Breaking the Gender Norms of Children's Clothing

In our modern world we have progressed in a huge number of ways. However, children’s clothing is not one of them. It remains traditional, distinctly separated by gender. Just about every store you walk into whether you are in search of babies or children's clothing you are faced with two sections one blue and one pink. The differences between boys and girls clothing is not just colour. Gender is also signified through the images, words and fabric. Most brands don’t want to risk rocking the boat and continue to abide by these traditional gender views. This is often because babies and children's clothing is purchased by grandparents, an older generation who share these traditional points of view. Yet, these gender stereotypes can have an incredibly dangerous effect on young, impressionable minds (D’Innocenzio, 2016).

Image sourced from Shutterstock.

Colour is the most obvious element of children's clothing traditions. The pink and blue stereotype is something we enforce upon young ones from birth and dates back to the 1940s. Pink is deemed to be feminine and blue mascluine. When looking at colour as a whole within kids clothing, boys clothing is made in darker colours and girls in paler colours which are more likely to get dirty when playing outside. As such this can encourage kids to behave in highly stereotyped ways. Boys play outside and girls play inside so they don’t get their pretty, pale clothes dirty. How one dresses has a huge impact on how one acts and thinks including children, even if it’s something they are not aware of yet (Clemence, 2018).

Fabric is the least obvious element that promotes gender differences in children's clothing. The use of different materials influences us on an unconscious level. Boys clothing is usually made of hard wearing fabrics, that are comfortable and provide ease of movement. On the other hand girls clothing typically consists of lightweight fabric and often uncomfortable additions such as tulle and sequins which are highly impractical. Again, this is associated with the ancient thought process that girls should be pretty and are there to decorate (Augustoni, 2018). This isn’t to say girls should never be allowed to dress up, there should just be options available. On the flip side boys should also be allowed the chance to dress up, wear bright colours and express themselves in any way they please. The important part is to provide a variety of options available to all children including clothes that are comfortable, practical, fun and dressy.

Bundarra’s kids clothes are perfect for playing and perfect for girls and boys. Check out our kids polo range here.

The images and words used on kids clothes also play a huge role in creating gendered differences. Pictures and motifs can play a huge role in defining children’s interests. Girls clothing features animals that are cute and fluffy and if they do include wild animals they often appear domesticated. While over in the boys section the animals appear fierce, wild and athletic. This creates an expectation of bravery and boldness from boys, which places a lot of pressure on young boys to be masculine. These kinds of messages can also be expressed in a far more obvious way, with words. The words used are often scarily sexist and create a clear separation of characteristics and expectations of boys and girls. On girls clothing you can find phrases such as “keep on smiling” while boys say things such as “be brave”. For both boys and girls this immediately creates expectations that dictate their behaviour (Augustoni, 2018). 

Sea Turtle Baby Tee - from Bundarra’s new Baby Range

Here at Yarn we are very excited to announce the launch of Lore Clothing CO.'s Baby Range. The collection includes baby onesies, tees, singlets and bibs featuring gorgeous designs by Yarli Creative. All of the designs are perfect for baby boys and girls. They represent growth and connection to country and culture. One example is the design “Sea Turtle” or “Moira Bayadhera” in Yorta Yorta Language. The story goes:

“This little baby Moira Bayadhera is entering the world. Excited and ready for what is to come. Eager to learn and create experiences, learn from its family and become big and strong.”

This gorgeous design shares an important message, it encourages all children to grow, explore, learn and most importantly be excited about life and the new experiences that are to come. While our new baby range does include some traditional pastel colours we strongly encourage choosing any of the colours for any gender. Society relies too heavily on colour to distinguish gender. Let's start to defy gender norms particularly when it comes to colour. Slowly menswear has begun to incorporate pink, there’s no reason boys clothing can’t too.

Check out the beautiful new baby range here.

All of our kids' clothes are perfect for boys and girls. check out the collection here.