Thursday, January 22, 2009

I am having a baby in July and have started to window shop children's clothes online. It's become apparent that we enforce gender on children, babies can't choose their clothes but most of them fall into a gender category. Take the Adams site, they have clothes for baby girls in pinks and reds and cream, clothes for baby boys in blues and greens and oranges and clothes for any baby in cream and beige. It's pretty deplorable, I love the colour blue but apparently if I have a newborn girl I'm not meant to dress her that way? It's exactly the same at other large retailers like Mamas and Papas and Mothercare is only a little better. Thank you then world for giving me Nordic Kids which creates clothing for all children in the brightest, best colours with lovely patterns! What a relief!


Alice said...

Yeah it's an odd one, for sure.

Marked/unmarked categories. Baby dressed in non-pink = assumed to be boy. Baby looks different!

Baby dressed in pink/flowery = baby assumed to be girl. Baby *looks* more delicate, 'pretty', etc as brain fills in gendering info.

Whats's the correct balance to dress a baby girl in?? I am working on the assumption that it is sufficient 'pink/flowery' that she gets some of the 'female' self-identity conditioning and enough non-marked 'neutral/male' clothes that she will also internalise the unmarked 'human being' category.

Nina said...

I think I'm going to go as gender neutral as possible. Once they can talk they can choose what they want to wear and their own identity whether it's feminine or masculine.

Olulabelle said...

Alice, I don't think it matters at all, I'm sure babies don't become aware of their gender on the basis of whether they are wearing pink and flowers! Babies don't seem to care either way and are happy to wear clothes designed for either gender. They mainly want to nom things! The same goes with toys. It's only when they get to school age I think they really start to notice what the 'norm' is.

My cousin Jake asked for a proper party dress when he was little, which my cousin bought him, but some people who came to the house got really weird about it.

Nina I love that Nordic Kids site. My mum got quite a lot of stuff from mini boden second-hand on ebay which doesn't really seem to lean either way with the colour gender references. I just avoided anything pale blue and just bought green and red and yellow and royal blue and things like that. I don't think solly has a single thing which is gender biased in design. My favourite things for him are a purple cardigan and purple stripy leg warmers which you wear instead of trousers when eating your feet is your main pastime!

You wait until you get to school and you see that ALL the girls are wearing pink coats. Honestly, I'm not exaggerating. I don't know when the world suddenly became so prescriptive for little girls but it certainly has.

Brockley Nick said...

Mini Boden's pretty good I think?

Nina said...

They certainly do fantastic bloomers but still quite gender specific!

Alice said...

Well, that was my view until I became the mother of a girl baby. The experience changed my perspective a lot. I think it might be because male is the unmarked and female is the marked category - you know like white is often the unmarked and black the marked category when people are describing skin tones?

Before being her mother I assumed I was going to do all neutral clothes. The observations about how gendering is working on her through my brain and the brains of the others who interact with her has really amazed me and made me reconsider.