Saturday, August 09, 2014

What Happened To Unisex Overalls?

The Baby Balabusta has spent pretty much her entire eighteen months being misgendered more or less constantly. Today, at Target, the lady ran a couple of little dresses over the scanner, and asked me, "Oh, do you have a little girl as well?"

"She's the little girl," I explained, indicating BB, who was sitting in the cart. The woman looked extremely startled. "Oh. Oh, she's a girl!" She hastened to explain to me that one of her daughters is fond of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

BB has finally got enough hair that she looks as though she has a cute little pixie cut. (We have not cut it--I'm planning to wait until she's three, and give her a nice upshirin, to make up for the fact that we totally dropped the ball on naming ceremonies.) Today she was wearing small capri stretch jeans, a long-sleeved Batman shirt, and the Thomas the Tank Engine sneakers she got as hand-me-downs from a friend's son.

She's tall for her age, and sturdy, but I don't think that would be enough to identify her as male so consistently. The hair is a lot of what says 'boy' to people, the clothes are a lot of it. Her hand-me-downs at her present size are mostly from boys. Additionally, both I and the Balebos have tended to buy boy's clothes for her. There are reasons for this. The Balebos tends to get her clothes he would wear himself, from nice polo shirts in sober colors to Star Wars tees, and I'm afraid she might be allergic to pink glitter.

We were both startled by the extreme gendering of small children's clothes, which has, frankly, gotten the hell out of hand. I was a small girl in the 1970s, which, I realize retroactively, was some kind of golden age of unisex children's clothing. There does not appear to be any such thing as unisex children's clothing anymore.

Boy's clothes come in strong primary colors and have machines and macho animals on them, or male superheroes, or sports equipment. Girl's clothes come in a lot of pastels, and have petaled attachments and glittery images of girly animals, and Disney princesses, and a lot of stuff about shopping. Girl's pants tend to be leggings, skintight. When girls have blue jeans, or khakis, they have little touches of pink stitching here and there, just to reassure everyone.

There is sports-team themed clothing available for little girls, but it is not in the team colors, it is pink.

Both the Balebos and I had rather a negative reaction to this. Additionally, the Balebos absolutely rejected the practice of marking a baby with too little hair as a girl by putting small glittery, maribou-dripping or flowered headbands on her.

So she dresses like a teeny tomboy, and I accept that at some point she may decide that this is unacceptable.

We're starting to get the hang of shopping for a baby, and I've found some resources. Land's End has nice clothes for children,albeit mostly for older toddlers, and I was thrilled to find that they have tee-shirts for little girls with a range of graphics and colors, including, to my glee, not only outer-space themed ones, but also one that reads "NASA Crew". Clothes I can stand for my daughter are out there.

She has a few now. Her Tante Niamh bought her a small tie-dyed dress, and I found a gray one today at Target that looked like something a little girl should wear. Her father has picked out some sundresses for her. But in her daily uniform, jeans or shorts and a little tee-shirt, I continue to hear her referred to as a boy pretty much every day.