If aliens were to do reconnaissance on humans by browsing a children’s clothing store, they’d conclude that the males of the species love animals and physical activity whilst the females enjoy sitting around looking pretty. Butterflies and bunnies are as wild as it gets for the girls. Not that there’s anything wrong with butterflies and bunnies, but the narrow range of images on baby girls’ clothes serves to perpetuate the myth that girls are made of sugar and spice (and unfortunately, sexiness), in opposition to boys.
I’ve had the opportunity to shop for baby clothes a few times in the past couple months. Nowhere is the gender policing stricter than in children’s clothing and toy stores. Adults project narrow roles onto children before they’re able to hold their heads up. Puppies can only be found on boys’ onesies and overalls; the same goes for jungle animals. I suppose that’s because boys are uniquely playful and adventurous whilst girls are dainty and demure. Oh, wait…
Girls like puppy dog tails, do they not? Generally they can choose outfits and toys in colors ranging from rose to fuscia. Boy clothing ensures that no one will ever question your little baby’s masculinity. “This tot loves construction machinery! Don’t dare mistake him for a GIRL!” the t-shirts scream.
The gendering of color is particularly interesting when you consider the fact that pink was once considered a boy color and blue a girl color.
But heaven help you if the recipient of your baby gift does not know the sex of her gestating baby. You will have to venture into the miniscule section of newborn clothes not designated “boy” or “girl” (based on color and theme, of course) to choose something yellow or green. Those who later come in contact with the newborn will be terribly confused by the absence of clear gender signifiers; it’s amusing and depressing.
Of course, one can always cross over to the other sex’s section to broaden one’s selection. But wouldn’t a more gender-neutral, diverse array of clothing for all children be preferable?