Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Wrong Kind of Clothes

Rachel's Tavern has a new post on her blog entitled "Gender and Baby Boys Clothes".

When my daughter was a baby, I loved to dress her in basketball jerseys, denim, and those shell-toed tennis shoes with the thick laces. I was a hip hop head and I liked the way those clothes looked on her. My older brother was very critical about the fact that I just wasn't concerned about making her look like some sort of baby doll. He would go out and buy expensive (and highly gendered) Carter's outfits just to try and get me to change how I dressed her. I was a poor single mom then and so I did dress her in what he bought because it saved me from having to spend as much of my quite-limited funds on clothes.

Still, when I did dress her up in the stuff that I bought, I can't tell you how many times people told me things like "Now you know she's too pretty to be dressed like that!" and "She's so bald at the top, when you dress her like that, people are going to think she's a boy." I wasn't a feminist then but it did aggravate me that people couldn't see her clothes as acceptable or appropriate simply because they were the "wrong" style. Somewhere around the apartment, I have a picture of her all dressed up in one of her jerseys. I'll have to find it and post it.


Lisa Harney said...

Hate the way children are treated in gendering ways. Not that is that we treat them as girls or boys, but that gendering boys as girls or girls as boys is somehow seen as a hellish fate.

I wish people raised their children with fewer expectations about gender. :(

shiva said...

I'd go a bit further than that, and say that no one should be gendering any child as anything, until that child is old/articulate enough to decide and make clear what (if any) gender ze hirself wants to be.

Kids below the age of puberty don't have differentiated enough body shapes to justify gender-differentiated clothing styles on any grounds other than those of social stereotyping anyway...

Daisy said...

My kid was born with a lot of hair (as I was too), so I would braid her hair and put cutesy ribbons in, then then go ahead and dress her like a boy! (having my cake and eating it too!) But really, the little baseball jerseys and baby-boy's corduroys looked so cute with long hair and braids! I still got plenty of grief for it from my family, though, because I thought those ultra-femme baby-dresses sucked and I wouldn't dress her like that.

Later, when she would only wear punk clothes, I was blamed for that!

But my kid? She thanked me profusely. ;)