Size to fit: why gender-neutral children’s clothing for more than pink and blue t-shirts running

The Dutch retail chain HEMA is going all geslachtsaanduidingen of children’s clothing to scrap, writes the Volkskrant. That is a good thing, and not only because also boys once a Frozen-t-shirt.

© Hema

Garments are economic products. It is therefore almost logical that they would heavily be labeled so as to respond to the needs of the customer and the identity with which they identify. Boxes also make it shopproces a lot more efficient, it sounds during the marketingvergadering. The male section, the female section. Size 36 or 44. Rock Chic or Casual Everyday. It seems liberating, but it works choking and luckily the signal to a more neutral environment by more and more retailers picked up. Among others, Zara, Selfridges, Guess, Cloakroom and Burberry came up with (an attempt at) a gender-neutral clothing range on the market – significant initiatives that, according to some, the core of the problem, not addressing: how we are raised with the notion that there is such a thing as different clothing for men and for women.

The struggle around gender-neutral children’s clothing is not as heavily lined as those around genderneutraal toys, but they live on different ouderschapsfora and even has a historical basis.

‘Blue is soft and delicate’

For centuries it was children’s clothing made from white fabric, because you could could whitening and so it was easy to there are stains to remove, so writes historian Jo B. Paoletti for the Smithsonian magazine. Until the age of six, both boys and girls in white dresses dressed. Even when the pastel colours appeared on the scene in the fabrics for children’s clothing were not gender-specific. Only in 1918 was the editor of the American Ladies’ Home Journal magazine the time to color to be seen. It published an often cited article which stated that pink for boys and blue for girls. Blue was considered to be the more soft, delicate color, while pink the stronger color. In addition, it was blue for girls, through its association with the Virgin Mary in the art.

© iStock

After the Second world War was that color distribution, however, revised. Rosie The Riveter should be strongly held in a blue everywhere, while her husband at the front was, once he returned home, she could her place at the hearth here, in clothing that is ultra feminine, with floral prints and playful details, with bloesemroze as one of the most important tones in the post-war feminine color palette.

All marketing

The reclameboom of the eighties reinforced this idea even more. Parents could, thanks to prenatal testing, the gender of the baby find out before the birth and therefore, as much as possible baby jackets who fit the boy or the girl that their lives would join. Marketers were great, and gegenderde products complete with colour codes were only a way to the cash register to ring. Who, after all, first a boy and then a girl got, could be quite impossible, the poor child in the blue stuff of her brother?

This trend continued steadily forward, and girl dress was decorated with “cute” and “sweet” pictures such as kitties, princesses, and strawberries, while the clothes on the jongensafdeling decorated with dinosaurs, airplanes, and superheroes.

It seems innocent enough, but our little ones from very young age in pens cross has indeed a large impact. “Children take the message very quickly and form a picture of the world, based on what they see in the toy and clothes department. That image translate them to their ideas about gender roles and characteristics,” says professor Megan Fulcher to The New York Times. Even when you as an active parent, your daughter, as such, bring up that they feel a batmantrui should go get on the jongensafdeling, your daughter be confronted with the horde: they that on the jongensafdeling go get. In addition, the genderverdeling in the kinderkledingindustrie much further than prints, colors and details like a lace collar.

Girl dress is already at a young age, smaller and narrower

Girl dress is often a lot less than clothes meant for boys of the same age. “When I first became a mother, I got a lot of clothes from friends whose baby was older. Although the pieces pretty gegenderd were with bows or trains, was the still same: a onesie for an infant of six months remained a onesie for an infant of six months”, writes Katherine DM Clover on the popular platform Parent.Co.

“At one point, however, that is stopped. When your little one reaches a certain age, the sizes between boys and girl dress completely different. My son currently carries shirts of the jongensafdeling in size 2T (92-98 cm), but when we go before him with the girl dress go shopping, we need to ensure a 3T meegrissen (98-104 cm).” A remarkable statement on several different blogs to see come back, and that was confirmed when our editorial was fact-checking on the children’s ward of popular stores like H&M, Uniqlo and Hema. Who is a t-shirt from the girls section against a t-shirt of the jongensafdeling in the same ‘size’ loved, saw a substantial difference in length and width between the two.

The same size, a different department (L: Uniqlo, R: H&M) ©

You could argue that this difference in size is due to the biological difference between boys and girls, but the differences in body shape are at such a young age is not gendergebonden. Some children are taller or heavier for their age (or “the curve”), but that in the first ten years of life not much with their gender. If that is the case, then would the size charts here also to be adjusted. When you maatinformatie about children’s clothing, manny is divided into age and legte, but not in sex – and if that is the case, boys and girls up to ten years to correspond in terms of dimensions. Also here you would be able to say “you just a size larger or smaller”, but if you young girls systematically in clothing sticks out that according to her height and age should fit, but it tight, then you create a wrong body image.

Recent research has also shown that children already from the age of five about body image thinking. The report from Common Sense Media noted that more than half of the girls between six and eight years and a third of boys of the same age find that they are too thick. At the age of seven is one in four children engaged with food and weight are related to each other. That are serious results where the garment industry is certainly a role.


The difference in size between girls and jongenskleding is also due in the difference in fit. In a society where “mini-me’s” are no longer simply destined for evil developed in comic action films, but parents for their children increasingly dress like they are an extension of themselves, it is logical that kinderkledingfabrikanten the patterns of “adult” garments translate to smaller sizes. That means a tighter t-shirts (often with V-neck and taken waist) for girls, and slightly more looser shirts with a lot of freedom of movement for boys, ideal to climb trees and romp. A few days ago, went to a Twitterthread of a young mother with hiv who had noted how the school uniforms of her two children (a boy and a girl) from each other differed.

© iStock

That Hema is now following in the footsteps of, among others, the American retailer Target and the Uk’s big department store John Lewis by the kinderkledingafdeling unisex to create, therefore, has a much greater impact on children than we think. It goes further than your son with a bloemenshirt to the crêche is sent, or your daughter that without strange looks just leggings with supermanlogo going up and down. It is about creating self-esteem, body image, and an environment in which children are not already on very young age to be faced with how they should dress, what their body should have and what are the limits of the society on the basis of their gender.

Also read: A story of expectations: boys will be boys, or genderneutraal education?

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