Did you see the news that John Lewis is removing the gender-specific labels from its kids’ clothing ranges?
Hurrah. About time.
Back in 2010, Flea was five years old. Like lots of five year olds, she loved monkeys, monsters and dinosaurs. Her favourite colours were red, blue and green. And stripes. Lots of stripes.
As you’ll know if you’ve visited a children’s clothing retailer in the past 20 years or so, this meant a lot of Flea’s favourite clothes came from the boys’ ranges.
I would tell Flea it was no big deal. “There’s no such thing as girls’ clothes or boys’ clothes. There are just clothes,” I’d say. “When you’re older, men and women have different clothes for different shapes, but kids can wear whatever they like.”
Of course, five year olds have their own logic.
What Flea learned was that she liked “boy clothes”, but she didn’t like “girl clothes”.
She believed this so passionately, in fact, that when I bought her a pair of denim shorts from John Lewis, she refused to wear them. Because they had a label inside that said, “John Lewis Girls”.
So it matters. Those labels might be little, but they matter.
In the end, I had to snip out the label and iron a patch on, to convince Flea to wear the clothes.
We shouldn’t be telling little girls that if they want to wear monkeys and stripes, that’s not what girls do. In exactly the same way, if a boy loves a pink t-shirt or cute kittens, then that’s not anything that’s not typically “boyish”.
I had strangers tell me online that Flea was probably gay. Seriously?
For starters, it wouldn’t matter if Flea is gay. These outfits wouldn’t be what made her that way. They made her happy and confident, and comfortable. Which is the ONLY thing that matters when it comes to kids’ clothes. Isn’t it?
Little kids are basically the same shape regardless of gender. And it’s 2017. We’re surely evolved enough to know that colours and motifs and slogans aren’t more relevant to someone because of their gender.
My only question is why it took John Lewis so long? And when are other retailers going to follow suit?