It’s supposed to be “the end of boys and girls,” as a rah-rah Bloomberg News headline has it: the idea of “gender-neutral” clothing for children that will somehow erase the differences between little Buster and little Emily so you won’t be able to tell them apart. But actually, “gender-neutral” seems to be more like “gender-switching”: sticking your little girl into a T-shirt with a dinosaur and astronauts printed on it and your little boy into a T-shirt that’s….you guessed it, pink:
“‘Most kids and parents are going to the big retailers and seeing all these messages of what its means to be a boy or a girl,’ says Sharon Choksi, co-founder of clothing line Girls Will Be. Choksi’s daughter Maya, now 10, never liked sparkles or “feminine” colors, so the Choksis would shop for Maya in the boys’ section. As Maya got older, Choksi worried that ‘boy’ and ‘girl’ labels would unnecessarily upset her daughter….
“In Seattle, Martine Zoer had similar experiences with her sons. She grew tired of her boys, now four and seven, being pushed merchandise featuring designs of dinosaurs and trucks. In 2014, she founded Quirkie Kids, a label devoted to gender-neutral clothes. There’s nothing wrong with pink or girls liking pink,’ Zoer says. ‘But if we only offer them that choice, there’s something wrong with that.'”
And sure enough, if you visit the T-shirt page of Girls Will Be, it’s all bright boyish blue, bright boyish red, and lime green, printed with airplanes, dinos, rockets, and slogans such as ‘Be awesome.’ And at Quirkie Kids, it’s…lotsa pink. On boys, that is.
What’s behind this mom-driven movement? (I can’t help noticing that all the gender-neutral clothing outfits seem to be run by mothers, not fathers.) Well, first of all, there’s that never-ending push to get more girls into STEM careers whether they like it or not. The idea seems to be that if you get little Bonnie into a T-shirt with a rocket-ship on it, she’ll grow up to be a Nobel physicist.