I want some dungarees for Harriet. Just some plain denim dungarees. Not ones covered in bows and sequins.
I want some training shoes for her too. Just some plain, white training shoes. Not ones covered in sparkly stars or ones with glitter laces.
As a result, and as usual, I find myself shopping for her in the boys section.
The girls section in most shops frustrates me. There are so many sparkles and glitter-soaked outfits that my eyes struggle to focus and the colour palette shows as much variation as there is inbetween baby pink and fuschia.
I’ve got nothing against pink, glitter or sparkles. I’m not out to make a big political or societal point. I’m not bringing up Harriet in a ‘gender neutral’ environment. I just want to have a choice about what to buy her without having to venture into the boys section, and for her to have the same choice when she’s a little older without being phased by whether they’re girls or boy clothes.
Today Harriet’s having a pink, girlie dress kind of day but tomorrow it could just as easily be jeans and primary colours. I like mixing it up.
There was a lot of hoo-ha when John Lewis launched its ‘Girls & Boys’ range but to many people, me included, it was a breath of fresh air. Why shouldn’t girls be able to have tops with dinosaurs on them without them being made with boys in mind?
Stereotyped boys and girls clothes are obviously nothing new. In fact, you probably have to go back to the frills and big knickers days of Edwardian times for real gender neutral baby clothes. I just naively thought that more people would be thinking like me now and that retailers would be responding to that shift, but it hasn’t really happened on any real scale. I don’t even think it needs anything drastic, perhaps just starting with less demarcation between boy and girl sections and a broadening of the colour palette.
Then on the other hand I’m wondering why I’m bothered. So what if I have to go into the boys section… but then my mind whirrs. Is it a metaphor for something bigger? These clothes signify what ‘being a girl’ is. You’re limited. For anything else you have to brave a boys’/mans’ world…
Is there something in that or have I just OD-ed on sparkles?