I need to rant for a minute or three. There’s a lot going on in our country right now, and while this seems rather piddly it is not wholly inapplicable.
A few weeks ago, I went clothes shopping at a Big Box retailer (which shall remain nameless) with my eleven-year-old daughter. During our excursion, she went on a total rant about girls v. boys clothes. As she railed on about it, I took detailed notes of her grievances. She began organizing her thoughts, too, calling her preteen tirade “A Complaint to the Country” (her words).
I would like to share her series of complaints with you.
My daughter isn’t the quintessential Girly Girl. Sure, she went through a floofy princess phase as a tiny tot, but she outgrew that quickly as she came into her own interests and began to shun those forced upon her by societal expectation.
“Why is it all unicorns and mermaids and hearts and fairies and sparkles? I’m not even that big on unicorns. Oh look! More unicorns! Everything is all pinks and purples and [other pastel] colors. There’s nothing in black or dark or [bold colors].”
My daughter is a big gamer and an aspiring DJ. And don’t call her a “gamer girl”…it’s just gamer. But despite the growing popularity of both interests among her peer group, they were poorly represented in the girls’ section. In fact, they weren’t represented at all.
“Why is there no gamer stuff for girls? Why no music or DJ stuff? There’s nothing. Why are there no dragons, zombies, skeletons, cammo, cargos, Roblox, or Minecraft clothes for girls? Girls like this sort of stuff too!”
Everything she had rattled off she had found in the boy’s section. And to clarify, she is not looking for this representation all dazzled up with pastels and sparkles. She simply wants proper representation of these common interests in her size, in her proportions, in her section. To that…
My daughter is built a lot like me: small frame, slender, with long legs. Further, she’s very petite for her age and always has been. She’s a pixie. But even as a mere preteen, she is already struggling with clothes that don’t accommodate her body shape. Further, she is rather modest, and a surprising amount of the clothing offered made her uncomfortable.
“Why no stuff that fits girls like us, Mom? Not all girls are curvy. Why is the waist so big, and the [whispers] butt? Why do boys’ pants fit so much better? Why are girls’ shorts so short? Boys’ shorts go all the way to the knee. Why do boys get the cool shirts and cool hats and real pockets? I can’t even fit my hand into a girl’s pocket. My hand! And I have small hands!”
We also shopped for new swimwear. This is where she got very upset. She was absolutely incensed that girls don’t have swim trunks with coordinate tops. Sure, girls have “swim shorts,” but have you really looked at those things? The crotch of girls’ swim shorts is actually more narrow than a standard bikini bottom. Do not sit cross-legged in those things.
“And swim shorts! Why don’t girls get swim trunks, too?! Look, the boys have swim trunks and full shirts with sleeves! I don’t like bikinis, that’s way too grown-up. I’m only eleven!”
Keep in mind, my 11yo is the size of girls 2-3 years her junior. Now, I am no prude, but the immodesty of what is being sold to our children is startling.
We settled on three bathing suits: a solid one-piece with broad straps, a full-coverage one-piece with long sleeves, and a tankini with girl shorts. We considered exploring the boy’s trunks and attempting to coordinate on our own, but time had grown short at this point and she just needed swimwear. However, we will be revisiting this in the future.
Finally, my eleven-year-old asked a really, really great question, one that sank into my soul. It was a question that I think more and more people are asking these days. And I do say “people” and not simply “girls/women” because this question encompasses so much more! She asked:
YES. She is eleven.
YES. She asked this deep, rhetorical question, unprompted, of her own accord.
DEAR RETAILERS: ARE YOU LISTENING?
DEAR AMERICA: ARE. YOU. LISTENING.
Most of the clothing we bought that day was from the boys’ department. She got four or five pairs of pants (all boys), at least half a dozen tee-shirts (all boys), a hat (again, boys), three undershirts (girls), and three bathing suits (girls). And ya know what? My kiddo has gotten more compliments on her style than she ever has before. Telling.
So, screw all those perceived gender roles. We don’t need no stinkin’ unicorns. This kid is FIRE.
Thanks for reading.
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I cant believe I have just read two blogs this morning on the exact same topic with opposite points of view. I just read one from a large-sized gay male perspective. You should check it out. It’s Michael Stoneburner’s blog. Anyhow, I can relate to your daughter because I taught many girls like this who were into gaming and hated all the girly-girl clothes. Well done to speak out.
Thanks for clueing me in on the Michael Stoneburner article! I read their piece to my daughter and we discussed their struggle and how it related to hers. Similar gripes, only from opposite ends of the clothing spectrum.
I’ll take all the mermaids and unicorns! I went into a make-up store with trans man (wearing no make up) and I had my eye shadow and nail polish. I tried asking the sales team there for help but was ignored or the answers were directed to the trans man who the sales team not only misgendered them but triggered their body dysmorphia by obviously seeing them as a she. Retailers need to keep up with the changes society brings!
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Ooooo how frustrating, all the way around!! I wish we could take each other shopping 😭