A Gripe on Baby Clothes

My husband and I are expecting our first child this July. As a soon-to-be-parent, I don’t mind admitting to feeling overwhelmed and terrified at how quickly our lives are about to change. But I must confess, I find a particular (albeit materialistic) kind of solace in looking at clothes online.

I start by scrolling through the maternity sections of my favorite stores. I’m so thankful to be pregnant at a time when maternity style doesn’t include borrowing oversized tshirts from my husband’s closet. I flip through the flowy dresses, the form-fitting tanks and rub my belly; glad that despite being heavier than I’ve ever been in my life, I also feel more confident (we won’t talk about how I’m going to feel after JJ is born; when you may find me and my deflated tummy living in my husband’s Spiderman tshirt).

Once I have scanned all the beautiful prints I can handle, I subdue the urge to buy more clothes for myself by switching my attention to Miss J. So far, I’ve only purchased lightly-used clothes from Once Upon a Child, but I can’t help admiring all the things I could buy her if I ever felt like paying full-price for a piece of fabric my daughter will only wear once.

The browsing starts easily enough. I click on the outfits I think are cute and pass over those that are too pink, too frilly or just too expensive. I’ve long given up on trying to make her a mini-me; apparently deep, rich, earthtones aren’t made for little ones. Rather, the wardrobe of a modern child is apparently full of pastels and bright colored outfits, intermingled with lots of animals and cupcake prints. But I get it. They’re kids. They can pull off the pastels, bright colors and prints that would give their doctors and dentists nightmares — all the while looking damn cute! ‘Nuff said.

One of the great things about online shopping is having the option to click on a product and see it in several different colors or styles. I love this feature when it comes to picking out a new mirror or rug for the entryway. I do not, however, love this feature when it comes to children’s clothes.

Today, for instance, I clicked on an inexpensive but colorful set of onesies that had the “More Colors” box next to the description. After clicking on the link, I hovered over the picture so I could read what the onesies actually said.

The blue onesies said “Workin’ Hard” and was embellished with had pictures of pickup trucks and handsaws.

The pink onesies said “Tea for Two” and were embellished with teapots and hearts.

Am I the only one that sees something wrong with this?

Putting aside the obvious blue is for boys/pink is for girls cliche that we’ve been trying to avoid, these onesies took the boy/girl dichotomy one step further. And sadly, it’s a step that I’ve seen taken more than once.

The boys’ onesies suggests an action; a child who is doing something — working hard. Perhaps toward a career in engineering?

The girls’ onesies suggest… teatime? For two? With hearts? There is no action; only a reference to a particular time of day where people rest. The “for two” suggests a lack of independence. After all, what fun is there in tea for one?

C’mon people. Seriously? Have we learned nothing from Goldie Blox.? Have we learned nothing from hard-working women around the world who don’t have tea for two, and instead are paving the way for future women, forging their way through the workplace?

… and then I quit looking at baby clothes.

I don’t necessarily believe that one “Tea for Two” shirt is going to ruin my child. But it irks me just the same.

I’ve done a lot of reading on how marketers sell their products to children and it is my personal belief that young girls are predisposed to choosing pink or purple as their favorite colors.

Sidenote: I am very anti-Lego since their marketing strategy is precisely the kind of thing I’m talking about.

Fortunately, I have the freedom as a consumer to buy whatever I want for my child.

I’m sure she will wear pink. And I’m sure she will have a cupcake on at least one tshirt in her childhood.

But she will also have the sleepsack that has a rocket ship at the neckline. She will have blue, nautical-themed tshirts that suggest movement and athleticism. She will rock the Marvel onesie her father bought her that proves her acceptance to Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters.

As for my part, I will continue to rock the rich earthtones and preach gender equality for my child.