Sexism and Shopping

Steven Harper PiziksI found this display at Meijer:





The left is for girls, the right for boys.

First, notice the color scheme.  Pinks is absolutely required for girls, Only one outfit has no pink on it.  For boys, it’s blue.  Every single outfit has blue on it somewhere.  For boys, we also have dinosaurs, tools, a puppy, and a fire engine.  Active, power imagines.  To top it off, one of the shirts says, “Mommy’s rescue hero,” casting an TODDLER in the role of rescuer for his mother.  (And why isn’t that on the girls’ side, pray?)

Meanwhile, the girls have butterflies, pandas, kittens, and flowers, all images of passivity and prettiness.  No action there.

If a boy wants to be quiet and passive or enjoy pretty things, he’s out of luck.  If a girl wants to be loud and active or enjoy monsters and fire trucks, she’s dead in the water.  So says the fashion industry and Meijer.

–Steven Harper Piziks

DANNY on sale now at Book View Cafe.

Danny Large



Sexism and Shopping — 7 Comments

  1. My daughters had dinosaur shirts, puppy shirts, and (mostly) shirts with no particular images on them. And I worked hard to make sure that they were all sorts of colors that weren’t pink.

    And let me tell you, it was a lot of damned work. I wonder, sometimes, if the parents of the kids I see wearing “Daddy’s Princess” and “Mommy’s Rescue Hero” t-shirts just ran out of energy to fight it.*

    *also: why do we insist on putting bumper stickers on our kids?

  2. Grrrr at all of this. Grrrr.

    My son liked pink. He didn’t like princesses or flowered hearts.

    My mother finally had a local print shop put a semi truck on a plain pink t-shirt and gave it to him.

    I wanted to keep it after he outgrew it, but I also wanted another kid to have it. I do wonder if they put it in the boy or girl section of the resale shop! Either way I feel I did some small thing to thumb my nose at the stupidity.

    (I work a rummage sale that splits boy and girl clothes. Drives me nuts. Where do you put the plain orange shirt? Answer–boy, because it’s not pink. GAH!)

  3. We were traveling years ago, with our then four year old girl in tow. Were in Boston at that famous market/mall (Fanueil?) and washed up against displays of toys. Puppets, cars, pink stuff and dollws, model toy planes of the rev them on wheels a few times and they’ll go a bit on their own type, ya know …. Our girl went straight for the model of the stealth bomber, ignored everything else. We still have it.

    • This is what I do when my friends ask me to take their kids shopping unless the children demand something in particular (one friend one time needed a pink dress to show off her light sabre properly, for instance – it wasn’t just pink she needed, it was frills for she wanted to create an effect). I either find a shop that doesn’t divide or I take them to the boys’ side.

  4. Fortunately I grew up on a farm. I wore jeans or bib overalls and rubber boots. I had to wear dresses and skirts to school because it was the early sixties and seventies, but the jeans went back on as soon as I got home. I still live in jeans and boots (I drive a Zamboni in an ice rink.) I learned to drive on a tractor. My second cousin/best friend learned to drive in a dump truck and wears jeans and coveralls most of the time. She has a sheep farm and is also a beekeeper. My sister is a retired dairy farmer, as are my parents. I have only ever owned one pink article of clothing and it was a Christmas gift from a co-worker. I want that dinosaur Tshirt in the photo right now in my adult size. Don’t ever let anyone pigeonhole you fashion-wise and don’t ever grow old.

  5. I was also in Macy’s this week, and their “Young Girls” department was a solid wall of pink. Every single item was pink or had pink designs on it. Good help you if you were girl who didn’t like pink!

    In the “boys clothes are better made” arena, in Lord & Taylor, I passed by a rack of women’s clothes. One blouse was a wispy white thing with a scattering of black dots on it. The material was see-through flimsy, and it was TINY, built for a woman who couldn’t weigh more than 100 pounds, but it was listed as a size 10. And it cost $30! There couldn’t have been more than four feet of two-penny cloth in that thing. I said to Darwin, “No wonder women flip between suicidal and homicidal when they go shopping.”

    I’ve heard from or about several parents who shop for their girls in the boys department to solve the problem, and it’s a good idea. If fewer and fewer people buy the flimsy pink crap, the designers will change what they’re doing.