The recent uproar among parents (and women in general) provoked by a t-shirt that reads I’m Too Pretty to do Homework… perfectly illustrates the ongoing debate over gender identity in this country.
With the advent of prenatal testing, more and more boys and girls come into a ready-made male or female world. Knowing the infant’s sex so early has virtually eliminated the need for unisex nurseries and neutral baby shower gifts. And we all know the old rule of thumb: pink, ruffles, and frills for girls—blue, denim, and footballs for boys.
Last year, the number of tabloid headlines devoted to whether or not Shiloh Jolie-Pitt is being forced to “dress like a boy” was staggering. Even network news programs ran stories questioning Shiloh’s tomboy style. She’s a five-year old! On the flip side, Suri Cruise represents the ultimate girly-girl. While she may be criticized for dressing too much like a mini adult in plastic heels and Prada coats; she has already made it onto several best-dressed lists. The message is clear: we like (even envy) the girly-girl. The tomboy, however, still seems to raise more than a few eyebrows.
We won’t even go into Toddlers & Tiaras.
Read Related: Pretty In Pink? Not For My Daughter
Earlier this year, Smithsonian.com posted When Did Girls Start Wearing Pink? by Jeanne Maglaty—an excellent history lesson. It may come as a relief to some parents to know that assigning such distinct gender roles to young children is a relatively recent development. Kids’ taste frequently has nothing to do with what’s socially acceptable, right? So while girls will be girls and boys will be boys, as most mamis know, there’s a lot of overlap. Luckily plenty of designers believe that kids should just be kids, so you and your little individualist have plenty of style choices that don’t involve shopping in the boys’ department.