The Importance of Not Defining Normal for Other Children
There are things in this world that piss me off. I could come up with a bunch of rhetorical examples to lead into my real point, but I’m going to cut to the chase – one really easy way to do that is to write a whole blog post about how hard it is to find “normal” clothes for your daughter, based on the underlying premise that normal clothes are inherently not girly.
But, I can hear the defenders now, he says this: “Once again, let me make this clear—I’m not saying that everything pink and frilly is evil.” Okay, so not evil. But not “normal” either. Pink and frilly is by definition the lesser exception in this framework and “normal” is not embellished, not obviously feminine, not…well, not actual neutral, unless we buy into the completely mainstream not-at-all transgressive idea that neutral=male.
It should surprise no one that I absolutely agree with his underlying premise that the options for girls are too limited. I hate that it is so easy to see where girls and boys are “supposed” to shop – for toys, for clothes, for school supplies, even sporting goods. There is no reason why everything possible that girls might ever want has to be available in pink and only pink, and conversely, for nothing “for boys” to include that color. And I’ll be honest, it makes for lazy parenting even for someone relatively aware of these issues like myself. It would be completely possible for me to surround my pink-loving girl in nothing but that color 24-7 with very little effort, whereas, a kid who likes red or orange or even blue is not always going to be able to get, say, a bow and arrow set in that color. In fact, getting away from pink and purple and a dash of aqua actually takes more effort sometimes, since pink is everywhere. Girls who like pink have it easy in the continuum of getting to have your preferences reinforced all the damn time. There is privilege in conforming with expectations. It is easier to be a child who fits in and who sees themselves in the representation of their gender.
There should be more options for both girls and boys. Hell, up until puberty, there’s really not even much point – other than marketing – to have different sections to begin with. All the clothes together in a big scrum – that works for me. When helping my kids choose clothing, I look at a combination of styles I think they will wear and overall appropriateness with respect to our family values – which means no “born to shop” or “too pretty to wev” or “babe magnet” or “[other gender] drools” messaging for either of them, and play clothes have to allow for actual physical play. If that translates to my 3-year-old scaling a climbing wall in a dress and bike shorts, that’s cool with me.
And no one gets to tell me – or her – that’s not normal. Because for her, it absolutely is.
(Featured image is the feisty child in question. All rights reserved.)