Guest Post by Sara Upton
While everyone has their own parenting style, certain styles often get more attention than others. One of the more recent, and sometimes controversial styles, is gender-neutral parenting, which encompasses a wide range of beliefs and behaviors. For many millennial moms and dads, gender-neutral parenting often begins with simply saying no to the traditional idea that “blue is for boys and pink is for girls” and yes to the idea of self-expression.
Here are just a few of the reasons why an increasing number of parents are going the gender-neutral route when it comes to what their kids wear.
It Allows Kids to Fully (and Freely) Express Themselves
We all have that one outfit that simply makes us feel good. Maybe when you put it on you instantly transform into the fierce, ready-to-take-on-the-world version of yourself. Maybe it never fails to put a smile on your face. Maybe it’s the most comfortable thing you own. Whatever the case may be, you pull that ensemble out whenever you need to—and why shouldn’t your kids be able to do the same when they get dressed? If your daughter loves Star Wars, she should be able to rock a tee featuring Han Solo without feeling like she’s wearing “boy clothes.” If your son’s favorite color is pink, he shouldn’t be told it’s “too girly” for him to wear. Rather than forcing children to choose from the girls’ or boys’ section at a store, unisex clothing is designed to be worn by boys and girls alike and allows them to be as creative as they like when putting outfits together.
It Creates More Possibilities for Dress-Up
Children love having the opportunity to imagine that they’re someone (or something) else for a few hours. Whether that happens to be, a princess, a firefighter, or a dinosaur shouldn’t rely solely on gender. Because kids get a lot of ideas about what they can do from play experiences, what they like, and what they aspire to be, it’s important that all options are kept open. By making clothing (particularly dress-up clothes) gender-specific, it eliminates an entire range of possibilities.
Efforts at gender-neutral play aren’t about pushing children away from costumes traditionally associated with their gender, but instead making them feel as though they can imagine themselves as anything.
It Actively Fights Gender Stereotypes
Despite the modern age we live in, gender stereotypes are still very present in our culture. As kids, boys and girls are more similar than they are different, though the majority of children’s clothing says otherwise. When retailers only market space-themed clothes to boys, what message does that send to little girls who dream of becoming an astronaut one day? What message is being sent to little boys with t-shirt slogans such as “trouble maker” or “too cool for school”? When gender stereotypes like these are used on clothing, it tells kids what is expected of them as a boy or a girl; an influence that extends well beyond just choosing what to wear.
Rather than being limited by gender-binary clothing options, children should decide their own interests, their own favorite colors and styles, and wear the clothing they find most comfortable and enjoyable.
This guest post was contributed by Sara Upton. Sara is a freelance writer who loves all things related to fitness, technology, and fashion and is a mother of two.