Well guys, I finally broke down and did it. I shopped in the men’s section of a big box store. I’ve been buying men’s shirts from Threadless for a while because they have the right collar: a slight V, but not enough for boobs to fall out. I hadn’t taken the plunge to actually shopping in person yet until now.
As I meandered the men’s section looking for shorts, I was more than slightly annoyed. I had just spent the better part of an hour in the women’s section searching for a unicorn: shorts that fit me, that didn’t sit at crotch level or knee level, with pockets and enough roominess to sit down without splitting seams. I didn’t find it in the women’s section, but I did in the men’s.
I felt stupid, but then I felt angry. Why should it be so dang hard to find usable, sturdy, decent fitting clothes for women? It’s hard – it’s almost impossible in most big chain stores. And it’s for the same reason that I grump about shopping for clothes for my daughter: sexism.
Women are supposed to be “attractive,” “cute,” “pretty” – in a nutshell, decorative. Little girls face the same clothing choices. My 4-year-old daughter has more than one pair of jeans that she can’t get off her feet on her own because they’re so skinny at the bottom. Her butt is constantly exposed because they’re “low-rise” instead of practical. Like me, she’ll be wearing boys jeans from now on because it’s impossible to find clothes that actually fit her.
I should point out that I have absolutely no problem with dressing up and feeling feminine and flirty. I have a problem with that being all I can find (or the granny alternative. Sheesh.) My daughter loves to dress up too, and thinks dresses are heavenly. She prefers jeans for playing because “they keep my knees safe.”
While I’m on my soapbox, we need to talk, Lego. This Friends line of Lego sets is going to make me blow my stack. My daughter loves the little girls because they’re cute and pretty, but could you PLEASE come out with a Friends scientist set or something – ANYTHING – besides the pony, puppy, or music sets in the ever-present pink and purples?
Way to go Lego – all this robot STEM stuff marketed towards boys, and then you steer girls towards frilly and girly. I want to barf just looking at it. And because it has all the cute things like little dog and pony minifigures, it’s all my daughter wants to buy. My heart is filled with much hate and anger towards you, Lego, and my daughter is sad because I refuse to buy all the dreck for her.
In fact, here’s a memo that all retailers should take note of: products for girls do not have to be pink and sparkly. Really. I mean it. My daughter loves glitter and sequins just as much as she loves cars and dinosaurs. It shouldn’t be either/or, but “and.” And while we’re at it, stop putting so many damn flowers on all the women’s clothes!
Let our girls be princesses and scientists and firefighters and whatever the heck they want. Why do we have to shut them into a “girly” box at such a young age? Why can’t they just be kids? My sons love playing with dolls just as much as my daughter, and she loves robots and cars as much as they do. Sure, she loves glitter and purple, but so do my sons.
I’m ashamed that my kids have already internalized this despite my best efforts. Every day my kids get to choose their water bottle for the day. My daughter will pick the girly bottles given the choice, and my sons refuse to use any bottle remotely associated with pink. “That’s a girl color mom!” I tell them no, it’s just a color. They don’t buy it.
I rarely say I’m glad we’re homeschooling so that I can shelter my kids, but in this case I am. We shelter them from materialism and sexism, from strict gender roles and patriarchy. I’m perfectly happy shutting down the subliminal messaging kids often receive from television ads, but it’s almost impossible to escape in our daily lives. It’s frustrating!
It’s funny – people say we’re making such great strides in equality for women, but the very clothes available for us to buy deny that with every glittery, flowery, sexily cut outfit. The fashion industry has some major catching up to do.
And Lego, I’m serious. You’re ticking me off. I expected better from you!