brand children clothing will now simply say “Girls & Boys” or “Boys & Girls.” The clothing style hasn’t changed – you’ll still find floral dresses and skirts, but the retailer is simply proving the point that they can be worn by both girls and boys. 
They’ve also launched a new unisex clothing line for children, featuring dinosaur print dresses and spaceship tops.
Well good for them, I say - 35 years after I struggled to dress my girls, Liz is facing many of the same issues with Rosie. Boys' trousers come in sensible dark colours, and have reinforced knees. Girls' trousers are in pinks and lilacs, with impractical frills on the bottom. Boys' teeshirts are plain grey - stylish, French chic. Girls' ones are embellished with little flowers and butterflies and bows which catch every morsel of dropped dinner, and lace which snags and tears. 
I purchased a teeshirt in M&S the day Rosie was born, and the assistant was most concerned that it had a car on it - what if the baby is a girl? Because, of course, women can't drive properly, can they? [Actually, statistics don't support this myth]
Women have been great inventors, paleontologists, explorers, drivers and scientists, and architects - and men have been gifted botanists, artists, jewellers, butterfly collectors, musicians, and cake makers. Your gender does not define your career or your interests.
So why can't people be more laid back about this?
We didn't do a lot of Disney stuff in our home - but I know many families who have every Disney DVD, and they can sing all the words to 'Let It Go' etc. It seems particularly mean that little boys are unable to access the Princess for a Day experience at Disneyland should they want to [Prince for a Day is apparently not an option] 
Imho this is nothing to do with the LGBT issue - it is about children wearing clothes that enable them to be themselves, and to be well rounded children - whether that's sturdy garments for clambering, climbing and crawling - or pretty clothes for imaginative, colourful and creative roleplay.
In the wake of the JL announcement, Tory MP Andrew Bridgen said: “I have no idea what would possess John Lewis to do this. Boys and girls labels and signs are informative. I think removing them could be very confusing for the consumer” I cannot get over this remark. How insulting to the intelligence of the consumers!! Is he suggesting that a Conservative Nanny from the Shires might come up to Oxford Street to buy little Sixtus Rees Mogg an outfit and accidentally purchase a pink frilly dress, or thoughtlessly get his sister Mary a navy teeshirt with a tractor on the front...
**Big Girl's Blouse was an expression coined by comedienne Hylda Baker in the 1960s, meaning a weak and ineffectual person. Not sure that I understand why. 


  1. One step further for JL would be to have a children's department with no gender labels at all. I am so with you, Angela, on the labelling at an early age of gender specific roles/clothes. Fortunately our daughter grew up with a dad who showed her by example that you could do/achieve anything-people constantly told him it was a pity we only had a girl! I agree that many clothes still focus on the rough and tumble element for boys and the frilly, pretty element for girls-my late MIL made lots of plain, srviceable clothes for my daughter when she was small. Hope you're settled at work but I well remember the start of the year when exhaustion seemed a constant state. I'm off to teach a voluntary sewing class where one of the ladies has dementia and we're all helping her as best we can to stay part of our wee group. Happy weekend. Catriona

  2. As a mum on a budget my kiddies wear whatever we have. Im not only gender neutral I'm season neutral. We wear Christmas jumpers and jammies year round too.

  3. When I was expecting my child, I knitted several neutral colored items which could be worn by either a boy or a girl. Once my daughter was born, I knitted her a dress in blue, although she had plenty of pink and frilly items, too! She grew up playing with trucks and was very into dinosaurs. I like the idea of gender-neutral clothes.


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