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Archive for January 5th, 2012

Becoming an uncle was great until I went to the store to buy a 3-month old child some clothes for Christmas. While I’ve talked in class about gender differences in children’s toys and clothing these issues became even more infuriating as I attempted to find gender-neutral clothing in a children’s store. The “boys'” side of the store consisted almost entirely of dark colored clothing while the “girls'” side was nearly all pink, violet, or white (The Society Pages has an overview of research analyzing how these colors became a part of the zeitgeist). As if this weren’t enough, many of the clothes featured writing indicating that the child was “Grandpa’s little princess” or “Mommy’s little man” or similarly inane statements, which made it more difficult to buy clothes in colors beyond what was intended for each gender.

Discussing this experience with my mom, she noted that when I was born there were two major things that set children’s clothing apart from what exists today: most parents did not know the sex of their child beforehand and many parents actively avoided gender stereotypes in toys and clothing. Thinking about this, it makes sense that some parents who had grown up with the feminist movement in the ’60s were opposed to placing their children in gender-specific boxes in the ’70s and ’80s. Many children of the ’70s and ’80s, on the other hand, appear to have no problem reintroducing the stereotypes that their own parents avoided. It will be interesting to see how the “princess” generation views gender in twenty years. This little girl (that it seems everybody in the world has seen) suggests that they might not be okay with these boxes after all.

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