Opening any fashion magazine and checking the contents list, will undoubtedly reveal a feature on gender neutral clothing. We have accepted girl-meets-boy, boy-meets-girl fashion and understand that we can’t judge the sex of millennials by their clothes!
Yet our obsession with gender appropriate clothes for children shows no signs of wavering. Pink for a girl, blue for a boy! Is it just tradition or is it time for a baby backlash? Women were not afraid to wear the trousers back in the 1920s, so maybe it is time for baby to throw their toys out of the pram and demand equal rights on wearing pink or blue!
Did you know that the “think pink” fashion advice for girls did not occur until the 1940s? Indeed prior to that time, various publications had actually suggested pink as the colour for boys and blue for girls! Yet whilst gender specific clothing for children started to advance, it took a u turn during the 70s and did not really find a stronghold until 1985!
It is not coincidence that at this time, scientific advances had made it possible for parents to find out the sex of a baby before it was born. And here lies the turn key! Parents no longer shopped for a new baby, they shopped for a girl or a boy! This was a massive opportunity for consumerism! Gender specific products meant that parents felt the need to buy pink blankets, pink moses baskets and if baby number two was a boy….they would need to replace the whole lot! For who knows what would happen to a girl that wore a pink babygrow, right?
The Boy In the Dress
Traditionalists may argue that the hype of gender neutral this and that is akin to cross dressing, but they would be historically incorrect. Back in 1880 and beyond, it was completely normal for a boy up to the age of seven to wear a white dress! Indeed all children wore the same white dresses!
Whilst today we might cringe at the combination of a white cotton dress and baby food, which is always seemingly orange, back then it was practical as it meant it could be easily bleached.
There is a growing need for children’s gender neutral clothing and the gender binary is being broken. We are increasingly aware of not putting children into boxes when it comes to learning or behaviour, so why do it with clothing? After all, everything is not always black and white.