Gender-neutral baby clothes are back, and it caught no one by surprise! The world is spinning in circles, and so is fashion. Only the velocity of spinning keeps increasing. Every new generation brings something old, something new, but mostly borrowed stuff. And although you may think that Millennials are still just teenagers, most of today’s parents belong to this generation. Of course, if you would ask Millennials, they would tell you that they are reinventing the world along with fashion. But that is only partially true. So why are gender-neutral baby clothes so popular today? And is that, in fact, something new?
Ask your grandma about gender-neutral baby clothes. Or, even better, ask your great-grandmother ( if you are lucky still having her) whether she dressed her daughter in pink? Most probably, both of them would get confused. They would tell you something on the line with- baby clothes are baby clothes. Or, which color is pink again?
So you see, we did not come up with the unisex clothes. We are trying to go back to it. And though we are perpetually coming up with new fashion tips, classical clothing never goes out of style.
Let’s go back to the time of religious sternness and imposed chastity expectations. Implying back then that children should wear clothes according to their gender would be perceived preposterous, outrageous even. Children were recognized for what they were, innocent, sexless little beings. If you’d go through the art of that period, you would find paintings portraying kids wearing white gowns, regardless of their sex.
Even long before that, gender-neutral baby clothes were the norm, simply because the alternatives didn’t exist. The 20th century brought us heterogenous baby clothes. Before that, baby clothes were simple white textiles, easy to maintain. Those could be washed at high temperatures, with an important goal to prevent bacterial infections.
Freud, G. Stanley Hall, and the advance of amniocentesis
What do Freud, G. Stanley Hall, and the advance of amniocentesis have in common? They are among the most important reasons that the early sexual distinction of toddlers became popular, mid the 20th century. Sigmund Freud and G. Stanley argued that sexual identity has to be acquired early on. And that this is crucial for the normal development and functioning of every persona. The advance of amniocentesis brought about the sexual identity expectations being set even before birth. And finally, consumerism, mass production, and sex differences commercialization placed further emphasis on gender distinctive clothes.
The awakening and our contribution
So, it is finally becoming clear that we have been only accumulating the unnecessary piles of gender-emphasizing clothes. People are turning to do it yourself ideas and original content instead of looking-all-alike mass production. We have finally realized that we were being deceived and used. Pink is for girls only because somebody decided so, not because that is some ultimate truth. So, why would you base your gender perceptions, or closet arrangements, on somebody’s poor decision?
On the other hand, this century is all about gaining the ultimate sexual equality. Contemporary mothers are firm in their opinion that their kids deserve to be whatever they wish to be and wear whatever makes them feel comfortable. All this, of course, begins early on. And while the thrill for purple unicorns and blue footballs still exists out there, it is mostly frowned upon nowadays. Graphic T-shirts are expressing completely different statements than before. Modern moms are buying t-shirts with planes for their daughters, not excluding the possibility of them being pilots one day. Likewise, if their little boys are into butterflies or ponies, they are free to express themselves. Any kind of suppression is threatening to become unhealthy. And drawing any kind of gender-appropriate boundaries in clothing starts to seem absurd.
Gender variety acceptance
In India, centuries ago, some tribes believed that more than two genders existed. The number was reaching up to 5 accepted sexes at some places. They claimed that not everybody necessarily needs to feel like just a woman or just a man. Older adults and children used to fall under an altogether different category. In western society, such notions are only becoming accepted now. People are finally free to express whatever personality and sexual preferences. Along with this, insisting on sexual clothes segregation is becoming obsolete, same as insisting on the existence of two primary sexes.
The practical side of everything
Besides the moral implication, this story has a practical side to it too. Parents finally realize that picking gender-specific clothes takes too much effort and time. At the same time, they have no practical use whatsoever. Besides,
- Hygiene gets the priority– white and other neutral colors are easier to wash and sterilize.
- Pre-birth assessments determining the sex of babies are not 100 percent reliable – if you want to prepare the clothes for your baby in advance, it is safer to get the gender-neutral ones.
- Siblings can share– you can’t plan the sex of your next child. And it is a pity to throw away all those cute tiny pieces worn only once. Onesies are always in style, even better if they are gender-neutral.
- Early-on personality shaping– Teaching kids early-on that dressing is not the only way they can express themselves opens up some space for creativity.
- The freedom of choice– sometimes kids know the best for themselves. And if they are still babies, neutral-gender clothes will prevent any forced inclinations.
With the gender-neutral onesies, you can’t make a mistake
Times are changing. Gender-neutral clothes used to be the norm. Then it became too plain for generation X, seduced with novel psychology theories and technologies. And now it is on the rise again. Gender-neutral baby clothes are getting popular for various reasons. Also, mainstream ideas have always been present with some variations of personal preferences. And the final choice is always on you. The most important thing is to follow your own beliefs and not force anything just because it is popular for the time being.