Dresses Are For Anyone
Posted on 05 October 2015
When I first started researching gender-neutral (or, unisex) clothing, I was struck by how many people and companies interpreted 'gender-neutral' as meaning the same as 'masculine'. Dresses and skirts were never included in 'gender-neutral' clothing lines. A perfect example of this is Ellen De'Generes' new GAP clothing range that was launched last month - I initially nodded in delight when reading the headlines, but then I read futher: it was a "gender-neutral" clothing range for girls. Whaaaaaaaaaat? This is a complete oxymoron! As soon as you specify the clothes are for a particular gender, they cease being 'gender-neutral'.
Because really, NO clothes have any gender. It is us adults who place gender on items of clothing. Some time early last century "we" decided that pink = girls and blue = boys. There is nothing inherently feminine or masculine about either of those colours, it is simply a cultural construct. And more recently, many (but not all!) cultures decided that skirts = only girls. Again, there is nothing inherently feminine about skirts, this notion is simply a cultural construct.
There is something very insidious about claiming that gender-neutral things can't be pink, or that dresses or skirts can't not be included in a gender-neutral range. What this means is that we are reverting to the tired old stereotypes and male-domination of 'normal'. That there are 'normal' colours, and then there are 'girly' colours. There are 'normal' clothes, and their are 'girly' clothes. Clothes are clothes and kids should not be restricted in the colours and styles they wear based on their genitalia.
Some children, regardless of gender, love to wear pink and floaty dresses. And that is great! Some kids refuse to ever wear a skirt and hate pink - that is great too! Some kids will be in their pink floaty dress in the morning, and their brown trousers and blue t-shirt in the afternoon - totally great also! It is about choice, and about giving kids the freedom to be who they want to be.
It would be hypocritical of me to say "girls can wear anything!", whilst at the same time saying "but boys can't wear dresses!". We opened our shop this morning and sold a total of five dresses: of these, two have been purchased for boys. We're working on getting more images in our store that help break down the clothing gender stereotypes. Let's not narrow kids choices - dresses are for anyone!
We have a growing collection of dresses here - happily worn by kids of any gender :). We are working on getting more plain dresses, and we have some cool ones arriving soon with PLANETS on them!
Image: From http://pursuitist.com/men-in-kilts-talking-fashion-with-howie-nicholsby-kilt-maker-to-the-stars/.